Camino de Santiago (Camino Inglés) Day 2: Tortilla de Betanzos, the Albergue, and a bakery from the 1600s
So here I was, finally, at the Holy Grail of tortillas, and a main impetus of this entire camino, Betanzos. The town was a cute little place, and the Camino Inglés takes you right into the middle of town.
Knowing that the albergue in Betanzos was a desirable one, but with only 35 beds, I headed straight over. It certainly was in a very attractive building, the old Casa de Pescadería or fish market.
There were already other peregrinos, or pilgrims, waiting in line for the 1pm opening time. The albergue only has its doors open from 1pm to 10pm, so you do need to get back in before the curfew if you want to sleep in your bed!
When 1pm rolled around, we went in, in the order of arrival. Registration took a while, because the two staff needed to check your pilgrim’s credentials, your passport, take the 6€ for the night, write down all of the info by hand in a ledger, and hand over your disposable sheets.
I’d never encountered disposable sheets before!
They’re like the material of certain hair nets or airline pillows, a very thin, rather fragile non-woven material that puts a layer between the mattress and pillow, and your own sleep sheet or sleeping bag. It was warm enough at night that I only used a silk sleep sheet to sleep in.
The albergue had really nice facilities, with spacious bathrooms and shower stalls, and remnants of the building’s history.
I also learned from my fellow hostel-mates that you have to leave your walking boots outside of the sleeping rooms on these shelves - to keep the smell away!
While waiting in line to enter the albergue, I struck up a conversation with two really friendly guys. They were cousins, it turned out, and one was an aerospace engineer from Sevilla, and the other a surgeon from Extremadura but living in Huelva. I overheard them talking about Meson O’Pote, which was the exact restaurant I had phone weeks earlier to find out if they were open in August! It was known as having the “best” tortilla de Betanzos, and the two guys had seen a TV program about the place. So we made plans to head there after settling in to the hostel.
We went along with a couple girls from Italy, and arrived just in time because we nabbed a table for 5 with no wait, while those coming in after us were told the restaurant was full.
You can see highlighted in the menu below, that their tortilla won a national award!
So of course we ordered that…
…and cut open, it revealed its trademark runniness and thinly sliced chips of potatoes. While in general this level of uncooked egg is a bit “rare” for me, I thought it was quite delicious, and far preferred it over the “tortilla de Betanzos” that I had tried in Madrid, at Taberna Pedraza (review here, along with many other tortillas). That tortilla was simply watery inside.
Besides the tortilla, we also ordered “Luras en fritura,” or tempura calamari strips. Their batter was a bit gummy and greasy, and clumped together.
The entrecot with Galician beef was much better - clean and simple, with a side of the roasted pimientos de Padrón.
I ordered the roasted Galician beef leg with sphered potatoes. The meat was super tender, like braised meet, with a rich, deep flavor and whose sauce went well with the potatoes.
After lunch, I walked to a main attraction of the town, the Parque del Pasatiempo. This “park” was super curious; it was conceived of by a guy who made his fortune in the New World, and with this money he wanted to make a park that could teach the public about nature, history, and science. So there are sculptures of dinosaurs in artificial grottoes, wall reliefs of “exotic” cultures, and a central lake showing the most advanced technology in transportation at the time of construction, the turn of the 20th century.
After the park, I went to a bakery that turned out to be one of the oldest bakeries in all of Spain, dating to the early 1600s.
Inside Horno Rabizas, I found a selection of a few pastries and empanadas.
I ordered a slice of empanada willed with cod, which was pretty good, although the crust towards the crimped edges got a bit dry and bready.
I asked what was typical of the area, and the woman pointed me to these things that were kind of like macaroons, but made with almonds. They were rather dense and sweet, and seeing as how they seemed to be sturdy enough for a backpack, I saved a couple for the road tomorrow.
I also picked up some fruit earlier in the day, at another Gadis supermarket: an apple, inspired by the apple trees I had seen on the road, and these cute green plums. The fruit completed nicely the light dinner which I ate sitting outside at the main town square.
After dinner, I retired to the albergue, took a shower, and relaxed writing in my journal and charging my phone (electrical outlets! another plus of the albergue!).
And thus ended Day 2 of the Camino Inglés.