19.05.2010 - 21.05.2010 25 °C
The next morning we make use of the hotel’s shuttle bus into town and get dropped off close to the old town. Antonio, the driver is very proud of his town, and makes sure that we know all the sights we need to see. We follow his guidance and head up around the eastern side of the old town, past the university (original buildings form the 14th century) and on to the markets. The markets are still held in the same stone halls that have been used for centuries (with mod cons of course) and you can get all your fruit, vegies, deli, meat, fish, fresh herbs and plants. There are even small landholders that come in with there few bits and pieces to sell in town.
We go through to the Pilgrim’s Gate, where we can see some happy walkers finishing off their pilgrimage. There is an estimate of some 100,000 people doing the various walks each year. There are a steady stream coming in through the town, all sorts of ages, fitness and sizes – well done you!
We are heading out of the old town walls to the Gallacian Museum (Museo de Pobo Galego) in an old convent. We have come here to see a staircase. But before we get in, we get to see some historical aspects of Gallacian life over time. There are some things on the fishing industry, the local crafts and an almost hypnotic old documentary of the life cycle of a sardine tin from the early 20th century – from being printed onto a sheet of metal, having the base stamped, the sides formed and solderd and the whole thing packed into wooden cases to get sent to the cannery. But the staircase – this is an unique triple fluted spiral staircase going up the outer wall of a 4 metre wide cylinder, with access points at different levels for the three different staircase. This means that if you want to go from one level to another, you may have to go down to ground level to switch to another staircase – and be careful to get the right one because it can be along journey back again – good fun and the museum was a very pleasant surprise.
Back into town and to the cathedral (after a tapas lunch) The cathedral is huge, and we haven’t even come through the main entrance. The surprising thing is despite it’s position as one of the three great pilgrimages for Christian, the main hall of the cathedral is quite unadorned. There are a lot of chapels off to the side and the main altar above the remains of St James is very lavish, but most of the rest is bare stone. We then head around to see the remains and give the statue of the apostle a hug, as is the custom. G is quite taken in by the experience.
We then head out to have a look at the outside of the cathedral. It is quite weatherworn, and there are a lot of plants that have taken root in the stonework. The front Facade is HUGE, with the main part of the cathedral being very ornate, but also later additions on either side adding to the bulk, but being at different heights and not really complimentary do take away from it. The cathedral fronts out onto a huge square which also houses the town hall and a Parador (couldn’t get into this one) a very regal site.
The rest of the day is wandering around Santiago, enjoying the streets and the sights. We then head back to the hotel for a hit of tennis with some desperately sad racquets.