12 August The Glorious Twelfth S Iago de Compostela

Magnetic Attraction
Roger and Margaret Pratt
Wed 12 Aug 2009 20:19
The big day dawned.  I remembered that it was Roger's birthday when I woke up - and before he did.  We got up early and caught 10.30am train to S Iago.  This was not a simple process.  We had to get to the station by bus - and had been given two options by different people in the tourist info office - the 1A from the Darsena La Marina (a 15 minute walk from our marina, to the bus station and then a walk to the train station, but a shorter ride;) or the 5 from the Military Museum at the top of the hill in the old city (about a 5 minute walk, dropping us at the train station, but a longer journey.)  In the event the decision was made for us as we saw the 5 bus leaving and so it was a swifter process to walk to catch the 1A.  There is a flat fare of 1.06euros per journey.  We got return tickets to S Iago and the total cost was 17.85euros - cheaper than the express bus which is 24 euros for 2 people.  The journey took 45 minutes.  It was clear that a lot of upgrade works are being undertaken on the track, part funded by the EU.  The temperature was 23 degrees.  I felt cold on the train and wore a cardigan.
Wendy had given us a tourist map which had a marked tour of the historic city.  We walked through the market (it's huge!) and the university quarter, through the pedestrian streets.  We ended up in the Praza de Obradoiro, in front of the cathedral.  There were a lot of people celebrating the completion of their pilgrimage. carrying backpacks, walking sticks with gourds, and wearing coquille S Jacques shells with S Iago crosses painted on in red.  There were buskers, traditional dancers and beggars: the best buskers were a trio of flute, electric mandolin and electric guitar playing Pachelbel's Canon. 
The queues were immense, and neither of us fancied waiting in the heat,  which was reflected off the paving slabs.  We ended up in the Praza da Quintana, where we sat in the shade under the soportales and had a beer, then some tapas (plates of cockles; sausages; and chips.)  Here is the view.  The building on the left is the back of the cathedral.
After lunch we snuck into the cathedral via the shop, avoiding the queues.  We visited the crypt and saw the casket containing the relics.  The demonstrable wealth - the quantity of gold leaf and rich carving caused both of us to remember my father (Tsk, Tsk, Tsk) and caused us to remember that we were brought up as low church.  It was getting very hot indeed - for the first time this holiday I started to actively seek out the shade.  There was no wind.  We walked up to the Alameda park in the shade, where there was a wonderful view of the city, before we went back to the station.  We both felt that S Iago is a place to rev isit - another time we'd go straight to the museums etc early, and then go down the hill towards San Clemente for lunch.  But 2010 is a holy year - so the crowds will be mega next year.
The 16.43 train was delayed.  The temperature was 34C.  I read about the Pilgrims' Way on the way back, and Roger rested his eyes for a very considerable part of the journey.  Catching the no 5 bus home was a challenge - we could NOT find the bus stop - so we ended up catching one in the wrong direction and just sitting tight until it came back to where we should have been in the first place.  We ate Pimerntos de Padron for supper plus other mini tapas - neither of us fancied a full dinner.
We had an email from Chris & Lyn Darch in NZ with news about Becky and Ike on Rhythm.  Thanks Guys!