Thursday, 14 June 2012

If you're going to Santiago (be sure to wear a scallop in your hair)

800 years this year - the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The country might be teetering on the edge of insolvency, but at least Spain seems to have a good infrastructure to show for all the lost dinero. The train we took from Vilagarcia to Santiago de Compostela was modern, clean, punctual and reasonably priced. Santiago itself was a delight.

It's a bustling and prosperous-looking city and of course a major pilgrimage destination since the tomb of St James the Apostle was located there in mediaeval times. There are still plenty of pilgrims about, concentrated in the historic centre and clustered around the cathedral, which marks its 800th anniversary this year.

These pilgrims wouldn't have looked out of place centuries ago.
The atmosphere was quite stirring, with a steady stream of arrivals, many of whom had walked or cycled 800 km along the Camino de Santiago. We had a bit of luck in entering the cathedral just in time for the swinging of one of the world's largest censers - La Alcachofa - a spectacular display before a packed cathedral.

Incensed - La Alcachofa in action.
A splendid organ too.
Unfortunates suffering in Purgatory.
Santiago boasts many other fine churches, museums, libraries and is a university town as well. We had been strongly recommended to visit the Museo do Pobo Galego (the museum of the Gallician people) and very worthwhile it was. Our friends the Kodiaks were particularly impressed by the triple helical staircase, telling us to go if only to see that.

Nice staircase(s). They don't all lead to the same places either.
The weather took a turn for the worse after our day in Santiago and we've been dodging from anchorage to anchorage with some fairly wild sailing in between. We also took our leave of the Ria de Arousa and thrashed around to Muros, beating into a heavy swell and weaving around the many inconveniently positioned clusters of rocks along the way.

Muros, from one of the surrounding hills.
Ria Muros is less built up and more rugged than the rias to the south and we've been taking advantage of the excellent hill walking opportunities. Despite the tourist office's assertions that 'Muros deserves to be gone round' and 'nobody can leave Muros without forgetting having stayed in a region full of artistic and cultural heritage, nature and sea', we would recommend it to anyone.

Heading ashore, aided by our trusty umbrella (Photo: A. Scott).
Rock hopping with the Kodiaks (photo: A. Scott).

Cute cottages there are in plenty. 
Hunting for the elusive Neolithic petroglyphs.
Found at last, no thanks to whoever tore down the signposts!
This place has it all. Gorgeous beach at San Francisco.

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