29 May 2014
A lie-in was not on the cards for me this morning. I am wired to wake before 6 am, even if I have nowhere urgent to go. It was raining – hard. I have been so lucky on this trip with the weather. I had a few soakings, but never left in the morning to heavy rain. I felt sorry for the pilgrims continuing their journey today to Finisterre and/or Muxia. Ella and I walked this section in pouring rain last year and it almost ruined Ella’s whole camino experience.
I hung around at the albergue for a while, attempting to upload my video of the botafumeiro swing to youtube, but it took forever and I gave up at about 50%. I left my backpack in the luggage store and took my poles to the post office to send them home. But unfortunately the post office was closed because it is a national holiday today. I shall just have to hope that I can smuggle them through ryanair’s boarding gate police. The poles were in my pack on the way from Málaga to Lisbon so they obviously didn’t contravene the airport security code, so as long as they are well tucked away in my pack I don’t see a problem arising. The annoying thing is that I was at the post office yesterday to send my penknife home and didn’t think about my poles.
I then went to a posh cafe for a breakfast hot chocolate (that was mediocre and very expensive) and a bacon bocadillo (that was damn poor and extremely expensive – more than twice what I had paid for an excellent roll stuffed full of bacon and a hot drink in cafés along the way – oh well, that’s city life for you!)
As I was sitting in the cafe I heard and then saw the military band and parade pass by so I left the poor food on the plate and rushed out to admire my boys. They were lined up in Obradoiro square when I caught up with them all standing in the pouring rain awaiting presentation of their medals for taking part in yesterday’s exercise. I felt ridiculously proud of them and stood with them in the rain for quite a while, before making my way to the cathedral to await the pilgrims’ mass.
I arrived well before 11 am but already there were no seats available so found the base of a column to sit on – rather cold, and I can just hear my mother telling me I would get piles from sitting on a cold surface. I wonder if there is any truth in that old wife’s tale?
I am writing this as I sit on the column and can see that the soldiers have started to arrive and are sitting in the opposite transept.
As a non religious person, I was surprised to be so very moved by the pilgrims’ mass that I attended last year, and hope for the same experience today. There may even be another botafumeiro swing, being that it is a religious holiday and the military are in town. I saw three swings in my time in Santiago last year and would consider myself extremely lucky to see another one on this visit.
I haven’t taken any city photos of this visit to Santiago because, quite frankly, it is miserable weather and no photos would do the city justice. But if you would like to share my love affair with the city from last year, please click on the following links to see it at its sunniest best.
I am so glad that I have seen Santiago in all its glory, so that I don’t feel cheated on this visit. Apart from the rain, the total facade of the main cathedral entrance is completely covered in scaffolding for maintenance work and in the beautiful enormous square at the back of the cathedral a huge tent is set up for a pop concert that was taking place last night, pretty much outside my bedroom window!
I did snap a couple of shots from the dormitory window last night. One of the cathedral clock tower with a big wheel in the distance where I guess there is a funfair in the park. Later on the wheel was lit up and I took a few more shots from the window.
The pilgrims’ mass was beautiful again. There was a choir singing instead of the nun, although she was there to conduct proceedings. The choir was enchanting and there was a reading by one of the soldiers. At the end of the service everyone turned to their neighbours to shake hands and wish them peace – such a lovely thing to do, and then those that wanted went to the altar for wafers. And then, to my delight, there was another botafumeiro swing. I was sitting quite close to the altar in the direction of the swing and once again had a wonderful view of proceedings. I just took a few pics at the beginning so that I could give my full concentration to the spectacle.
After the service I went back to the albergue to collect my pack and made my way to the airport for my 3:50 pm flight. I am currently sitting in a window seat on a jam-packed flight with two spare seats beside me. Ryanair are now allocating seats and I can only presume that there were only three seats available when I booked my flight a couple of days ago, and the other two remained unsold. And the walking poles made it through without question. I am making the most of my run of good luck whilst it lasts.