I had given myself a few days in Santiago after finishing the Camino to recoup, repack, and plan the following few weeks of travel. While I had been walking, it had been difficult to think about anything further into the future than reaching Santiago, so I whipped up a tentative itinerary, booked my major transportation, and emailed the friends that I would be visiting in Germany. I went to the post office to send home as much as I possibly could without completely breaking the bank (goodbye, compostela,, trekking poles, guide book, and hiking socks!) FYI, the people who work at the Santiago post office – and actually, at all of the post offices that I had used in Spain- are incredibly helpful. A big thumbs up and thank you to them for helping me lighten my backpack!
“Business” stuff aside, it was nice to be able to spend a few days in one place again. I was staying at the Hotel LaSalle in a 4-person dorm room. I had sworn up and down that once I was off the Camino, I would not stay in dorms for the rest of my travels, but this room was actually very nice. It had a bunk and two single beds along with a large bathroom in a cheerful orange color. Every afternoon when I arrived in my room, I would be the only inhabitant and hoped that it would stay that way. But when I would return every evening after dinner or going out, a new roommate would be asleep in the neighboring single bed. Luckily, all of the roommates I had in Santiago were considerate and very friendly. My first roommate Giordi was a barista from Italy (haha, yeah I know) and accompanied me and Jasmin on the bus to Finisterre. On the night that I returned to Santiago, I met Jin, a woman from South Korea who has been traveling solo in Europe. We shared a long brunch together at a nearby bar before she had to check out.
The last night, Jin’s former spot in the dorm room was occupied by Maria, a student from Italy. She and I joked that you can sometimes tell a person’s country of origin from their shoes. On the Camino, you could always distinguish the pilgrims from the other tourists because the pilgrims would be wearing hiking socks with Teva sandals or Crocs. “In Italy,” Maria said, “when we see people wearing those sandals, we know that they must be German, because no Italian would wear something so ugly.” LOL.
Maria and I enjoyed a good dinner of tapas and beer. I marveled at the differences between tapas offerings throughout the country. Galicia is famous for its seafood, so every restaurant and bar claimed to have the best pulpo, or octopus, in town. I tried a little, but it’s not really my cup of tea.
I walked around town a bit on my own, too. I visited the Franciscan church, which is also distributing special compostelas as this year marks the 800th anniversary of the pilgrimage of St. Francis of Assissi to Santiago.
Of course, I also wanted to buy some souvenirs. I told myself that if I finished the Camino, I would treat myself to a shell necklace and a Camino-designed Buff. (For those of you who are not familiar with Buffs, you can look at two-thirds of the photos of me from the Camino. The green or purple headbands that I am wearing are not actually bandanas but Buffs. They are lightweight, can be worn in a dozen different ways, and are on my list of Indispensable Travel Gear. I don’t leave home without one!) Like any other touristed city, Santiago has a myriad of shops selling jewelry, rosaries, shell memorabilia, and t-shirts. I do think that the Peppa Pig and Sponge Bob (or in Spanish, “Bob Esponja”) pilgrim shirts take it a bit too far.
Sadly, these were also the last days that I would be seeing many of my friends. Colin, Jürgen from Austria, and I searched for a karaoke bar on Sunday night, only to find it closed.
Jasmin, Colin, and I said some emotional goodbyes the night that Jasmin left, but I wasn’t too sad, since I would be meeting up with Jasmin and Chris once again while visiting Germany.
Finally, we WERE able to find a karaoke bar that was open. And we hit the jackpot: TONS of great songs, both in English and in Spanish (although the DJ was kind of a jerk. No need to be snippy, dude). Any place that has Arctic Monkeys is A-OK in my book. 🙂 The funniest part was the presence of two little girls who couldn’t have been more than six years old. Accompanied by their moms (?) they sang Christina Aguilera with very thick Spanish accents: “Ohhhh-WAH-oooo-ohhhhh! Ay-ee just wanna feel thees moment!” So cute. But it was one o’clock in the morning! I know we were on Spanish time, but do these kids not sleep?
My flight out of Santiago departed just after sunrise on Friday, June 27. After a wonderful month and a half in Spain, I was flying to Rome.