Tag Archives: Padron

Santiago de Compostella and the Way of St James

Sir Walter Raleigh wrote:

Give me my scallop shell of quiet;
My staff of faith to walk upon;
My scrip of joy, immortal diet;
My bottle of salvation;
My gown of glory (hope’s true gage);
And then I’ll take my pilgrimage.

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous region of Galicia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is located in the most northwest region of Spain in the Province of A Coruña and it was the European City of Culture for the year 2000.

I didn’t know this but after Jerusalem and Rome it is the third most holy city in Christendom and the cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th  century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James.  Santiago is such an important pilgrimage destination because it is considered the burial site of the apostle, James the Great and legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where they were buried on the site of what is now the city.

People continue to take the Pilgrim trail and there were many here today who could be identified by the pilgrim staff and the symbol of the scallop shell.   The shell is the traditional symbol of the pilgrimage because the grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, represent the various routes that pilgrims travelled, all eventually arriving at a single destination.  It is also symbolic of the pilgrim because just as the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up on the shores of Galicia, God’s hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

There was certainly no mistaking that this is a very holy city indeed and the route to the Cathedral was lined with churches, monasteries and seminaries and finally we emerged into the central square, the Praza de Obradoiro, where the Cathedral, which is depicted on Spanish eurocent coins, loomed high above in a most spectacular and impressive way.  Inside, the Cathedral is nearly a hundred metres long and over twenty metres high and is the largest Romanesque church in Spain as well as being one of the biggest in Europe.

We walked for a while through the ancient streets and through a quaint little green open space and then our thoughts turned to food so we returned to the city and upon our recommendation, from our previous visit, went to the Restaurante de Buen Pulpo for a tapas lunch.  Disappointingly there were no sardines that we had told everyone about, but we chose instead calamari, clams, Galician cod, tortilla and salad and some Estrella Galicia of course.   The food was reasonably priced and tasted divine and afterwards we left the little restaurant and continued to explore some more of the old city and after a couple of hours I felt confident enough to declare to myself that this one of the nicest places that I have ever visited.

Because of its Celtic roots Galicia doesn’t have sombreros or flamenco or even bull fighting and in a side street adjacent to the cathedral there was a man squeezing the life out of some bagpipes that sounded as though he was castrating an extremely uncooperative cat.  It was excruciatingly painful so we moved on and walked around the streets for a second time.  It is an interesting fact that Galicia has a culture, which is both unique and distinct from the rest of Spain, and the core of this difference is centred upon Galicia’s identity as a Celtic, rather than a Latin or Hispanic sub nation.  Galicia along with Andalusia, Catalonia and the Basque Country are acknowledged as independent historical nationalities under the Spanish Constitution and as a consequence enjoy special rights and privileges.

We made a second circuit of the ancient city and this was when we became of the hypnotic appeal of retail outlets for the girls.  There was a full range of shops from expensive boutiques to cheap market stalls but all of them just drew them in by a sort of invisible tractor beam.  They didn’t need anything or even want anything, they weren’t going to buy anything but they just couldn’t help being sucked in to jewelers or shoe shops just to take a look around.  That is the difference between men and women and shops, women browse and men are purposeful and the two styles are completely irreconcilable.

After a final drink in Santiago de Compostella at a terrace garden bar we returned to the car park and drove with great expectation the twenty kilometres along the Autopista del Atlantico back to Pontescures and the Hotel Corona de Galicia.  Upon arrival it seemed that (surprise, surprise) the bathroom problem had been rectified and we checked into our rooms on the fourth floor.

Excuses, Lies and Double Bookings

There was a brand new motorway all the way from the coast to the town of Padrón (EU money I expect) and while I enjoyed the open road and the drive all of my companions took the opportunity to catch up on lost sleep.  After half an hour we were in Pontescures and we pulled into the car park  of the Hotel Corona de Galicia and presented ourselves at reception.

