Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

The cathedral is quite an edifice. Built in granite, therefore rather cold and “bleak” in atmosphere.
Its’ architectural beauty and breath taking grandeur is not in the top 10. Not that in any way can I claim to pontificate! From what I can remember it is surpassed only by the Vatican in terms of human activity and mayhem. In the huge plaza Pilgrims of all ages loiter or lay about; others sit trance like, yet others, younger and hippy like, chat on their iPhones – to whom I wonder: boyfriends, girlfriends, family or local parish priest?

Why have they done this pilgrimage? Is it for the same reason that in 1960s hippies flocked across the subcontinent searching for enlightenment and hashish? In 2012 kids come to a stone edifice, in 1969 they just trekked across a continent wanting
to be”stoned”!

I toured the cathedral and descended to gaze upon St James casket. I crept into crypt, clicked and crept out. Silver gilded casket – dust to dust within I suspect ? The guide books state that the church and tomb contain “his relics”.

Each day in the cathedral there is held a Pilgrim mass at noon, church packed to the domes, choir and a veritable procession of clerics – but no smells or bells not even a cherubic alter boy! The catholic church is keeping up with technology – the service is “mic-ed” and shown on big TV screens throughout.

Practicing my little curtsy – getting better – it’s all a simple matter of bending at the knees!

Along each side of the knave are a series of confessionals each manned by a priest. There was a lot of sin along the Camino I assumed, as they were ALL constantly “occupied”. If the church can video a service, it is a minor step to Improve the confessional queue by introducing the “take a number and wait to be called” system for confessional. Although I am not clear in my own mind how this would comply with “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” edict?

I looked around me at the multitude and pondered how many actually “believed”? That included the more than a dozen priests involved in the service! Surely there must be a doubting Thomas or two amongst them?

Lots if bikes : serious BMX ( ie expensive) and tandems. Cyclists in full riding rig. One can buy Camino Knicks and top complete with a Camino trade-mark, the mussel /clam shell, tastefully printed across one’s arse.

Having commented before of the little evidence of supermarkets, they are now quite obvious but not in anyway resembling Woolies,Coles or IGA. Small and closed between 1400 and 1900 hours!

Most shops are small and individual – every second shop is a cafe/bar. Basic shops that evoke the old corner store of bygone days and bread shops that have no sense of a Baker’s Delight or Brumbys. I fear I am about to lapse, dietary wise!

Considering the world population in the 1600 years from Jesus’ birth, the sheer size and breadth of artistic creations in all it’s forms and all in the name of God, beggars belief. It is awe inspiring. I guess that in medieval times, it was subsistence and survival. In ones’ spare time, rather than poking an iPad by candle light one knocked up a stone column, a tapestry, a silver chalice, a triptych, fresco or painting.

Sadly all the cathedrals, churches, basilica, monasteries, convents and hospitals have blurred into a theological thesaurus of similar structures. I will be totally unable to differentiate upon my return.

All along the delightful quaint medieval paved streets are the inevitable tourist shops as well as cake stalls. The principle delight is a Santiago Cake- basically an almond orange cake that I make at home. It is dusted with icing sugar into which is marked a cross. Easy Peasy!

Tom Jones concert tonight in a huge plaza beside the cathedral. Starts at 11.30pm!! Yes you have read correctly!

I now admit after all these years that whilst I am sure of my orientation, I have absolutely no sense of direction. Even with a Garmin GPS or a map, I can’t find my way around easily! If I were the Prodigal Son, I would never return.

Tomorrow, Barcelona so tonight I went to a “restaurant” as opposed to a local cafe. Had seafood paella. In case you are wondering , nothing especially out of the ordinary other than it was in Spain and so psychologically should have been out of this world! Finally lobster in Spain is the same as lobster in Adelaide – $100 a serve. Next time!




One thought on “Santiago de Compostela

  1. Great reading.

    Kay is being operated on today at 3 pm. Had text from her yesterday, brought it a week forward by all accounts. Lots of us have chatated with her and most of the time she appeared high, and not in an ecclesiastical sense.

    A few of us have maintained the courage to swim regularly and its bloody cold here.

    Safe onward journey… now guaranteed with angel’s wings.



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