Camino de Santiago - need to know
FIVE GREAT THINGS TO DO IN SANTIAGO
- Marvel at the medieval cathedral and scale its inner chambers to spy the whole city from an elaborate roof-top (€10 for a guided tour).
- Visit the Pilgrim Museum: even if you haven't made a single step of the journey, you'll learn a little about Europe's most fascinating pilgrimage.
- Tuck in to the local seafood. Classic dishes include pulpo a feira (boiled octopus with cayenne pepper), nécoras (spider crabs) and zamburinas (baby scallops). The less adventurous should try caldo Gallego (Galician soup), followed by lacón con grelos (ham hock with greens), all to be washed down with Galicia's fine wines.
- Indulge your sweet tooth with homemade chocolate con churros -- doughnuts resembling rhubarb stalks served with hot chocolate.
- Lose yourself in the winding streets of the old town -- the many watering holes will be your saving grace.
Aer Lingus (0818 365 000; aerlingus.com) flies directly from Dublin to Santiago three times weekly until September 28, 2010, when it ceases for the winter schedule.
This is a Jubilee (or Holy) Year, when the feast of St James lands on a Sunday. It won't happen again until 2021, which means Santiago will be in birthday party mood on July 25. Make sure you book accommodation well in advance.
Hotels are reasonably priced -- you can budget on €100 for most three-star establishments. Food-wise, backpackers could live forever on the tapas served by most bars.
- Beware the sun. Although north-western Spain has a very Irish climate, walkers will find the months of June, July and August very hot as they traverse the Meseta. November, December and January are only for the die-hards. Otherwise, you may as well be walking in west Cork.
See stjamesirl.com; santiago-compostela.net; caminodesantiago.me.uk; or read Spanish Steps by Tim Moore, published by Vintage Books (2005).