Tuesday, 15 August 2017
Santiago de Compostela
I turned twenty-three while I was living in Vigo. My friend Daojun and I decided to celebrate with a trip to Santiago de Compostela, somewhere I had hoped for years to visit. I was very happy.
We would get a bus there and a train back, as that seemed to be most convenient. I had taken long-distance buses in Spain before and they had been comfortable and efficient.
I arrived at Vigo Bus Station for the first time. It was big, with various little shops. I bought a pizza-type pastry from a bakery to eat while we were waiting.
The bus arrived, we boarded, and I left Vigo for the first time since arriving in January. The estuary, hills, fields and gardens flashed by. It was a pleasant journey.
As we arrived in Santiago the sky was darkening and soon it began to rain. We made our way up into the old town and asked for directions for the Cathedral. The rain turned to hail. We were freezing cold and could barely see ahead of us. It wasn't the easiest walk, but it was memorable!
We arrived at the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario. The weather had improved, and the sky was blue for a while.
Next came the moment I had been waiting for - we entered the Cathedral.
The Cathedral surprised me. I had expected it to be grandiose, and in some ways it was. However, my overall impression was of a simple, open space, where I felt very comfortable.
There were quite a few people there when I thought to look, but I generally felt as if I were in my own world. Daojun lead the way around the building and I followed, taking plenty of photos and gazing in awe at my surroundings.
My Dad had mentioned Santiago's famous Botafumeiro, one of the biggest incense burners in the world. It was amazing and surreal to actually see it.
We had a look in the gift shop and I bought some presents and souvenirs. We headed outside, to be greeted by a fresh bout of rain. However, a colourful umbrella lit up the grey scene.
We wandered on through the old town.
We sheltered for a while in a bar, where I enjoyed a toastie and Daojun tried the traditional empanada (a savoury pie). Our meals were accompanied by freshly-squeezed orange juice, which was lovely.
Back outside, we continued to explore. Santiago has a distinctive feel to it - cosy and old and dignified.
Daojun had a question to ask at the Galician Tourist Office, so we stopped in there. I picked up some leaflets about activities to do around the region. Galicia is diverse and exciting and I was keen to see as much of it as I could whilst I was based in Vigo.
The time came to make our way to the railway station to catch our train back to Vigo.
The train was nice and quiet. We got off at Vigo-Urzáiz. I was used to the other main city station, Vigo-Guixar, but we soon found our way back to the centre.
There, we indulged in some ice-creams from Five Monkeys Coffee. Eating ice-cream is a birthday tradition for me, and it was good to share that with Daojun.
I had enjoyed a unique and fun birthday. It was great to be able to spend the day with a friend and to get to know a new city.
Thanks for reading!