Day 49: Santiago de Compostela - Day Two - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 26, 2024

Day 49: Santiago de Compostela - Day Two

 All the passos (processions) in Santiago seem to be scheduled for quite late at night. Last night there was just one on tap, the Procession of Humility, and it was supposed to start at 9:30 p.m..  Best of all, the itinerary included our street, which is in fact quite a famous street.  At 10:00 pm I went to the street to listen for the characteristic "boom, boom, boom", but nothing. I went back to the room, which has a balcony on the street, but grew impatient. So I trekked back along the projected parade route, but still nothing. Returning to the hotel, I set off again, taking a shortcut to almost the start of their route. Up a steep and narrow lane, there was a thin line of people across the way. I thought I had found people waiting for the float, but as I approached, I found the float itself. It was completely stalled out. Who can know about the movement of these things, which even when booting along are swaying from side to side with the footsteps of the poor souls underneath, and edging forward.

As I watched, they seemed to gather resolve, and proceeded to sway gently forward. My wall of people, and others that had been behind the float, all set off following, down the incredibly narrow lane that served as the street. I watched them go, but knew that unless I wanted to invest another couple of hours going their way, I would have to return to the hotel by my shortcut.

I did that, and we went to bed. Sure enough, well after midnight, "boom, boom, boom" beneath our window. It was absolutely freezing, but I went out in my nightie, just long enough to look in the street. I must say, even though we know the penitential marches here have nothing at all to do with the Ku Klux Klan,  seeing a bunch of apparent Klansmen outside your door is a bit unnerving. Having been frozen by the open balcony door, we burrowed under the covers, and in my case with a wireless earbud stuck in one ear.  But when the brass band fired up, it was amazing how good the high fidelity was inside my head!

No sign of the passo down our street.
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Karen PoretThe calm before the “storm”..
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After taking a shortcut to near the start of the parade, success!
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The people followed down the lane.
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No way to go through here, to get home.
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Two hours later, this appeared in front of our door.
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Nobody here but us chickens!
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The Lady is on the home stretch.
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By morning, total tranquility had returned to our street. We ventured out, with a modest set of objectives. First would come the gate in the small bit of remaining medieval wall, and then, of course, the Market.

A bakery popped up in our way to the wall, and look, they had the small versions of tarts we had been looking for when we bought that giant (now mostly all gone) one on the day before yesterday. These tarts sport some of the iconic Camino symbols - the shell, the arrow, and the cross. I have not been able to find if anyone actually owns these trademarks.
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Here is the medieval gate. Through this would have passed Ulla and Ribeira wines, as well as pilgrims from the Camino Plata.
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The market was contained in a series of halls, in dull grey buildings. This was made duller and grayer by the fact of it being a rainy day.

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Some vendors were out in the rain.
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Lots of halls like this
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The focus of this market was on meat, seafood, and cheese, with not so much on baked goods or fruits and vegetables.

They had cheeses with unique shapes.
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A little bit of pizza or empanada.
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And lots of meats:

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Seafood played a prominent role, and as usual we were interested in sea creatures that looked like they could escape, or were otherwise weird to us:

Lots of mussels.
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One of these guys did in fact make it out.
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Ah, real shells, not imported from China for the hiker trade.
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These look colourful, but are they Grampie edible?
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Barnacles? look chewy!
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Flounder?
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I wanted to record again those yellow chickens. All chickens here are this colour! I had to shoot carefully, since many looked quite distressed, with their heads and feet still on.
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Ah strawberries! Is there any chance these will be good?
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I invested my money in just one strawberry.
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Naw, not really any flavour here.
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Karen PoretToo large, Steve!
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesThey are all about this size. Hard to find a "good" one.
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3 weeks ago
Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesWell.. I would send you a photo of strawberry 🍓 from here, but, alas, “my” strawberries aren’t any better ☹️
I think even though the color is appealing and no whitish centers evident, it’s the time amount of warm sun which is necessary to give them their flavor.

Front page of today’s Santa Cruz Sentinel even has a full picture of strawberries being harvested now.. :(

Wait until July.. 😬
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We left the people to it, and headed for the cathedral.
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On the way, here is a view through a hotel's grounds.
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Also on the way, the convent of San Francisco. There are so many convents and monasteries scattered about the town.
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The gray rainy streets have a certain charm.
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The square in front of the cathedral (Praza do Obradoiro)  houses three buildings - city hall, some colleges, and the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos. This latter was established by Isabella and Ferdinand in 1486, to help weary pilgrims. It served this purpose for over four centuries. But since 1986 it was taken over by the Paradores hotel group and became a five star hotel. Dodie needed a nature break, so we went in. Except for the very small lobby, everything was marked clients only.  What we did see did not appear very fancy, but there are no doubt swankier interior bits. It's only about 300 euros per night.

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The Reis Catolicos wanted to send Dodie (with cane) down here to find a washroom. We had better luck in City Hall.
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Clients only, after 400 years.
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Not so fancy, photo through a clients only door.
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Stationed outsode city hall, waiting for Dodie, I could look a bit more closely at the cathedral facade.

This west side entrance is called the Portal de Gloria. It is a big deal, developed in the 12th century by Master Mateo, commissioned by Ferdinand II. It was completed in 1188. We didn't really get to see inside it, since we were told we would have to book a time, about two hours away. It is said that this is the pinnacle of artistic achievement in the cathedral and the greatest work of Spanish Romanesque sculpture.
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On a random corner of the building, yet another pilgrim figure.
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One of the great things about the Obradorio square is the arrival of peregrinos, fresh from the trail. They are so glad to have made it!

