|Woods west of Santiago de Compostela|
|The Roman theater in Mérida|
Camino de Santiago
|The compostelana or certificate for finishing the pilgrimage|
The hike itself was wonderful; I made walking buddies within minutes of arriving in Sarria, I took full advantage of the six-euro-a-night state-run pilgrim hostels, I got over my fear of public showers, and I got a lovely introduction to the region I’ll be working in next school year. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back and hike the whole thing, but I’m so glad I can say I did it.
Camino to Fisterra
|The fisterrana or certificate for completing the pilgrimage|
This trek was much more of a challenge than the one to Santiago was; far fewer pilgrims were on the trails than on the main route, the weather was god-awful with unending, windy torrents of rain, and the stages were much longer with fewer pitstops. I was super cranky when I arrived in Fisterra—not to mention a little creaky in my legs—but getting the fancy certificate was that little gold star that cheered me up.
LugoFlashback to September 2012: I was on the plane from Philadelphia to Madrid and who else would I sit next to on the overnight plane ride than a fellow language assistant named Annie! We became friends (which was a good decision, since we had to share nine cramped hours next to each other), but after convalescing in a café in the Barajas airport, we went our separate ways for the school year; she up north to Lugo in Galicia and me down south to Andalucía.
But! Annie was kind enough to let me leave my luggage at her apartment while I went off Camino-ing for eight days and then let me crash at her place for a few nights in Lugo, the capital of the northeastern province of Galicia and famous for its mostly-intact Roman walls. I happened to be in town during the annual Arde Lucus festival (“Roman Lugo Burns!!!”), which was a weekend-long celebration and reenactment of the city’s Roman and Celtic heritage. I really enjoyed getting to meet up with this cool friend I met by chance on the plane and exploring her adopted hometown.
|Whimsical trees in the Parque del Buen Retiro|
So in my last four days in Spain I went out with a bang running across Madrid, hitting up all three of the city’s famous art museums, and winning at a bilingual trivia night with my friend Alissa. A second visit to Madrid is definitely in order when I come back in the fall; hopefully the National Archaeological Museum will be open by then!
Finally, on June 21 I caught two flights back to the Great State of Texas where I currently am residing. It’s really good to be back but I am looking forward to returning to Spain in the fall and doing it all over again.