We caught a bus from Muxía to Santiago yesterday. Tomorrow morning we catch a train for Madrid. Tomorrow afternoon we’ll go to the Madrid airport where we can get a covid test to satisfy requirements to get back into the US. Then (assuming results are negative!) we’ll stay in a hotel near the airport tomorrow night and head back to the airport Wednesday morning to fly home via Dallas.
I’m looking forward to being home, seeing my Mom and good friends. Seeing what the plants in our yard are doing. Getting caught up on Jeopardy. Ha ha. Going back to the gym now that we are feeling more comfortable about covid. Getting back to our normal life. But I feel sad about leaving Spain. It’s a special place. I’ll miss the beautiful, kind, happy people. I’ll miss the cafés and bars and wonderful grocery stores. I’ll miss the relaxed, generous way of life here.
Water: As we’ve mentioned before, when one chooses the menu del día, either water or wine is included. Actually, if one of us chooses water and the other wine, we can have both. We tried the wine a few times and it was good as far as we could tell but we found that drinking wine at lunch makes us draggy for the rest of the day so we mostly have stayed with water. If you don’t get the menu del día, you have to order water separately and it is never tap water. I guess you could order tap water but it would be embarrassing. The thing is, the tap water here tastes wonderful. We use it in our hiking water bottles and everywhere it is excellent. It seems such a shame to use bottled water in the restaurants. All that plastic. And it doesn’t taste nearly as good as the tap water. I’m sure the tap water is safe or safer than the bottled water.
The Bill: I don’t think any waiter has ever offered us the check. You have to ask. I think the idea is they want you to feel welcome to hang out as long as you wish. I think even if the restaurant were very crowded they wouldn’t rush you off. But we don’t tend to stay terribly long so maybe they would eventually gently nudge us out the door.
Tipping: We’ve read and have been told that tipping is not expected here. If you have a little change left over after you pay your bill you might leave it behind. (This is not about eating out but, we’ve had a couple of taxi rides that we thought were way too inexpensive and were glad when it was easy to round up to leave a bit of a tip. They seem to appreciate it.)
Rare to pay up front: When you order coffee at a bar, they never ask for money up front or tell you the price. Prices for things like coffee are never posted so you never know what you’ll end up paying. But as we’ve mentioned before, it’s never very much. And, often they’ll give you a cookie or piece of cake or a tortilla (piece of Spanish omelette) or other little tapa with your coffee. There is never any additional charge. Even if the bar is mobbed with people, they won’t ask for money up front. It would be very easy for people to leave without paying their bill. I don’t know if it happens very often. Probably not. People here are very trusting and that is probably because people here are, in general, honest.
Breakfast: As in many parts of Europe (UK excepted) breakfast here is typically small: coffee and a pastry, for example. I’m sure they think we are strange when we come in and ask for fried eggs and toast.
First Course and Second Course: We’ve ordered a few meals a la carte, meaning we didn’t order a menu del día. We just pick out a few things that look good, not thinking about what course they go with. But the waiter always discusses with us which course we want the dishes to go in, especially if, say, we’ve ordered 3 things that are all typical first courses such as salads and stews.
Every time we leave a room Wynette asks me to check under the beds (because I have more flexible knees). I do it and I never find anything, except in a private room we had in an albergue early this trip. I saw something black, it was an opened condom wrapper, with German writing.
In our last airbnb there was a cabinet with games and books, and an unopened box of 12 condoms, not normally supplied by airbnb hosts.
In between I did find something under the bed as we were leaving, my rain skirt that had rolled under somehow, so good thing Wynette reminded me to check. (Wynette made me say that.)
As a bonus here is the Monopoly board. It’s fun to see foreign Monopoly boards.
We stayed in an airbnb advertised as a ”penthouse”. That is not exactly correct but it is on the top floor, the fifth floor by the US system. There are three apartments on the top level. It is also on just about the highest hill in Muxia so we had great views.
The apartment itself is interesting. You go into a central foyer and there are six doors around it, plus the washer and dryer and water heater. The rooms are: the living room, the kitchen, the master bedroom (which has a bathroom), the bathroom, and two bedrooms.
We see these old stone fences all over Muxia and other places in Galicia. We could not figure out what their purpose was. They were small, the fences were low, couldn’t be for animals or property rights. The guy we met from Portugal had the answer, he had seen them before. When you clear a field you remove as many rocks as possible. You put them to the side, not too far, hence the small size. Often they are just left there, we have seen that on the Camino. But if you are in a place with a lot of wind (and Muxia definitely qualifies) you can build the stones into walls that act as wind breaks for the plants, especially the young ones. And, according to our Portuguese source, if you grow grapes by the walls they act as heat sinks and change the character of the wine. He said that is one thing that is responsible for the taste of Madeira wine.