Back to Galicia

I went back to Santiago de Compostela to visit my buddy, Chris, and as usual, I had a wonderful time. There is something so wonderful about that city that I can’t quite describe it. The people I talked to that are studying there say that it’s a boring drag, especially since a few of them said they just went to Madrid a few weeks ago and now they can’t stop thinking about how amazing my city is. I can’t argue with Madrid’s splendor, but I don’t think Santiago deserves all the complaints that it gets. In fact, I love almost everything about it. Maybe it’s because I always have such a good time there, or maybe it’s because the people I get to see there are such great individuals, or maybe I just have a wonderful time with Chris Kelley, or maybe it really is the essence of the city. I wonder what it’d be like after all the people I’ve met there have returned to their home cities in their respective countries and Chris Kelley no longer works there. Will I still think it’s such a wonderful place? Would I myself be able to live there or is it just a perfect place for a weekend getaway? I don’t know if these questions will ever be answered, but I honestly hope that this wasn’t my last trip to Galicia.

I arrived early Friday afternoon after running from work straight to the airport to catch my plane on time. Once I arrived in the vibrant green countryside of Galicia and straight into the ceaseless rain, I caught a bus to the city center and was met by the one and only, Christopher Kelley, full beard, plaid shirt, hipster glasses and all.  As usual, Chris and I started off with laughs and I knew the weekend was going to be good. We ended up running into two of his friends while we were searching for a place to eat because I was absolutely starving (this is nothing new, I’m always hungry), and we grabbed a beer with them while chatting outside since it was, for the moment, not raining. Later, we grabbed kebabs. Typical.

Then we went and saw Ivan Ferreiro perform, who is one of our favorite Spanish songwriters.  I had bought our tickets beforehand at the local FNAC, which only took me about 3 weeks to realize that they sold concert tickets there. At first, I tried to buy my ticket online and the site wouldn’t allow me to purchase a ticket. Chris had the same problem. I asked my friend Cristina to try, but she had the same issue. The day before I left to Santiago, still without concert tickets, it occurred to her that we could our tickets at the FNAC so I ran there and fortunately the show still hadn’t sold out. When we got to the venue, the line had already started to build up and the ticket box said, “Agotado” or sold out. We stood in line for a short period, drinking a Mahou 1 liter to pass the time. We entered, checked our coats, and since I was there to see Chris and to celebrate his birthday, which would arrive at midnight that night.  We got our Whiskey Cokes and joined in the crowd. The show started and was nothing short of amazing, well, at least the music was. We were unfortunately surrounded by there Jersey Shore type Macho broads that kept shouting and bouncing around and annoyed basically everyone. Now I’ve been to a ton of concerts and have even been involved in mosh pits, but I don’t think any other concert has been more annoying than being pushed around by Ronny D and his gaggle of over-stuffed meat heads.  But overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the concert.

Later, we met up with Chris’s friends whom I had met on my first trip and it was wonderful seeing them.  They even seemed to be excited to see me! We passed the night genially until we all returned home close to 7 in the morning where Chris and I slept on our friend Mathilde’s couches since Chris’s apartment is in another city over and all the trains had stopped running for the night (actually, I’m pretty sure by the time we actually went to bed, we could have could the train to his place, but we were just too tired).

We woke up and head to Villagarcia de Arosa which is the city Chris actually works and lives in, but since Santiago is the capital of Galicia and Villagarcia is a podunk town. His property however is right along the beach so it’s absolutely gorgeous. We spent Saturday just laying low, relaxing and eating. Later, he had some friends over but we had a relatively early night.  However, there were a few things that went wrong: First, we ran out of butane so Chris tried to go to the gas station to get a refill, but they didn’t have any. Then, once he returned home after paying for the cab, that he had lost his wallet.  The following day, we were going to go to A Coruña, which is another city close by that is supposedly one of the most beautiful parts of the country, but since Chris didn’t have a cent to his name and everything in Spain is closed on Sundays, we spent the day wandered around Villagarcia, ate Burger King for breakfast, and basically did nothing.  But it was really nice. I actually really enjoyed the day laying low and just appreciating the beauty of Galicia and having the ocean right there in front of us. Later, we went and watched Barcelona tie Sevilla 1-1 while sipping on my favorite Spanish beer: Estrella Galicia. Then we called it a night.

