Tuesday, February 8, 2011

St. James of the Field of Stars.

This past weekend I had the great fortune of heading to the farthest Northwest corner of Spainland to the city known as Santiago de Compostela.  That region, called Galicia, is distinct from the rest of the country for several reasons:

·      it rains every day and is super cold
·      they eat tons of fish and, especially, octopus
·      they speak two languages primarily: Gallego and Castellano (Castellano is the technical term for proper, correct Spanish)

It was a fantastic weekend that started off a little rough.  Our flight was out of Málaga at 6:15 in the AM.  And for those of you who have been keeping track, I live in Granada.  That’s about two hours away, by bus.  It’s definitely not the most convenient way to fly around the country, but it’s usually the cheapest.  So it’s not uncommon for those living in the surrounding provinces to converge upon Málaga to fly somewhere else.

Anyway, so I caught the last bus from Granada to Málaga with a friend.  We got into town around 11:30 pm and met up with two other people we were traveling with, and then headed to the airport.  Our reasoning for spending the night in the airport was that, because we’d have to get to the airport at 5 am anyway, it would make more sense to get there the night before, take our time, and just chill, then walk the 100 feet to the security desk.  What’s the point of going to a friend’s apartment, arriving after 12, going to sleep around 12:45 or 1, then waking up again at 4 to get dressed, call a cab, then get to the airport? 

Well, the point is that in one of these scenarios, you can sleep for three hours.  In the other....you just sit there waiting sleep or death, whichever comes first, while a baby cries in the background for five hours.

All nighters were never my thing in college, so this is an experience that is somewhat newish to me, still.  I’ve been fortunate.

When the office finally opened to do the check-in, we were the first ones in line, surprise surprise, and it was then that we found out that you absolutely, 100%, do or die, have to have your passport on a RyanAir flight, or else you are screwed.  This wasn’t anything mind blowing, but for my friend I came with from Granada…we had an issue.  After going back and forth with RyanAir, Vueling and Iberia, it eventually came to pass that she couldn’t join the rest of us on our journey to the north of Spain.  It was very sad.

So it was with that weighing heavily on our hearts (plus the lack of sleep) that we headed off on our adventure.

I didn’t actually feel horrible that day, but it sure wasn’t comfortable.  I kind of felt like my head was floating off my shoulders, and a little bit like my stomach wanted to jump out of my body.  However, the three of us kept our spirits high, and even the apocalyptic fog that had settled onto the city couldn’t dampen our spirits.

Until about 1 o’clock that is.  Then we all hit the wall.  Actually, I think we hit the wall around 10 in the morning, but we pushed through for as long as possible.  At that point, the beds in our hostel were ready, so we took a 6-hour siesta.  Más o menos.

We woke up and went to dinner, exploring the city by night.

Santiago is much more medieval than Granada or other cities here in Andalucía I’ve visited.  It makes sense, I suppose.  While the south of Spain was in the grip of North African Musilms for about 700 years, the far north remained relatively European.  Thus the streets of Santiago were grey and twisty, there were Gothic and Romanesque arches everywhere.  It felt much more like the old neighborhoods of little French towns.

We saw pretty much everything we were hoping to the first day, so the second day was for seeing things again if we liked them, and walking around in the sunshine.  And eating an ungodly amount of food.

Weekend well spent.

The Fog.  This is at almost 9 am.  The sun is technically up.
La catedral de Santiago de Compostela.
Cooked octopus on the left...and a salad on the right.  (We didn't go 100% Gallego.)
End of the Camino!

The cathedral by night.

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