Welcome to Galicia, where the legend of Santiago was born. This northwesternmost corner of the Spanish Peninsula bears little resemblance to the type of landscape that typically comes to mind when thinking about Spain. It is wet, and very green, and the mountains that surround it have for centuries kept it isolated from the rest of the country.
The language here is Gallego and although it has been distilled into one teachable form, you are more likely to get an earful of a more rustic, ancient, and totally incomprehensible version as you pass from one village to another. Village is perhaps too generous of a word, hamlet would be better suited… or perhaps just ‘place’ as so many collections of more than one building are often called here.
For centuries the land here has been fought over by invaders, but the Galicians did not defend it with quite the same gusto as their Basque counterparts and as a result they have spent most of recorded history an occupied nation. Perhaps this is the reason that Galicians have a reputation for being introverted, or guarded, or skeptical, and above all non-committal. Ask a Galician on a staircase the saying goes, and he will be unable to tell you which direction he is heading.
You are likely to find Celtic symbols carved into the stone of a home, or a church. Common also are witches, both the good kind and the bad kind. Hearty soups, a darker bread with a heavier crust, and a strong liqueur (the by-product of the local wine production) are a part of every meal.
The terrain will change as you get closer to Santiago. Mountains shrink as you head west, but they become more frequent and by the time you reach the Apostle you will find precious little flat ground.