Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Holy crap!

Day 35 - 27.05.12 Santiago de Compostela

A grey, cloudy morning puts pay to our idea of a day on the beach and has us get going for Santiago de Compostela instead.  The rain sets in once we’re on the road and it’s a difficult hour long journey.  Our car parking spot is smaller than anticipated and rammed full.  After a lot of searching and a stop for lunch we find a car park beside some university buildings that’s pretty quiet and pull in there. 

Roof of the Santiago de Compostela cathedralSantiago de Compostela Cathedral on the Camino de SantiagoThe historic centre of Santiago is a bit of an assault on the senses!  It is full to the brim with intricate historical buildings; so much so it’s easy to get a little jaded about the lesser detailed buildings which if taken alone would be incredibly impressive!  Our first stop is the famous cathedral, which despite the awful weather is bustling with tourist and Camino walkers. 

The fa├žade is beautiful and really very imposing, if a little grubby looking!  Sadly my pictures on this dismal day don’t really do it justice.  Inside the huge golden altar and ginormous incense burner are astonishing but somewhat gaudy!  It’s surprisingly small inside and I didn’t get the general sense of awe I find in most massive cathedrals.  That said there are lots of nooks and crannies to look around inside and the entry is of course free! 

Everywhere you turn in the centre you come across another masterpiece of a building.  Even the normal looking ones have elaborate features here and there.  All of the major sightseeing spots are very close together, great if you hate walking but a little intense otherwise!  There are a lot of tacky tourist shops pushily vying for trade around the cathedral which does tarnish the area a little, as too does the sheer number of people around.  Perhaps we’re too used to tranquil seaside towns but Santiago just feels a little…much.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some jaw-droppingly stunning things to see here but it’s very hard to take everything in.  

Aside from the architecture, Santiago also has lots of great green spaces.  There are numerous large parks dotted around and one we walk through is has a massive outdoor market and fair that is closing for the day.  It makes a blissful change of pace after the bombardment of the old town!

The skyline of Santiago de Compostela

After a good look around we head back to the van.  We’re a little concerned about whether we’ll get hassle for parking here when the students and lecturers turn up in the morning and so decide to make the most of Sunday’s quiet roads to head back to Noia on the coast.  It’s a short, if at times steep uphill drive (sorry Van Diesel) and our parking spot by the port is really pretty.  It’s quite late and everything is closed on Sundays anyway so we’ll save the exploring for tomorrow.  Now it’s time for dinner and a movie.

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