Saturday, November 3, 2012

From the Top of the Cathedral to the End of the World.

We have now been in the Galicia region for almost 2 weeks. Our first few days were a bit wet, but things have slowly improved and a few lunches in the sun have been possible. Our campsite in Santiago is OK, not glamorous but adequate, and the showers are really hot which is very welcome as the weather continues to get colder.

The region is mixed, some parts lovely, some bits not so. Many of the smaller towns, particularly the coastal regions, are quite dreary, bordering on ugly. We think that the failed Spanish architectural students are sent here to practice.
Carpaccio of Octopus in Santaigo market - delicious

Having said that, Santiago itself has some outstanding buildings, not least of which is the Cathedral, the ultimate goal of all those years of pilgrimage. Santiago (aka the Apostle St James) allegedly arrived here in a stone boat (stone being well known for its buoyancy) and his bones are buried under the now Cathedral.
The Cathedral with baroque facade

The ‘new’ facade of the cathedral is ‘over the top’ Baroque built in the 17th century by a Canon who didn’t quite like the original 12th century Romanesque front porch (which is quite lovely and can be seen on the tour).

The Roof Top Tour of the cathedral was the highlight of our stay here. We literally walked onto the roof of the cathedral. I, being a sook afraid of heights and having a dodgy ankle, pathetically clung onto Lawrence’s arm the whole time, but was awestruck by this building from on top. The roof is built from granite slabs, stepped to make the roofline. This explains why there are so few windows; solid walls were required to keep the thing up.
Standing on the roof of the Cathedral - being brave.

We did the museum as well, so literally saw the cathedral from top to bottom (including the crypt), inside and out. We poked in all corners of the building, saw secret doors, 1st floor cloisters, balconies, the entombed remains of St James and listened to a nun singing the beginning of mass. She should have been on the stage, so lovely was her voice. The altar piece was the typically baroque “I can do more gold carving than you can” style.

We went to the end of the earth – Finisterre, actually the most western point of Spain and cruised around a lot of coast. Spent a few hours in A Coruña, a large concrete city famous for being the spiritual home of the fashion chain Zara, but little else to recommend it.
Some lovely coast to be seen
Lunch in A Coruna

We drove back to Lugo in our little Seat (a car, not a chair), having failed to see inside the Roman walls the first time around. The walls are quite amazing in their completeness, but the city inside is a bit dull with a lot of new building. Still, we did get to do Spanish Lunch in the sun, in a lovely square complete with an orchestra playing show tunes in the bandstand, and an Australian couple sitting next to us, watching the old ladies parading their wonderful coiffures.
Walls of Lugo

We visited a wonderful winery on the Rias Baixas region. The region grows mainly Albariño, which has become very fashionable in Spain and the UK, with prices to match. We spent a wonderful 2 hours at Paco & Lola, a new kid on the block winery with wonderful wine and brilliant marketing and merchandising.  We met with the export manager and talked about our aim to import Spanish wine to Australia. As a gift, we walked away with 6 bottles of their brilliant wine, definitely a visit to remember.
Albarino with lunch after Paco&Lola

Next stop Portugal (and all those weird grape varieties).

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