May 29 Santiago

Today is our last day in Santiago de Compostela.  It’s a sad day, but it will also be very nice to be back in the States.  Today, Quint and I spent a lot of time packing, and we also went down to a flower shop owned by one of her friends to buy her some flowers to thank her for her hospitality.  We gave them to her as we left, and I think it got her a little emotional.  She invited both of us to come visit if we were ever in Spain again (which I will be, next year!) which is just about the nicest thing ever.  It’s also been an absolute pleasure to have been on the trip with such a great group of fellow students, and I’m sure I’ll see many of you all again.  I hadn’t imagined that the relationships formed on the Camino and here in Santiago would be as much fun or as strong as they have, and I’m delighted.  In honor of our return home, I thought that it would be fun to make a couple of superlative lists:

Top 5 things I have missed about the USA:
1. Hearty American breakfasts
2. Spicy food
3. Grass within the city limits
4. Swimming pools
5. American folk music
 
Top 5 things I will miss about Spain
1. 1€ jarras at Cien Montaditos (the Scheetz of Spain)
2. The sheer excitement of being in a foreign country
3. The sense of history and grandeur
4. Café con leche
5. Tapas (now all of my drinks in America will feel so underwhelming)
 
Top 5 things I have learned while in Spain:
1. Spaniards will absolutely, without hesitating, try to run you over in the street with their cars. (At least in Santiago- this may also be the case in American cities- I don’t know).
2. It pays to have a leisurely dinner at a Spanish restaurant- this will lead to you getting to know the owners/staff, and may result in free drinks, tapas, or chupitos. 
3. Feigning ignorance of the English language is the best way to learn Spanish, and feigning ignorance of the Spanish language is absolutely hilarious.
4. Young people in Spain party hard.  Extremely hard.  You would be a fool to try to keep pace.
5.  Spaniards are, with a few exceptions, a wonderfully nice people. Italians… did not tend to be as rewarding to get to know. 
 
Top 5 reasons I’m glad I went on this May Term:
1. My Spanish is much improved, and the opportunities to practice were many and helpful.
2. I have a greater confidence about living more or less alone in Spain next year.
3. I’m so grateful to have been introduced to the Camino de Santiago, which I feel will be a journey I will take all of my life. 
4. It was awesome to be able to get to know awesome people who I never really had the opportunity fully appreciate back in the normal rhythms of Roanoke College: Laura, Eli, Marcel, Cooper, Quint, Kayla, Iris…
5. Seeing Dr. Talbot meowing at a cat while walking the Camino. You’re the best professor ever! But really, I’ve learned so much from you. Thank you.
 

¡Saludos from Spain! Can’t wait to see my family and pretty girlfriend again.

-Ted

 

Today is our last day here in Santiago de Compostela. Today (and Thursday) it’s a train to Madrid and a flight back to Roanoke. It’s a sad thought, but it’s also a beautiful one.

It’s a sad thought because I hate to think that I have to leave this incredible place they call Galicia (the region in Spain where we’ve been since day one). Sad because there’s so much more I want to do here in Santiago (and Spain in general). Sad because I don’t want to say goodbye to Alberto, Jose, Diego, Mel, and all my other waiters/friends I’ve made here. Sad because I know that reality is about to wallop me upside the head in about 48 hours.

Nonetheless, there’s a silver lining to the sadness that restores beauty to the sadness. It’s a beautiful thought for two reasons. First, because I know that I am taking with me parts of Spain that have become parts of myself. The second reason is similar. I know that I’m also leaving parts of myself here in Spain. By leaving some of these behind, I will (hopefully) enrich others’ lives and make a positive impact on them. By leaving others behind, I am enriching my own life and making progress toward a better “Joshua.”

What more could I ask for?

“The Camino never ends.”

-Joshua

Hi everyone! Today is our last day in Santiago, which is pretty bittersweet I think for most of us. It was also our last day of class, which although we’ve enjoyed learning.. I’m fairly confident most of us are ready for a break (and some sleep).  Most of today, at least for Kayla and I, has been spent packing and getting some last minute gifts for everyone.  We took the night train from Santiago to Madrid, where we are in rooms with bunk beds, and as Lynn said…they were, actually, designed for midgets.  For me, personally, it has honestly been since I was little and with my grandfather that I was last on a train, so it definitely made me think of him.  In further news, though, I thought I would give a summary of the things that I learned while I was on this trip:

1) Relax. It’s so easy to get caught up into the hustle-and-bustle of our every-day lives (especially for me…) that we forget to appreciate the little things or take a moment just for ourselves.  Do whatever you need to do, whether that’s find a quiet spot to meditate or take 30 minutes just to watch your favorite TV show.  Write it out.  Do something, because although work is important, so is your sanity.

