- Where the Locals Go
Trevor’s Santiago de Compostela
In 2013, Trevor Huxham left Texas for Santiago de Compostela and never looked back. Now an English teacher at a bilingual school, Trevor spends his extracurricular time cataloguing the many pleasures of Santiago de Compostela on his blog, A Texan in Spain. “Not only is Santiago the endpoint of the historic and modern Camino phenomenon, but it is also a lively university town with great seafood and beautiful granite architecture,” he writes.
Here are some of Trevor’s favorite things about the World Heritage-listed city he calls home.
Follow Trevor on Instagram and Twitter.
Santiago de Compostela is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is the Mercado de Abastos, the local food market where you can buy freshly caught seafood, locally grown produce, and regional specialties like creamy cheeses, homemade liqueurs, and tarta de Santiago (almond cake).
Spring is the best time to visit my city because the rough winter rains have passed, flowers are blooming everywhere, and the high tide of summer pilgrims hasn’t yet arrived.
You can see my city best from Monte Pedroso, an easy hour-long hike from the cathedral square.
Locals know to skip the touristy restaurants along Rúa do Franco (south of the cathedral) and check out the fancy eateries and dependable tapas bars on Rúa de San Pedro (northeast of the old town) instead.
Any shop near Praza das Praterías specializing in silver or jet (a black gemstone) jewelry is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.
In the past, notable people like poet Rosalía de Castro, dramatist Ramón del Valle-Inclán, and current Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy have called my city home.
My city’s best museum is the Museum of the Galician People because it showcases traditional Galician culture and has a dizzying, Baroque-era triple spiral staircase.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that the cathedral was built at the highest point between two rivers on a bluff so that the rest of the city trickles down alongside the hillsides. Your calves will get a good workout here!
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Belvís Park, which occupies a long, west-facing hillside and is the perfect place to have a picnic.
My city really knows how to celebrate Ascension Day, a week-long spring festival 40 days after Easter when concerts, parades, and fairground attractions take over the city.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they always carry an umbrella with them—even if the sun is shining.
For a fancy night out, I would go to La Industrial for trendy food and quality mixed drinks.
Just outside my city, you can visit Fisterra, Spain’s “Land’s End” on the Atlantic Ocean and a chill fishing village.
My city is known for being the end of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) pilgrimage route, but it’s really the administrative capital for the region of Galicia and a big university town.
The best outdoor market in my city is the “hippie” street market on Rúa Nova, where you can buy leather goods and scarves.
Café Tertulia, where you can order rustic toast and loose-leaf tea, is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Teresa the Bocadillo Lady is the spot for late-night eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Ocio en Santiago or Compostela Capital Cultural.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to a bakery and ask for a thin square of empanada de bacalao con pasas (meat pie filled with cod, raisins, and onions).
To escape the crowds, I head inland to the Roman-walled city of Lugo or to the thermal baths of Ourense along the Miño River.
The dish that represents my city best is pulpo á feira (boiled octopus) and licor café (a grape-skin liqueur flavored with coffee and sugar) is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Bodegón Os Concheiros Pulpería and Casa das Crechas, respectively.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
O Vaga, with performances of traditional Galician bagpipes every Thursday night, is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Século IX.
A Thanksgiving dinner of Erasmus students, local Spaniards, and American expats switching between English, Spanish, and Galician could only happen in my city.
In the spring you should breathe deeply among the blooming camellias and magnolias in the Alameda Park.
In the summer you should celebrate Midsummer Eve by hopping over the flames of bonfires lit to honor Saint John.
In the fall you should get some roasted chestnuts from street-sellers in the old town.
In the winter you should take refuge from the rain and cold by warming up with a bowl of callos con garbanzos, tripe and chickpea stew flavored with chorizo and cumin.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss riding the tourist train around town.
The best book about my city is Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons on the Camino by Joyce Rupp because she shares many practical lessons that she learned from her pilgrimage to Santiago.