On the way to Santiago, I asked the driver what he recommended I do. This is why I love talking to locals; he mentioned a famous event that simulated the Viking invasions of Catoira, a small village that was a short train ride away from Santiago. Every first Sunday of August since 1960, the locals have put on costumes and ridden Viking-style boats to the shores of the ancient fort, and pretend-fight to the amusement of visitors.
My friend and I pilfered a spot by the riverbank and enjoyed the show. We had a laugh as the barbarians grabbed and embraced spectators, covering them unexpectedly with mud.
Back in Santiago, I was excited to meet fellow blogger Erin. She took us to a pulperia (a place to enjoy octopus) far from the tourists - again, a reason to befriend locals. It was cool to explore the old center and see in person the city that Erin and Trevor, another blogger, have written about. The old town looked mostly gray, which appealed to my memories of my Canadian hometown.
Another cool experience was attending mass in the beautiful Cathedral of Santiago. At the end, a group of men pulled a long rope that had a giant incense chamber hanging on the other end. It swung back and forth, spreading its scent throughout the church.
Throughout my time in Santiago, I met amazing pilgrims and locals. It was a great experience chatting with them, and that feeling carried me onto the second part of my vacation: Lisbon, Portugal.
to be continued...