Thursday, August 06, 2009

Santiago de Compostela

Our trip to Santiago de Compostela did not begin well. After rising early and rushing madly for the bus we ended up taking a taxi from Portosin 40km to Santiago de Compostela because the buses did not run until 10am on fiesta days and we wanted to arrive for the procession at noon. Just as we were approaching the city, Macsen threw up what seemed like three litres of milk all over Seb and himself. Fortunately, we’d thought to bring an extra set of clothes for him so we cleaned him up upon arrival and he was perfectly happy. Seb, however, spent the day in sticky clothes smelling strongly of sour milk.

It was July 25th and the feast of Saint James in Santiago so the town was chock full of tourists and pilgrims. There were small troops of musicians clad in traditional dress wandering through the streets and huge six meter high puppets dancing along in the plaza outside the cathedral. Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful town with little stone streets, cosy cafĂ©’s and a very impressive plaza alongside an even more impressive cathedral. For 1000 years there has been a tradition of pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James located in this cathedral. More than 100,000 people per year make the pilgrimage along the Way of Saint James. The city issues certificates to those pilgrims who can prove that they have travelled at least 100km by foot or 200km by bike or on horseback to the shrine. Seb was able to convince the authorities that although we had not come by foot, bike or horse we had travelled 1200 nautical miles (~2220km) to be there. After some discussion amongst themselves they were kind enough to issue a certificate in the name of the Davies-Ambtman family. In addition to the sheer beauty of Santiago de Compostela city and the opulence of the cathedral there is a very special feeling in the air even for the non-believer. The fact that my grandfather made the pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago gave it an even more special feel for me.

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