Sunday, 1 August 2010

Camino Odyssey 2

As far as I can see, there is no way to avoid the fact that I am going backward in time. Not literally, alas; I am not Merlin. But in order to continue this retrospective on my Camino journey, I have to take you back to July, the 12th to be exact. A misty Monday in Santiago de Compostela.

I had a lot to do and first headed to the university library where Almudena very kindly offered to make a list of books about Diego Gelmirez for me. Next I made my way to the Palacio de Diego Gelmirez next to the cathedral for the rooftop tour.

While this is advertised as a tour of the bishop's palace, in fact, as a tourist you get to see very little of it. I have seen a little bit more than I was supposed to, but that's another story. Anyway, the biggest surprise of all is that after climbing the stone stairs up from the formal dining hall, you suddenly find yourself looking down on the nave of the cathedral. The first time I did this I actually burst into tears! Then, if that is not enough, the small group is taken up onto the roof of the cathedral for a bit of a walkabout. It's magic (and only 8 euros for pilgrims). The guided tour is in English and Spanish and lasts about an hour. The hard part for me is not butting into the commentary!

Perhaps it is only a few times in a person's lifetime where he or she can say "here is my home". I felt that way about Cornwall in my teens; I felt that way about Granada the minute I arrived there 14 years ago. And I feel that way about Santiago. I find myself happily taking shortcuts around the city and I probably walk a full day's etapa doing just that, but somehow or another, I feel that this is where I fit in: where the cathedral is the centrepiece of it all, the Obradoira a handy place to meet up with friends, where I am recognised and welcomed in Casa Manolo, Hostal Alameda and the Bar Suso. Where museum staff and tour guides are happy to see me and librarians are delighted to help me with my research.

I live in an enviable part of the world. In Marbella, we get upwards of 325 days of sunshine a year. But do you know what? I'd trade it for the nmists and rain of Galicia any time.

Maybe one day I will...

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