On Thursday, one of my teachers told me, “Santiago is one big plaza, one big square.” By Friday, I knew what she meant. It really did feel like the tiny streets and quaint squares all radiated from the centric, sprawling plaza that envelops the cathedral. Walkability in the city’s historic heart easily ranks a 10. I roamed all around the city, spending time in countless churches, four museums, and two parks–all by the end of the day Friday. Since I felt I had seen the major sites, I also took the train an hour south to the town of Pontevedra on Saturday.

Due to the fact that Santiago is a university town, as well as the fact that many lone pilgrims travel here, the city was ready-made for solo travel.  The people I encountered were by and large amiable, and I made several new friends. I heard stories from the camino, putting faces to this mysterious title of pilgrim.  I met four international students from the city’s university, spending the day with them in Pontevedra. Back in Santiago, I played foosball with a local and later went out for a midnight dinner with my hostel’s bartender and five of his friends.

But, as much as I enjoyed meeting people, I also relished the alone time. Sipping coffee by myself, snapping pictures, scribbling in my notebook, and wandering wherever my feet fell forced me to reflect on some of the frustration and discouragement that had been welling up in recent weeks. Perhaps most surprisingly, I hadn’t even recognized these issues until I was disconnected with my normal settings. Once again, I came out of the experience a firm believer in solo trips.

As usual, I’ll let my camera do the talking.

Museo Pobo Gallego, a museum detailing art and history of the Galician people.

Inside the museum, you can find this nifty poster explaining the region’s yoke distribution.

River photo from my day-trip to the nearby town of Pontevedra.

Arcaded plaza, Pontevedra

Here I am, dwarfed by the cathedral in Santiago

One last night shot