This was where we stayed in July and I had fully recommended this hotel to the travel club but we were in for a nasty shock.  The owner explained that there was a problem with our rooms and the plumber was on his way but for tonight we would have to stay in alternative accommodation.  This was a pack of lies of course and he was simply double booked but this didn’t concern me because I was sure that alternative accommodation surely meant an upgrade.  How wrong I was!

He drove us to an edge of town truck stop hostel and after promising a complimentary meal as compensation drove away and left us in at the side of the busy highway.  The place was a complete dump and within a few minutes I knew that the Sue and Christine were not very happy.  I thought a beer or two might improve the situation and we found a little restaurant next door but they only went for the orange juice option and I knew that without alcohol this was most unlikely to improve their mood and it was a forlorn hope.  I phoned the original hotel, explained that this was unacceptable and requested something more appropriate to our status.

The restaurant, by the way, was an interesting little place and provided us with a plate of mussels as an appetizer in the hope of tempting us to a full meal later but they were cold and inedible and no one was in the mood anyway so I had to surreptitiously wrap them in tissues under the table and the only place I could find to dispose of them was in the bin in the disabled toilets and then we left.  I really hope that they emptied that bin the next day because believe me it was really going to smell.

We didn’t check out of the place in the conventional way, we sneaked down the stairs, left the keys on the desk and made as quick a getaway as we possibly could.  This was like the great escape and we selected tunnel Enrique, got to the car without detection but then got held up by traffic and the hotel owner came to the door and caught us just as we hit the road and speeded off back to Pontescures and the double booked hotel.

The owner didn’t want us hanging around there too long in case we exposed his faulty plumbing deception and he took us immediately to nearby Padrón and to a much more acceptable hotel with spacious rooms and clean linen and we were all happier about that.

This had spoilt the day a little but we went into town and found a very nice bar with pavement tables where after beer and wine the situation began to improve and we started to see the funny side of things and at least we had a free meal to look forward to tomorrow.

We stayed out longer than we had planned and it was late when we went to bed and we were all so tired that we didn’t really get to appreciate the really nice rooms in the alternative hotel.

A Life in a Year – 28th September, Santiago de Compostella and the Way of St James

Sir Walter Raleigh wrote:

Give me my scallop shell of quiet;
My staff of faith to walk upon;
My scrip of joy, immortal diet;
My bottle of salvation;
My gown of glory (hope’s true gage);
And then I’ll take my pilgrimage.

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous region of Galicia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is located in the most northwest region of Spain in the Province of A Coruña and it was the European City of Culture for the year 2000.  I didn’t know this but after Jerusalem and Rome it is the third most holy city in Christendom and the cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th  century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James.  Santiago is such an important pilgrimage destination because it is considered the burial site of the apostle, James the Great and legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where they were buried on the site of what is now the city.

People continue to take the Pilgrim trail and there were many here today who could be identified by the pilgrim staff and the symbol of the scallop shell.   The shell is the traditional symbol of the pilgrimage because the grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, represent the various routes that pilgrims travelled, all eventually arriving at a single destination.  It is also symbolic of the pilgrim because just as the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up on the shores of Galicia, God’s hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

There was certainly no mistaking that this is a very holy city indeed and the route to the Cathedral was lined with churches, monasteries and seminaries and finally we emerged into the central square, the Praza de Obradoiro, where the Cathedral, which is depicted on Spanish eurocent coins, loomed high above in a most spectacular and impressive way.  Inside, the Cathedral is nearly a hundred metres long and over twenty metres high and is the largest Romanesque church in Spain as well as being one of the biggest in Europe. 

We walked for a while through the ancient streets and through a quaint little green open space and then our thoughts turned to food so we returned to the city and upon our recommendation, from our previous visit, went to the Restaurante de Buen Pulpo for a tapas lunch.  Disappointingly there were no sardines that we had told everyone about, but we chose instead calamari, clams, Galician cod, tortilla and salad and some Estrella Galicia of course.   The food was reasonably priced and tasted divine and afterwards we left the little restaurant and continued to explore some more of the old city and after a couple of hours I felt confident enough to declare to myself that this one of the nicest places that I have ever visited. 

