Santiago de Compostela, a beautiful city

A couple of years ago, thanks to the prince William’s wedding, we were lucky enough to have a long break in the UK and whilst everyone around me booked holidays, I was not as sure as what to make of such an opportunity.

With the Vermilion project on site, we had been very busy and bearing in mind that I was running the team and my husband was working in the olympic village, We had not been able to take any other holiday than visiting our families. So when my brother in law suggested to go to Compostela, we said yes.

As a non religious person, the Santiago way is something that has fascinated me for a long time. People say that the silence and the walk, give you a chance to be with yourself and review where you are heading towards with your life. This, at the time, sounded brilliant!

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However, as my Japanese family loves shopping we decided to do the journey backwards to allow them to go shopping either in San Sebastian or in the French Basque Country where the food and linen would surely have an appeal… I was the designated driver, but even so, we had a great time.

Here are my tips from the Santiago de Compostela part of the journey:

Hotel: We stayed at a refurbished old convent right behind the cathedral… you will not believe Your luck on arrival as It is very affordable and gorgeous.

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Hospedería San Martín Pinario, Praza Da Inmaculada, Santiago de Compostela, 15704 Spain

( Ever since I organized our honey moon in Scandinavia, I tend to use two websites I trust to get deals ; http://www.hotelclub.com and http://www.hotels.com )

Visit:

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The Cathedral , overlooking the Obradoiro Square is famous world wide. Its golden interior in a very Spanish baroque style, its botafumeiro and portico are featured endlessly in architectural or traveling programs; but I have to admit that nothing prepares you for the experience that is walking on the roof of the cathedral with the city at your feet. It was actually my friend Raffaele gave me this tip before I went. You can climb to the roof or cubiertas in one of the guided tours. If you do it at sunset, its becomes an incredible experience.

santiago at night

The Gacilian centre of contemporary art by Alvaro Siza was rather new when we visited the town. New and closed so check in advance the opening times.

You can also visit another interesting building. The Musical studies centre by Anton Garcia . A building which , quite literaly, seems to have emerged from a rock.

Eat:

Local dishes you should try are :Vieiras (scallops), lacon (salty boiled ham) , empanada gallega (a traditional pastry) and pulpo a la gallega (Galician style octopus)

Drink

Local wines: Albariño , Ribeiro (if you find albarino “sin palabras” taste it! They served it it at the vinoteca Obradoiro de Xantar )

Local beer: Estrella (de Galicia) of course!

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Restaurants:

Obradoiro de Xantar (same as above) It is a low key vinoteca with delicious food. It is set in a quaint market street and has lovely very knowledgeable service. We had octopus and lacon with a couple of Albariño wines from nearby producers they recommended. The nicest one “Sin Palabras”

O afiador Restaurante was my lovely cousin’s choice for a family dinner. It is a traditional restaurant with a great menu … we had octopus, scallops, empanada and many more dishes. it had a very warm welcoming feeling and was full of locals.

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Photography by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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