A Travel Guide to Galicia: Spain’s Celtic connection

Picture this: Lush green land. Rain. Beautiful coast dropping abruptly as it meets the sea, while waves crash with abandon against steep cliffs. Somewhere far away you hear bagpipes. What comes to the mind? You would be forgiven to think that you are somewhere in the Scottish highlands. But you need to shift your focus about 2,500 kilometres south to Spain’s north-western autonomous community: Galicia. 

Galicia is supposed to be one of the lesser known Celtic nations of the world, the more famous ones being Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and Isle of Man. It is not a high priority for many foreign tourists visiting Spain- certainly not if they are visiting for the first time. Somehow, the absence of bulls, flamenco, searing heat or beach resorts with English speaking staff do not really entice your typical tourist into visiting this area. But if you do decide to venture off the usual tourist path, you will most definitely not be disappointed. 

Bagpipes, known in local language Gallego as ‘gaitas’ are an integral part of Galicia’s folk music. Pictured above is a man dressed in traditional clothing, playing music at Praia das Catedrais.

Itinerary and practical information

I based myself in Ribadeo and Santiago de Compostela, and from there I took day trips to the rest of the places.

In Santiago de Compostela, you can find a number of day tour operators who can take you on a guided tour along Rías Baixas. You can either enquire about them in Santiago’s Tourism Office, or often you can also see them giving out pamphlets in front of the cathedral in Praza do Obradoiro.

Recommended trip length and when to go

Around 1 to 1.5 weeks would be my recommendation, but that is easily modifiable depending on your circumstances.
Summer months (June, July, August) guarantee the sunniest weather and the coast is the best place to be. July and August are also peak months, so expect to splurge.
Spring (April, May) and autumn (September) are shoulder seasons, and you could explore the interior of Galicia, whilst still enjoying a good walk along the coast.
Avoid winter. The weather will be gloomy and so will you.

How to get to Galicia

  • By air: The cities of Santiago de Compostela, Vigo and A Coruña have international airports and serve as excellent bases to start your Galician adventure. They’re not the biggest airports in Spain, so you’ll need to double check if there’s a direct connection from your place of origin or not.
  • By land: Spain has an extensive public transport system, and you can get to Galicia using trains or buses from practically any part of Spain.
    • For trains, I use RENFE, but there’s also the option of FEVE trains that connect the northern coast.
    • For buses, I almost always rely on ALSA, when undertaking an inter-regional journey.
    • Use websites such as OMIO, Rome2Rio and Busbud to look at your options and book.
    • Another option is going to the bus or train station to check out the timetables and buying your ticket there. Depending on the day, you might even be able to reserve a seat for the same day.

How to move around in Galicia

The easiest way to access the best of the coast would be by using a car. Buses form another excellent alternative option. ALSA covers most routes, although there are a number of private bus companies that are especially good at connecting different villages to cities. Using Omio, Rome2Rio or Busbud should provide you with plenty of sufficient options. As mentioned before, an alternative option to buy tickets is to go physically to a bus station.

Where to stay

The top 3 websites that I use to book any accommodation anywhere are: Booking, AirBnB and Hostelworld. Keep in mind that smaller villages will not have AirBnb and hostels available, but you should be able to find hotels at very reasonable prices.

  • For my stay in Santiago de Compostela, I was able to book an AirBnb for 16 Euros per day, very close to the city centre.
  • For my stay in Ribadeo, I booked Hotel Santa Cruz through Booking.com. It’s a no-frills, basic hotel but quite clean and comfortable nevertheless. The breakfast is massive, the owner/ receptionist speaks excellent English and the staff is very helpful and always smiling! What else do you need?