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We went into the cathedral museum, which had its entrance on the square. Here we found lots of fragments of carving, maybe freed up by various reconfiguring and redevelopment.

Fragment of a carved arch.
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Dodie cleverly recognized the statue below as a carving of King David, who was known for playing the harp. I had already snapped this photo, and was recording the sign describing the carving, when a security guard jumped me with a don't photo that. These no photo policies make me wild! If I am allowed to take in the reflected light from an object into my brain (i.e. look at it) then what is the difference if the same light hits a photo sensor in my camera? The difference is that with the camera, the image can turn into millions of post cards, liquor ads, or who knows what, and presumably different from if I painted the image from the memory they did allow me. So realistically, do they think this gormless tourist with a point and shoot camera is going to steal their image and turn it into revenue? Oh wait, I've got it, they don't want low quality images of their treasure floating about the internet!  Ok, here is mine:!

Let's float this low quality image somewhere.
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Here is their high quality image on a poster.
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Karen PoretYours is the winner, Steve!
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretMuchas gracias, Amiga.
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A film was playing, I think about carving in the Portico of Glory. I grabbed this image from it. Ha ha.
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Dodie had noticed the coloured columns in the main cathedral, yesterday. Today I thought I would get a shot of them. I took this one, before being thrown out. I am not sure if this was because the guard thought the noon mass had begun (which it hadn't) or if photos are prohibited generally.

Coloured columns.
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When you are thrown out, or otherwise leave a mass, you are cleverly routed through the gift shop.  We noted the book by Shirley MacLaine about the Camino, but we have yet to see what her take on it was, plus other books about the experience.

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We could learn a lot from books like this.
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Karen PoretIn which language, though? ;)
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretEnglish, or if pushed, French.
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3 weeks ago
But as always the child's guide is at our speed, or is a little much for us.
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During the time that we were noodling around the  Portal of Glory, we were getting it confused with the Holy Door. Easy mistake to make?  No admission fee or wait time can get you in the Holy Door (also known as the Door of Forgiveness) until a Holy Year, which is a year in which the 25th of July falls on a Sunday. The next one is 2027. In such a year, within 15 days of the 25th, I think, if you pass through the door you may receive a "plenary indulgence".  Indulgences are a complicated topic in Roman Catholicism. There is a system of punishment for various sins and a system of getting out of this, by various good acts, or controversially, payments. It's really complicated, especially what you have to do to get back in the good graces. The good graces generated by indulgences come from the "treasury of merit" built up by Jesus for his performance on the cross. I am not making this up (but somebody did!).  Anyway, a plenary indulgence can be a big deal, I guess, if you have a big backlog of sin.

The Holy Door - no way in just now.
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Our final visit for the day was to the Museum of Pilgrimages. This was an airy and well laid out place, that explained itself rather well. It began with the description of who James was, and his role in Iberia. It went on to discuss the discovery of his remains, the way these spawned a pilgrimage, and the political uses of the pilgrimage. It went on to show lots of St James statues, other artifacts (like chalices etc.), to describe the various pilgrimage routes, and many other things. 

Something not particularly covered were aspects of the pilgrimage in more modern times. I would have been interested in the number and origin breakdown of the pilgrims over time, the economic significance of the pilgrimage today, any trademark issues surrounding the eight or so iconic symbols of the pilgrimage, pilgrims broken down by age, by religious motivation or not, and so on.

An open and well laid out space.
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Lots of miscellaneous statues
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St James is often depicted on a white charger.
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A nice piece of pottery - not sure of the age.
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A sort of "ice tongs" used in building cathedrals.
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In one more modern bit, the pandemic caused a shutdown of transit across districts, hindering the pilgrimage. This backpack was relayed along and handed over borders, in a gesture to keep the pilgrimage alive.
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There was a Camino photo display by Manuel Vincente, something that captured aspects of the modern pilgrimage. Here are just a few images from that display:

From 2015
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O Cebreiro 2008. We found it chilly, but not this chilly!
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Similar to what we saw in the Square today.
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Breaking news: we learned that our bikes and box of gear are already in Irun! But wait, we also got a message from Correos that they are going to be closed Thursday and Friday, so what do we want them to do with our stuff - they suddenly ask. We have dispatched Dodie to Correos here, to get them to talk to our hotel in Irun , and see if that hotel feels like storing three giant boxes for three days!

Thrilling conclusion (for now): When Dodie walked into Correos, they jumped up and down and exclaimed "Oh good, it's you! We were freaking out because we realized that while we are open Thursday and Friday, Irun and the rest of Correos Spain is closed." Dodie got them to phone the Irun hotel and it appears to be fixed - Irun Correos will bring the bikes to the hotel tomorrow, and the hotel will store them. If it happens, we will be in good shape, with the ability to assemble the bikes at the hotel rather than at Correos, while also unpacking our box of gear at Correos and/or trying to get all that to the hotel.

One other small thing - Correos here asked that I call them so they could have my phone number. But my Lyca Mobile UK refused the call. They may think we have been calling Joni in Canada too much. So I used Paypal to top up Lyca. But Paypal wants to send a secret code to Canada, to authorize the payment. We saw that coming, and have our Rogers Mobile Canadian phone with us. But when we so much as turn that on, Rogers in Canada goes berserk with messages about how much they anticipate charging for our having done that. Now I have to use Lyca mobile data  to check on Rogers to see if they are doing any crazy billings!  So much for the simplicity of the ancient pilgrimage.

Today's ride: 7 km (4 miles)
Total: 2,349 km (1,459 miles)

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Karen PoretTalk “ain’t” cheap …
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