Portuguese Camino: Day 20 – Final Memories of Santiago

Today is the last day in Santiago. Tomorrow. It is back to Porto Portugal by bus and the plane to the U.S. Monday morning at 6 AM. The weather finally broke with partly cloudy skies, but it was,still windy and chilly.

The hidden highlight of the day was stumbling into a Steve McCurry photographic exhibit at the Pilgrims museum. My friend Bill Bennett, who put us all together for this Camino, introduced me to the works of,this world famous photographer last year. I have been following McCurry’s blog ever since. Bill was so disappointed to have missed it. I had no idea the exhibit was at the museum till I went to. The museum.

The curator of the museum wanted to know I had seen McCurry’s iconic and famous photographs of an Afgan girl, and then some 20 or so years later as a woman. I replied I had not, and about 20 minutes later he found me on another floor and brought the photocopy of the two pictures depicted above. How nice. The people here are very generous and friendly. A few of the prints from the exhibit are depicted below.

 

 

 

Photos of passing peregrinos or perhaps locals as well showing such diversity. All from one place near the cathedral. All were taken from this relaxed spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a few pics of the feathered and furry locals.

 

 

 

Reluctance.

Adios from last,day in Santiago.

 

Portuguese Canino: Day 19 – Ugh

The coldest, wettest and windiest day yet.

It has been an interesting time, but the weather is miserable here. Be glad to leave. Can't believe we had two weeks without a drop of rain when we walked. Wow, am I grateful for that. Last year I walked in this miserable weather being cold and wet most of the time. Ugh.

So miserable even the dogs wear raincoats.

 

I thought if I would stop and smell the flowers it would help. It didn't.

 

Portuguese Camino: Day 18 – A Bit of History

Today I visited the cathedral museum. While photographs were not allowed I saw many chambers of the cathedral and many relics and works of centuries old art and tapestries. It was all magnificent, and you could sense the centuries.

According to tradition, a hermit called Palo discovered the Apostle James tomb in the year 814 in the forest of what is now Santiago de Compostela, in the Galacian region of Spain. King Alfonso II ordered a small church to be built alongside a Roman temple nearby. As the news spread across Europe, numerous believers set out on a pilgrimage to visit the relics, as the popularity grew, King Alfonso III built a larger church which was consecrated in 899, and a settlement arose around the church giving rise to the present day city.

In 997, invaders raised the church and stole,the bells and other relics to be placed in a mosk. Bishop Pedro de Mezonzo escaped and returned with the bells and rebuilt the church. As the tomb's fame continued to spread the new church was too small to hold all the pilgrims that made their way and in 1075 construction began on a new basicilica that exists today. In 1211, the cathedral was finally consecrated. In the following centuries numerous alterations and additions have been made and by the mid 18th century the present day cathedral had taken shape.

In the last Holy Year, 2010 (when St. James's birthday falls on Sunday) 273 pilgrims arrived at the Carhedral from all over the world. They arrived by foot, bicycle, or horseback, but most by foot. I am sure the number was much higher because to be one of the recorded number a pilgrim has to cover the last 100 kilometers into Santiago, and for various reasons, many do not.

An overview model of the cathedral,and the town.

Most of the wall no longer exists, and only one of the seven entrances still stands.

Various photos of the day that were not inside the museum.

The farmers market that is held twice a week.

 

 

 

Portuguese Camino: Day 17 – Street Entertainers

Santiago is full of street performers of one kind or the other, not to mention just outright beggars. On the surface it appears to be a hard way to make a living, but pilgrims can be a generous lot after walking into Santiago, so maybe not. At any rate, I thought you might like to see a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps these two guys will be street entertainers in a few months.

 

Portuguese Camino: Day 16 – Saying Adios

Well, the group has dispersed to all parts of the globe. Ken and Angie and Peter and Julie are headed to Madrid for a few days and then back to Australia. Greg and Donna spending a day in Paris, then three in either Singapore or Hong Kong. Bill and Jennifer head to. Ireland for a week tomorrow. Marie to France on Wednesday. Catarina went home to Portugal yesterday and returned the van today. Arlene and I are not booked back to the states for a week. She is interested in looking for a place along the Camino to buy so she may dedicate some of,the week to that quest. Not sure what I will be doing. Taking in more,of Santiago, I guess. It is raining on and off all week and I would change my ticket but it is ridiculously expensive.

It was really wonderful time and all the people were great to get to know and easy to get along with. I think we all made lifelong friends. Last dinner tonight with Bill, Jennifer, Arlene, and Cathy and Tim, a couple from Virginia that we kept bumping into along the way. It's funny in walking a Camino how you keep bumping into the same people that you start with. You may not see them for a day or,two, but then there they are again. Friendships form. It is all part of the Camino experience. It is truly an international experience.

Lots of folks talk about being bitten by the Camino bug that draws,them back time and time again. I think everyone in our group is planning another except me. I am still digesting what I might have gotten from this experience and even the last one, and I am sure it had some effect on me, but not sure it had any life changing effect. I am pretty sure I will not do another, but who knows. I do not get a natural high from walking long distances and most of,the group appears to,do,so. I get tired feet, though I have to say my feet, and indeed my entire body held up quite well. No after pains whatsoever. I feel blessed.

Took a few,pictures in the cathedral today and more tomorrow in the cathedral and some of the interesting sights and museums in Santiago. I will become a turistico instead of a peregrino.

This is the Tree of Jesse which was fashioned in the 12 th century. Bible characters come alive in the carved marble column. The central column has Christ flanked by the apostles and directly underneath, St. James, as intercessor between Christ and the pilgrims who have been coming since the 9th century. As you can see some aspect of the cathedral is constantly under repair or reconstruction.

For centuries pilgrims have come to the marble column and placed their hand on the column as a mark of gratitude for,a,safe,journey. The millions of handprints over time wore deep marks in the column and in 2007, the officials placed a barrier around the column,to,prevent further erosion. Note the finger holes in the picture below.