Important links

Navigate the post

Page 2– Travel guide of the Galician coast
Page 3– Travel guide of Santiago de Compostela
Page 4– Travel guide of Galician food

Of laneways and street art: my tribute to Melbourne

It is a city that holds the glory of being the culture and fashion capital of Australia. It is a city has the honour of being the biggest Greek city outside of Greece. It is a city where Australia’s colonial heritage does more than just a tiny ‘peek-a-boo’ from behind lofty skyscrapers, modern architecture and leafy green avenues. It is a city where I witnessed the greatest number of youth sporting bright blue hair. A city that takes something ordinary and attempts to create something unique out of it. The hipster cool of Australia. The scene of Australia’s best coffee. The land of grungy street art. The place that made hanging out in seedy alleyways cool. Honestly, if there is a place to live in Australia and enjoy urban life to its greatest extent, it is Melbourne and there is no ambiguity about it. You love the beach? Brighton beach with its iconic bathing boxes is right there! Or make it a day trip by going down to the Great Ocean Road! You love the river? Yarra and its beautiful riverside with fancy restaurants and oh-so-stunning views are at your doorstep. You love wine? Yarra valley, Australia’s premier wine region is an hour and a half’s drive away from the city. And not just wine, the countryside is replete with beautiful forests, natural parks, mountains and stunning views. This post has been a long time coming. However, I’ve finally managed to be organised enough to present to you my small tribute to the city of Melbourne, hoping that these select photos will inspire you to pack your bags as well. Enjoy!

THE URBAN SNAPSHOTS

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Melbourne’s waterfront offering picturesque views. In photo: Evan Walker Bridge
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The iconic Melbourne yellow. In photo: Scots’ Church, Collins Street. 
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State Library of Victoria
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Shrine of Remembrance
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Contrast. As seen on Flinders Street. 
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#Loveislove

THE FOODGRAM

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Amazingly creative and delicious desserts at Dex2Rose. Tucked away in a little laneway (where else?), you have to try this little unassuming joint! Pictured above is Milky Playtime, but the star of the show is definitely ‘Mist in the Woods’. It involves a chocolate tasting plate of house made delicious lightly spiced hot chocolate, raspberries, salted caramel gelato, marshmallows and a little fire pit. There is a little glass of water, into which the waitress pours some liquid nitrogen, resulting in a ‘mist’ (rather a fog- which by the way smells HEAVENLY), all over the tasting board, reminding of crisp early winter mornings. This is the time to start toasting your marshmallows onto the little fire pit, and get lost imagining yourself camping in some secluded forest.  Address: 377-379 Little Bourke Street.
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If you are in Melbourne, you HAVE to try Greek food! Here I am at Tsindos, one of the most authentic Greek restaurants right on Lonsdale Street- the place that used to be a hub of Greek culture in Melbourne.
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If you want fancy Greek food, then definitely give ‘Gazi’ a try. Owned by star chef George Calombaris, the food at this restaurant speaks volumes about why Colombaris is one of Australia’s most well known faces. And it’s right in the city centre. Score! 
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Located on Centre Place, ‘The Little Den’ has a crazy long list of chais (if you are a chai lover that is). Tried their Rose chai and Coconut chai. Especially recommended when Melbourne weather decides to go a bit sombre.
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Random Sunday food markets be like
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Guava ice cream at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie.
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Yarra Valley Chocolaterie is stocked with delicious varieties of chocolates, many of which are combined with unusual flavours. And these weird combinations actually work! These are some of the ones I bought, but there are far more unique combinations in store. And there’s also loads of free chocolate available!

STREET GRUNGE

Hosier Lane
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The artists’ work is always in progress so you’ll always catch fresh graffiti every time you come.
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Southbank
         

YARRA VALLEY

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Warratina Lavender Farm, nestled at the foothills of Dandenong Mountain Range.

TarraWarra Winery. Stunning location, beautiful tasting wines, a free tour at one of Australia’s premium wineries.
TarraWarra Winery
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie
Maroondah Reservoir. Just half an hour up the road from Yarra Valley Chocolaterie. Entry is prohibited inside, but you can stop by to take in the picturesque views before continuing along Black Spur Drive.
Black Spur Drive, one of the most picturesque roads in Victoria.

El fin.

Cover photo: Night view of Melbourne Riverside, featuring the Yarra River and King Street Bridge.