Because of its Celtic roots Galicia doesn’t have sombreros or flamenco or even bull fighting and in a side street adjacent to the cathedral there was a man squeezing the life out of some bagpipes that sounded as though he was castrating an extremely uncooperative cat.  It was excruciatingly painful so we moved on and walked around the streets for a second time.  It is an interesting fact that Galicia has a culture, which is both unique and distinct from the rest of Spain, and the core of this difference is centred upon Galicia’s identity as a Celtic, rather than a Latin or Hispanic sub nation.  Galicia along with Andalusia, Catalonia and the Basque Country are acknowledged as independent historical nationalities under the Spanish Constitution and as a consequence enjoy special rights and privileges.

We made a second circuit of the ancient city and this was when we became of the hypnotic appeal of retail outlets for the girls.  There was a full range of shops from expensive boutiques to cheap market stalls but all of them just drew them in by a sort of invisible tractor beam.  They didn’t need anything or even want anything, they weren’t going to buy anything but they just couldn’t help being sucked in to jewelers or shoe shops just to take a look around.  That is the difference between men and women and shops, women browse and men are purposeful and the two styles are completely irreconcilable.

After a final drink in Santiago de Compostella at a terrace garden bar we returned to the car park and drove with great expectation the twenty kilometres along the Autopista del Atlantico back to Pontescures and the Hotel Corona de Galicia.  Upon arrival it seemed that (surprise, surprise) the bathroom problem had been rectified and we checked into our rooms on the fourth floor.

A Life in a Year – 27th September, Excuses, Lies and Double Bookings

There was a brand new motorway all the way from the coast to the town of Padrón (EU money I expect) and while I enjoyed the open road and the drive all of my companions took the opportunity to catch up on lost sleep.  After half an hour we were in Pontescures and we pulled into the car park  of the Hotel Corona de Galicia and presented ourselves at reception.  This was where we stayed in July and I had fully recommended this hotel to the travel club but we were in for a nasty shock.

The owner explained that there was a problem with our rooms and the plumber was on his way but for tonight we would have to stay in alternative accommodation.  This was a pack of lies of course and he was simply double booked but this didn’t concern me because I was sure that alternative accommodation surely meant an upgrade.  How wrong I was.

He drove us to an edge of town truck stop hostel and after promising a complimentary meal as compensation drove away and left us in at the side of the busy highway.  The place was a complete dump and within a few minutes I knew that the Sue and Christine were not very happy.

I thought a beer or two might improve the situation and we found a little restaurant next door but they only went for the orange juice option and I knew that without alcohol this was most unlikely to improve their mood and it was a forlorn hope.  I phoned the original hotel, explained that this was unacceptable and requested something more appropriate to our status.

The restaurant, by the way, was an interesting little place and provided us with a plate of mussels as an appetizer in the hope of tempting us to a full meal later but they were cold and inedible and no one was in the mood anyway so I had to surreptitiously wrap them in tissues under the table and the only place I could find to dispose of them was in the bin in the disabled toilets and then we left.  I really hope that they emptied that bin the next day because believe me it was really going to smell.

We didn’t check out of the place in the conventional way, we sneaked down the stairs, left the keys on the desk and made as quick a getaway as we possibly could.  This was like the great escape and we selected tunnel Enrique, got to the car without detection but then got held up by traffic and the hotel owner came to the door and caught us just as we hit the road and sped off back to Pontescures and the double booked hotel.

The owner didn’t want us hanging around there too long in case we exposed his faulty plumbing deception and he took us immediately to nearby Padrón and to a much more acceptable hotel with spacious rooms and clean linen and we were all happier about that.

This had spoilt the day a little but we went into town and found a very nice bar with pavement tables where after beer and wine the situation began to improve and we started to see the funny side of things and at least we had a free meal to look forward to tomorrow.  We stayed out longer than we had planned and it was late when we went to bed and we were all so tired that we didn’t really get to appreciate the really nice rooms in the alternative hotel.