Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Santiago Seafood

The seafood you see along the main restaurant street in Santiago is enticing. Displayed so all you have to do is point and choose, it's quite a tourist attraction. 

But the truth is, you can take a train to Muxia or a bus to Finisterre and eat seafood while you watch the waves breaking on the shore for about the same  price you will pay in Santiago for your dinner!

Inside Santiago Cathedral

This is another post for Vonda, my cousin.  

When pilgrims arrive in Santiago, they have certain rituals they perform at the Cathedral. 

One is to simply stand out in the giant square and look up at the Cathedral, thankful you have arrived alive after your six week journey. Some pilgrims fall to their knees. Some lie on their backs and just look up. Some sit in a circle of friends. There is back slapping and joyous laughter and often, tears. 

Next, in the past, the pilgrim would enter the Cathedral and beneath the Portico de la Gloria (Google it) they would place their fingers in the depressions on the Tree of Jesse pillar. The Portico was created over a twenty year period by the master sculptor, Mateo, who finished it in 1188. 

The depressions have been worn into the stone pillar by thousands of pilgrims over the years. 

As they touched the pillar, they repeated the prayer or petition that brought them on the pilgrimage to begin with. 

Next, they would walk around to the other side of the pillar and would touch their forehead or 'knock heads' with the statue of Mateo three times. This was supposed to give them some of the Master's wisdom!

I have been lucky enough to have done these rituals before the area was roped off to protect it. Pilgrims are no longer allowed to touch the pillar or knock heads with Mateo. They can only stand behind a rope, look and take photos. 

After this, the pilgrim gets in line to walk up some ancient stone steps that lead behind the altar to the gilded statue of St James. More New World gold and silver! 

Once there, they give him a hug, thanking him for a safe journey. When you are up there hugging the huge statue, you can see the people down on the floor of the cathedral. It's the strangest feeling!

A green light indicates when the entrance is open and a red light marks the exit. 

Next, you visit the saint's casket under the floor of the cathedral. Supposedly, the remains of the Apostle James are there. But again, if you Google the history, it's doubtful. Even so, everyone goes to the crypt where his (or someones) relics (bones) are kept in a beautiful silver casket. 

Last, you attend a pilgrim mass. If you  are lucky you will see the huge botafumeiro (incense burner) swing. I think I have an entire blog post on this a year ago. 

You can see Martin Sheen performing these traditions in the movie, The Way, which is worth watching if you haven't seen it. 

The statue of St James Matamoros (the Moor Killer) is purposefully covered with flowers on the bottom these days so you can't see the dead Moslems. I've added a photo of what the statue looks like without the flowers. That statue is in a church near the coast. I wonder why they feel they must cover it up?  It's a part of their history and everyone knows what's down there?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Photos of Santiago Cathedral

Following are photos I took this morning for my cousin, Vonda. She wondered why I hadn't been posting. I was surprised and pleased to know she was following my blog!

So here you go, outside first. Once I'm home I can caption them, but my iPhone won't allow it.

You also would be shocked at the beggars sitting outside every door if the Cathedral!  

Do a Google search on the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral for interesting history. Or it might be in an earlier blog from a few years back.   I will add it once I'm home and don't have to type with one thumb.  :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hospederia San Martin Pinario

I decided to spend my last night in Santiago at San Martin Pinario, the monastery which has become a favorite of mine. 

Built for Benedictine monks, construction began in the late 1500's and took over 200 years to conclude. 

Elegantly simple, I've attached photos beginning with the entrance. Notice the yellow arrow?  That is the first thing to catch a pilgrim's eye, we are so used to looking for them to guide our way along the Camino. 

Next, I took photos of walking down the hall, and included are photos of my monk cell room. Each room has a tiny but sufficient bathroom with toilet (complete with pull-chain flush, sink, and shower). 

Price for a pilgrim room is 24 euros and that includes a large buffet breakfast making this the best deal in town. Wifi is free in the comedor and you can purchase computer time if you didn't bring electronics. 

Regular rooms run 45 for a single and 60 for a double. They are larger and more luxurious.