Coffee and Wine Bookend Our Days

I am back with another Camino edition of the blog. We all had such a good time on our trip and I really hate to stop talking about it. Thankfully, I have been able to share all that I learned with two more friends who are walking the Camino soon. One is leaving in May and another in June. I so wish that I could go again with them, it was that great.

One thing y’all wanted to know more about was the food. Thankfully, we took pictures of many of our dinners because one of the daughters who was following our progress from her home in Atlanta asked for food pictures. Little did I know that all of those moments would come in handy for the FMM community!

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Our meal after our first full day of walking was our only “Pilgrim’s Menu” dinner. As it was early in the season, we were some of the only pilgrims on The Way. As we walked into the deserted town, I asked a woman where I should eat dinner. She was quite enthusiastic about us eating in our hotel. Little did we know that the town was so small and we were so early in the season that our hotel would be our only option. Thankfully, we were the only guests and were able to choose when we wanted to eat.

When it was time for dinner, we went downstairs and walked into a room that looked like many Parish basements I have visited. Our table was set and the man who checked us in upstairs was there to bring us water. His wife cooked the food and his son waited on us. After a “perilous” start with the water taxi and 10 miles along the coast with protein bars for lunch we were ready for some real food.

The lovely family who worked so hard for us provided a feast. There was soup, Spanish Tortilla, salad, and a cake for dessert. The Spanish Tortilla was a casserole with eggs, potatoes, and onions. After a long day of over 10 miles, it was perfect. I am just so sad that I did not get a picture of this wonderful family who was so attentive to our every need. If you do the Portuguese Way, you have to stay at Hotel A Raina if you stop in Oia, Spain for the night.

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Every morning we would wake early to eat the breakfast that the hotel provided. Usually, it was coffee and juice along with bread, ham, cheese and assorted baked items. Most mornings we had fresh fruit and yogurt as well. Following breakfast we would set out to try to find the Camino markers and arrows.

Because we were walking through relatively small villages, the only places we found to eat were bars that served sandwiches or soup for lunch. Quite often our arrival at the bar did not coincide with meal time so we just took advantage of the coffee which was always delicious.

Each evening we would arrive at our new hotel. Depending upon the size of the town, we would shop, rest, and figure out what to eat for dinner. If the town was large enough and we did not have a long day ahead of us, we would wait until the restaurants opened at 8:00 to eat dinner. If we knew that there were many miles to cover the next day, it might be tapas in a bar.

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Most meals were eaten communally sharing and tasting a wide variety of new dishes. Our favorite discovery of the trip was Alabriño, a light white wine. Produced from the grape vines we passed along the way, this wine was inexpensive, easy to find, and paired well with the Clams and Calamari each night.

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Jillian celebrated her birthday on our trip and we had the most fabulous meal in the basement of a historic restaurant in Pontevedra, Spain. It was a magnificent meal with lots of laughter and what felt like plate after plate of delicious food.

As with any trip, there are surprises. In a very small, sleepy town of Arcade, Spain the owner of Mariscos de la Ria shared a local delicacy with us: Barnacles, or Percebes. These little shell fish look like something from another planet and took us a while to gather the courage to try. Because we did not want to appear like we did not know what we were doing, we each tried to open and eat them in our own way. After a few failed attempts, we got the hang of it and they were quite delicious.

Of course, no trip is complete without trying the local pastries and this bakery, Panaderia Magallanes, in Vigo did not disappoint. My only regret was not buying more cream puffs and eclairs! I am so glad Janine was insistent that we stop. There was not much we liked about Vigo because it took so long to get there, but these pastries were worth the walk.

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Several of us were able to enjoy a full day in Santiago at the end of the journey. We discovered a sweet spot for lunch that was built into the side of a hill just in front of the Cathedral. After two weeks of eating protein bars for lunch, we were all thrilled to have a delicious meal in a beautiful setting. Later that afternoon, we were rewarded to discover a lovely garden for coffee and wine.

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Although we found many of the doors to the churches we passed locked tight, we were fed each day in prayer, conversation, strong coffee, and laughter. Each night there were tales around the table of the things we saw along the way, the interesting people we met, how we lost our way and found it again, and always much laughter.

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