Day 13 - Sunday, October 7, 2012 - Walking Tour of Historic Santiago de Compostela; Pilgrimage Site; Praza do Obradoiro; Praza das Praterias; Optional Rías Baixas Cruise
Our morning began with a plentiful breakfast in the hotel. We gathered in the lobby at 9:00 to take the bus for a city tour on this quiet Sunday morning. Not many people were out as Maria, our city guide, told us about the major buildings of the city.
The skies were gray with high clouds and the temperature was 66° and the humidity was 90%. It was a very pleasant day to see the city and we began early before the lines were too long.
When we arrived in the old town, Javier let us off at the Pope John XXIII parking area and we walked on the narrow cobblestone street of this holy town of Santiago de Compostela. There are 57 churches in Santiago, the capital of Galicia.
This city is the end of Pilgrimage of the Way of Saint James whose relics are buried in the twin-spired Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. During the Middle Ages this was the third most important site for pilgrims after Jerusalem and Rome.
Reaching the Praza do Obradoiro, the huge plaza in front of the main entrance of the cathedral, Maria gave us more information about St. James, who was the first martyr of the Catholic Church.
The incense burner, botafumeiro, hanging from the ceiling of the cathedral is huge and is traditionally swung back and forth over the congregation at the end of mass to signify the purification of the people. As we approached the church, the faithful and many tourists were coming out of the 10:00 mass and clouds of the incense hung in the air.
By this time the crowds were immense. Maria helped us all to squeeze into the church to see the main altar piece featuring statues of St. James. Having the “whispers” really helped us to be able to hear without disturbing the parishioners who were there for mass.
The line to go up in back of the altar to touch the statue of St. James was already hundreds of people long so we just visited the main sanctuary to pay our respects to Gennie’s brother’s name saint.
At noon we thanked Maria and had two free hours to explore and to have a light lunch. We just happened upon a street café called Cerveceria 100 Montaditos that had a 1€ Sunday Special. We ordered a small bocadillo, (sandwich) of cheese and Iberian ham, a Caesar salad, chips, a glass of wine, and a soda all for 5 €!
Joan from Boston walked by and saw us eating and joined us for the best meal deal in Spain! After lunch Gennie did a little shopping and we enjoyed walking through some of the back alleys of the old city.
We met our group promptly at 2:00 for an hour’s drive to O Grove and the optional Rías Baixas Cruise. To pass the time Laura and Lucia offered everyone a liqueur of Cream de Orujo, an aguardiente,(fire water), which is a popular beverage in Galicia. We also had an almond cookie that Laura purchased for us.
Javier drove south on E-1 to the Province of Pontevedra and the Atlantic Coast. We boarded a boat and went out into the estuary to observe the process of shell fish farming on rafts in the sea.
A group of 55 day trippers from Portugal joined our group and Vic had a fantastic time talking with them and sharing the common bond of the Portuguese language. These people really know how to party!
After seeing how the shell fish, (mussels, scallops, and oysters) are harvested, we were directed into the center of the ship. The crew served platters of mussels, bowls of shrimp, and white wine. “All you can eat” meant six platters of mussels for our table of eight.
As the Portuguese sang and danced, some of our group joined in the festivities. What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon! At 5:00 the captain pulled back to the dock and we got on our bus for the trip back to the hotel.
Arriving at 6:30 we spent time getting the journal and photos ready to post and then we packed for our early departure in the morning to Madrid and our final day of this Go Ahead Tour.
Accommodations: Hotel Hesperia Peregrino - - - Meal: B,
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Have enjoyed reading your journal. And the pictures have brought back memories of our trip to Spain several years ago. Have you seen any significant signs of their economic issues that we are hearing about in the United States? Keep Traveling!
Day 13 - Saturday, April 22, 2022 - Depart for U.S.
The hotel prepared a box breakfast for us as we had to be in the lobby way before the breakfast room was open.
Last night we found out that our departure flight back to...