17 January 2010

A Coruña

If Santiago weren't cool enough, I now know I can take a half-hour train ride to another wonderful, beautiful, exciting city. Yesterday along with my classmates I took a train to A Coruña, another city here in Galicia. We arrived at about 11, found a good map, and took a taxi to a part of the city where there were several hotels. Then we checked in, dropped off our bags and set out for whatever we could find. Most of the notable sites were in the same general area, so we started walking that direction.

Within two minutes we could see the ocean. The road runs along the water with a huge sidewalk, and below the sidewalk are rocks that go right up into the water. Every 100 yards or so there is a park, or a staircase, or a beach that goes out to the ocean where the water is crystal clear. It was too cold to swim (which didn't stop these two crazy guys we saw who stripped down to their underwear and jumped in), but walking along the beach was great. I saw tons of people running, and I don't blame them because it's the perfect place. There are plenty of parks to spare the knees the sidewalk, and the whole time you can see the ocean and places built in the 1st and 2nd centuries. I may have to go back sometime just to run.

We took a street car toward La Torre (tower) de Hercules, a giant tower built by the Romans centuries ago and the only working Roman lighthouse in the world. When we reached the end of the line on the street car we were at El Castillo de San Anton, an old castle/fortress which is now an archaeology and history museum. We toured the castle, which dates back to the Roman and Iron Age periods and then headed to the old city of A Coruña for lunch. The seafood in A Coruña is supposed to be exceptional, so we asked for directions to a good place for seafood. I don't even really like seafood, but I ate a sopa de mariscos (seafood soup) and salmon because it felt like a necessary part of the trip. I haven't converted to liking seafood, but I was satisfied with my meal.

After lunch we headed toward La Torre. Before we got there we found a park full of monuments--the amount of green space beside the water in this city is astounding--and decided to head through it to La Torre. We were in this park for a couple of hours because it was beautiful. There were several different paths and it's completely acceptable to walk on the grass, so we took our time and enjoyed the ocean. When we finally got to La Torre it was closed, but we agreed the walk was worth it. We headed back to the hotel where we had dinner and rested our weary legs (we did a lot of walking, and that's saying something considering we already walk everywhere).

After breakfast this morning we headed back to La Torre to go inside. It was a hike up the steps, but from the top you could see the ocean and the city, and it was well worth the trip back and the walk up the stairs. After La Torre we walked to the Ascensor Panoramico Monte San Pedro, a huge elevator-type lift that takes you up to the top of Mount San Pedro, offering another panoramic view of the city and the ocean.

After the lift we had lunch and headed to the train station to return to Santiago. The train ride itself is beautiful with views of the country and little houses sitting on hillsides in green fields. It's like something out of a movie (as a matter of fact, I feel closer to Harry Potter every day I'm here and I might as well have been headed to Hogwarts). A Coruña was wonderful, but coming back to Santiago was a reminder that we just left another exceptional city.

Another bonus: this entire trip was cheap. It cost about 10 euros to get there and back, most of the places we visited cost about 2 euros (one had free admission on Saturday), and my hotel room cost 15 euros after splitting it with 2 others. Including food and taxis, the entire trip was under 75 euros.

I've officially been here a week, and it still seems unreal. I'm looking forward to more weekend adventures.

As always, there are pictures. In fact, everything I saw seemed like something I wanted to share so this trip has an entire album all its own. The photo album is currently under construction because Facebook doesn't like the pictures. There will be a link when I get that figured out.

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