Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Photo Post: Santiago de Compostela’s Belvís Park

Parque de Belvís, Santiago de Compostela
Belvís to the south
A few months ago I talked about Santiago de Compostela’s Alameda Park on the blog: the city’s historic public park with great views of the old town and many beautiful old trees. It’s a great place to go for an afternoon stroll in, and the trails that run around the wooded hill are perfect for jogging. But it’s always busy with people at all hours of the day—be it tourists getting their pictures of the cathedral from the lookout point, a wall of grandmas stretching from one end of the path to the other, or packs of joggers careening around the corners. So it’s not surprising that the introvert in me and my inner hipster prefer Santiago’s Belvís Park, just to the east of the old town.

Parque de Belvís, Santiago de Compostela
Belvís to the north
Pronounced “bel-VEES” [belˈβis] with the accent on the second syllable, I was told by a tour guide that the name derives from the Galician phrase bela vista or “pretty view,” which makes sense because from the highest point in the park you can get a lovely overview of the eastern side of Santiago’s old town as well as the new town as it trickles down toward the train station. The park itself occupies a lush, green valley which a gentle creek flows through. The eastern half of Belvís is one long grassy hillside: a perfect place to go for a picnic on a sunny day or lay out and soak up some sun. On the other side of the river there’s a small dog park that’s almost always in use and which is a great source of entertainment when you’re lying on the hillside hanging out with friends.

Parque de Belvís, Santiago de Compostela
Belvís Convent, seen from the Mercado de Abastos
At the top of the hill, the Convento de Belvís is home to a community of cloistered Dominican nuns who engage in a playful rivalry with their Benedictine sisters in the Antealtares convent in the old town by baking sweets like tarta de Santiago (almond cake), pastas de té (shortbread cookies), and almendrados (chewy almond cookies). To be honest I still haven’t gone up to the convent’s revolving door yet but it’s on my bucket list for this school year! Every quarter of an hour the church’s bells ring soft chimes that toll across the park, and if I have my bedroom window open I can sometimes here little “ding-ding-dings” marking out the nun’s activities.

Parque de Belvís, Santiago de Compostela
From the terrace of Restaurante Da-Ca
Right around the corner from where I live there’s an unassuming, typical Spanish restaurant called “Da-Ca” that has a really nice terrace view of the park (and cheap, tasty eats, too!). If it’s not obvious yet, Belvís is basically my apartment’s backyard, so it’s nice to have a little café-bar-restaurant nearby for when cravings strike or for when you want to chill out with an afternoon coffee in one of Santiago’s finest green spaces. Da-Ca serves a variety of sandwiches, bocadillos, burgers, and platos combinados or little-bit-of-everything dishes; my friends love their runny-yolk fried-egg burger but I like their classic burger that doesn’t leave me with sticky fingers. The free tapas that come with your drink aren’t half bad, either!

Parque de Belvís, Santiago de Compostela
Tapa of callos con garbanzos at Restaurante Da-Ca
What was your favorite photo from this post? What other cities do you know of that have lots of green space? Tell me below in the discussion thread!

For more pictures, check out my album on Flickr.
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