I woke up the next day alone in Chris’s apartment since he went to work. I caught the train back to Santiago, met up with Amber (English) and Anna (Italian), two of my friends that I had met through Chris. We got breakfast and then they walked to the bus stop to catch the bus to the airport. I flew home sad to leave the rain and rolling green of Santiago. However, I kept thinking about Madrid and how I was actually not excited to be going home. Although Amber and Anna both stressed to me how amazing Madrid is, which I can’t argue with that, but there is some essence in Santiago that really pulls me in and makes it almost heartbreaking to leave. Again, I’m not sure why that is, but I’d really like to stay there, it’s just a great place.

So I’m back in Madrid, back to the daily grind, back to the norm.

Last night, we had Jorge’s despedida (or good-bye) dinner. Afterward, we went to some Asturian bar and drank Sidra (cider). This was a blast because they place a bucket on the floor and they hand you a bottle of the Sidra and a glass. You have to tip the glass sideways and pour the bottle from a few feet up in the air (I didn’t take this picture, but here is basically what the process looks like: click here). I guess you can’t drink it without mixing it up a bit and that is clearly the way to do. The sidra splashes all over and you have to drink it really fast before it settles. Regardless, after only-god-knows how many bottles, we returned home.

It’s really sad to see Jorge officially gone. But he’ll be back :) We wish him the best on his future endeavors.

As for today, upon arrival to my job, Toñi, who is the wonderful woman that always buys me all this traditional Spanish food and basically spoils the crap out of me, was not there because her mother is sitting on her death bed. It’s all really tragic and sad, and I send my best wishes to her and her family.

Tonight, Kevin came over, who is a friend from home who’s studying abroad here (not sure I’ve mentioned him in my blog yet or not), and we purchased our bus tickets to go to las Fallas this weekend in Valencia. This is who is going: Jose Luis (friend), David (friend from Getafe), Carlo (new roommate), Kevin, a friend of Kevin’s, and apparently all of Carlo’s buddies from the university. It’s going to be a riot! We leave Saturday at 9am and we return Sunday at 7am. It’s a whole day of festivities, but supposedly, Las Fallas is something you cannot miss! SO EXCITED!

Also, I bought a plane ticket to go to Oporto, Portugal in May when Kara comes. Kara, Kevin, and I are going there for a quick weekend to take a vineyard tour, see a library that was used in the Harry Potter films and get to know a part of northern Portugal. I went to Lisbon two and a half years ago and absolutely fell in love so I’m so excited to get to see another part of the country.

Anyway, I believe that’s all to update you all on!

Write more later,


2 thoughts on “Back to Galicia

  1. You have to go back to go to Coruña! It really is one of the most beautiful parts of Spain I’ve seen, and I am hardcore Andalucía!

    If you get there, look for La Bombilla off the main shopping streets. 1€ tapas and buen ambiente!


  2. Hello Graham,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog, it’s my first time on your pages. I originally stumbled across it while researching Santiago de Compostela. I’m moving there in October to work in the same program you just finished. I read on your current posts that you’re returning- wonderful!

    Odd, but gave me peace of mind that you enjoy Galicia so much! I’ll trust your judgment as I’ve never been there and of course, am trying to soak up everything I can about my future home. Any tips or feedback you’d care to share is helpful, but not necessary if you’re just too busy right now transitioning back to Denver. No worries! Thanks for keeping your blog so up to date, I’ve learned a lot through your adventures.

    Best wishes, Audrey


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