Even if you don’t quite swallow the myths about how Santiago de Compostela was founded, with the body of the Apostle being taken by boat to Galicia in a “miraculous” seven days after his beheading in the Holy Land, then his grave being located at several politically very convenient points in history for the church, in a city founded on a whim because the stars happened to single out one particular field, it’s one heck of a place. The constant stream of pilgrims flooding to the impressive cathedral, with the city being filled with many other astonishingly beautiful old churches, convents, monasteries and squares – any one of which would alone make any other town worth visiting.
After arriving, our moods were quickly lifted by a walk in to the centre, and a first meander to orientate ourselves.
The following day, we started off by running a few errands around the town – the fridge in the van was failing to cool effectively on gas, and we weren’t even sure how much gas we’d got in the tank. Our van’s got a fixed gas tank, rather than using bottles, so we needed to find an LPG pump. The big advantages of doing it that way are compactness, capacity, and cost – the drawback in a country with very few LPG pumps is a hunt to find somewhere to fill it… Santiago had a pump, though, which we eventually found. Two thirds of a tank – for €8.50. Not bad for a month’s worth of cooking, heating water, and an extended period when we didn’t realise the fridge had failed to turn the gas off, burning it at the same time as actually chilling by electricity.
So off to the other errand, find a fridge-fixer. Santiago has exactly one caravan dealer. Who, it turned out, when we located them on the diagonally opposite outskirts to the LPG pump, only opened in the afternoon. And afternoon here begins at 3pm… After killing a few more hours, we returned. No, they don’t do repairs. Just sales. Their other site, in Vigo, on the other hand…
Back to the site, drop the van off at the pitch, then the bus in to town again. A bit more of a wander turned into a tapas crawl with the hectic and atmospheric El Gato Negro our favourite bar of the night followed by alcoholic hot chocolates at Megate, and a missed last bus back.
Finally, a full day in the old town. Cathedral. Cathedral museum. Pilgrimage museum. Exhibition of the history of the cathedral. Plaza. Park. Plaza. Back street. Alley. Plaza. Church. We just wandered, stared, touristed, enjoyed. Then we ate, drank, and enjoyed some more.
Pulpo – octopus. Chocos en su tinta – tiny squid in their ink. Berberechas – cockles. Sobrasada – soft, red sausage. Delicious. Not a single “Hmm, maybe we won’t bother with that again” dish.
But the one thing Santiago isn’t blessed with is great weather although it had improved a bit while we were there. It was time to leave.