"The majestic city of St James" Santiago de Compostela by Maryimelda
Santiago de Compostela Travel Guide: 715 reviews and 2,281 photos
As we sat having a leisurely lunch on a restaurant veranda in St Jean Pied de Port, a group of pilgrims walked past eagerly anticipating the road ahead. They were headed for Santiago de Compostela some 800 plus kms down the road and I wanted to go with them so badly it hurt. My friend and I had decided to do the Camino by car this time with the view to some day coming back and doing it as true pilgrims. But seeing these enthusiastic people of all ages, shapes and sizes with smiles from ear to ear, heading out on the adventure of their lives, was almost more than I could bear. I was forty nine shades of green with envy. Back into our rented Mercedes we went and passed them at the foot of the Pyrenees. We would be there tomorrow, they would be there next month.
The next twenty four hours were magical. There was such a change of scenery as we moved near to Compostela. We had the night in Burgos and crawled all over the Cathedral there. Then the next morning as we sat on yet another cafe veranda (this time in Astorga) having a coffee, some pilgrims walked across the carpark in front of us. By this time we had seen so many of them along the way that now my friend was also wishing he could be with them. Well this is what we came for after all. We wanted to see if this might be a travel option for us at some time in the future and it was now certainly shaping up that way. We were fascinated watching them disappear down what seemed like rabbit burrows at the side of the road or seeing others emerging from the bush further down the road. What were they privy to down there that we were missing? We knew that we had to find out.
We were sixty kilometres from our destination when we passed yet another group trudging the road. I couldn't resist calling out the window "keep going, you're almost there!" To which my friend replied, "Correction Kate, you are almost there and you will be within the hour. They have two more days to go yet." I hadn't thought of that.
Sure enough less than an hour later we came upon the city of Santiago de Compostela. As we drove the high road which would eventually lead us down into the old city, my friend whimsically enquired, "What's that in the distance?" And there it was the Cathedral of St James, just like all the photos. To me Santiago de Compostela might have been Utopia or Shangri-La or Camelot. It was a fabulous place one read about in storybooks, it didn't really exist. But here I was driving into this fantasy place and before too long I would walk up the stairs of that fabulous Cathedral.
As we moved around the Cathedral with I'm sure, our mouths permanently wide open and eyes agog, we passed a long queue near the high altar. My friend told me to get on the queue and when I asked why, he explained that this was the queue to go up the stairs behind the big gold statue of St James and give him a hug to thank him for a safe journey. I replied that I wasn't eligible to hug St James because I hadn't walked the Camino. To which he answered "Kate, some people walk, some people, ride bicycles, some travel in wheelchairs and roller skates and some travel in Mercedes Benzes, now get on the queue!" So I did.
That night I went to sleep to the sounds of some very jubilant pilgrims outside singing and laughing. Normally I might find this annoying when I'm trying to sleep but somehow this time it was different. I lay there and wallowed in the noise which to me was better than a lullabye.
The next day we were able to see the Botafumeiro swing at the Pilgrim's Mass and we were over the moon. Our visit to Compostela was complete.
- Pros:So much to see, fabulous atmosphere, great food and wine.
- Cons:None whatsoever
- In a nutshell:A dream come true.
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