Here is what a “Compostela” looks like:
Its all in Latin, including the Latinization of our names. Translated, it says:
The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint James, custodian of the seal of Saint James’ Altar, to all faithful and pilgrims who come from everywhere over the world as an act of devotion, under vow or promise to the Apostle’s Tomb, our Patron and Protector of Spain, witnesses in the sight of all who read this document, that: Mr/Mrs/Ms…………………has visited devoutly this Sacred Church in a religious sense (pietatis causa).
Witness whereof I hand this document over to him, authenticated by the seal of this Sacred Church.
Given in Saint James of Compostela on the (day) …… (month) …… A.D. ……”
After we received our Compostelas on Wednesday afternoon, we got a taxi back to San Marcos, a village we passed on our way into Santiago on Wednesday morning, where we had a reservation for the night at Hotel Akelarre.
Thursday morning we slept late and after a late breakfast, walked across the street and caught a bus (1€) into Santiago.
We had booked two nights in A Casa do Peregrino (120€/nt)
which is located on Cervantes Plaza
less than 100 steps from the Catedral (“Cathedral” in Spanish) de Santiago de Compostela. It’s a great location because every pilgrim who walks the Camino and is on his or her way to collect their Compostela, must pass by our room (with a balcony overlooking the street).
As we discovered in 2017 when we also stayed here, the positive energy and excitement of pilgrims from all over the world about to fulfill their goal fills the air throughout each day.
When we weren’t soaking up the energy from our balcony we were walking among the pilgrims, tourists and locals in this medieval city, exploring and marveling at the boundless examples of architectural masterpieces and religious relics accumulated over the past 1000 years or so and beautifully concentrated in this single location.
The Cathedral, whose magnificent exterior we happily saw uncovered for the first time and kept revisiting, viewing and photographing, was almost totally masked in the interior by scaffolding and draped in ugly plastic and fabric sheeting while a near total refurbishing effort is underway to prepare for 2021, the upcoming Holy Year celebration. The noon mass, a central part of most pilgrim’s Camino experience was not even being held here, but in another church, while work was underway. It was really sad to see all the coverings, and knowing from our previous visits, what beauty and inspiration, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims (for many, a once-in-a-lifetime- experience) are missing and will continue to miss for the next two years.
The iconic statue of Santiago (St James) the focal point of the Cathedral, was obscured by scaffolding and plastic draping. Faithful pilgrims still lined up for the chance to embrace the statute from the platform behind the altar and to view the tomb and sarcophagus containing the remains of the Apostle, in spite of the disarray of the refurbishing effort.
We has an interesting lunch at Cervantes, a nearby restaurant discovered by Linda in 2017. We selected a variety of tapas and shared a plate of Padrón pimentos.
This morning, Friday, we checked out of our hotel and walked about a half mile or so, south, away from the old city into the very much more modern version of Santiago de Compostela to Hotel Gelmirez,
our home for the weekend, and began a new phase of our post Camino 2019 adventure.
If our life was simplified on the Camino these past couple of months, it really got simple when we moved into Gelmirez. It was a very nice, modern, roomy habitacion con baño. The hotel had a buffet breakfast but no bar or restaurant or other services. It seemed to be a terminal for pilgrims finishing the Camino or tour groups doing a short version of the Camino.
Bar/restaurants, takeout food and nice grocery stores were nearly next door to the hotel, so eating and snacking were effortless and fun.
We spent our time resting, reading and exploring the area between the old city
and the train station, again, effortlessly and without a backpack.
During the two day stay we had sunshine and overcast/drizzle, but it had no impact on any of our “activities”.
On Monday morning we donned our packs and walked 10 minutes to the train station, had breakfast, bought a snack lunch for the 5:15hr trip to Madrid, boarded the train at 7:35 and pulled out of the station at precisely 7:48 to begin our trip back home.