2) Keep an open mind. Just because a person or a culture is different than yours doesn’t make it of any less value than your own.  Even though it was easy to fuss about five minute showers due to Spain’s outrageous energy prices or how freezing the apartment was, there’s still so much you can take from another person’s viewpoint and lifestyle.  Also, listening to the stories of fellow pilgrims was amazing…we met pilgrims from Britain, France, Germany, Greece…all different perspectives, and it was amazing to see beyond the world I had always known, simply through experience.

3) Ultreia. It means onward, forward, and ahead.  You keep moving forward, because life keeps moving forward.  It doesn’t matter what’s happened in your past.  Your past can affect who you are, but you control who you are going to become.  Embrace all of life’s challenges, whether it’s hiking 120 km to Santiago, speaking a completely different language in a foreign country, or even having patience towards the things that may be driving you crazy at the time.  Impossible is nothing, as a fellow Greek pilgrim said to me one night (which, creepily, is one of my favorite quotes).

Although I don’t want to leave Spain, I can’t wait to see everyone when I get home.  Dad, you BETTER be on time to the airport! I’ll see you soon!!!!

-Marguerite

May 28 Santiago

We have been busy throughout our time in Spain. From attending class, to visiting museums, venturing to other towns and trying new foods, it has been quite the adventure! This trip has taken me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to encounter many new opportunities. I have gained a great deal of knowledge regarding the culture of Spain, as well as life in general. Here are a few things I have discovered about the culture:

  • Pan (bread) is vital for survival. You can find it anywhere and it is eaten at any time of day. Do you want a sandwich or just a snack? The answer is pan. After you finish your food wipe that plate clean using your pan!
  • Cafe (coffee) is amazing in Spain. Starbucks, Mill Mountain, any other coffee shop cannot even touch the level of joy found in these cups of cafe con leche.
  • Breakfast is not necessary. Be ready to eat your weight in food at lunch. Dinner may or may not occur, but if it does, do not expect it before 10pm.
  • Walking around with a blonde girl (Scarlett) causes us to get many looks of confusion and fascination. In fact, at our house, she is referred to as rubia (blonde) rather than her actual name.
  • Cars…Who needs them? But you better watch out because they do not slow down or stop for anything.
  • Europe is made for small people. Doors, beds, shower heads, tables, chairs, etc are the perfect size for those of us with less vertical existence.
  • No one is on time, but you better be.
  • Doorknobs are often found in the middle of doors….decorative rather than useful.
  • Street name signs are not important. Walking through the city is not a daily routine but rather an adventure. “Lost? No! I am just taking the scenic route.”
  • When in doubt, act like you know what you are doing. Eventually someone will correct you if you are wrong. Either that or they will laugh and talk about you, assuming you cannot understand them. Although, then it is fun to kindly let them know that you do indeed understand.                                                                     These are just a few of the fun lessons I have learned while in Spain. Overall, I have learned much more about the culture and history of Spain, as well as gained new perspective on life. I will certainly be returning home with a new mindset and a bit of confusion regarding my previous daily customs.

- Emily

Today we had class in the morning, then most everybody went to work on their procrastinated school assignments including site journals, blog posts, and papers.  It was a relatively pleasant day in paradise, the majority of which for Julia, Quint, and me was spent in a café writing, (or pretending to write if you were Julia), socializing, and dancing/singing to an assortment of Spanish and American music videos.  A copious amount of café con leche was consumed (as usual), and it was a good, traditional Spanish way to spend one of our last afternoons in Spain.  Also, we went through a lot of the pictures we had taken throughout the trip and reminisced on our experiences together.  Additionally today, I enjoyed a traditional Spanish meal for lunch which included scrumptious pasta in homemade salsa with the most tender ribs in the world.  After I inhaled it in a blink of an eye, my homestay mother presented flan sent from heaven.  It was quite possibly the most magical substance on earth, or at least it was until I ate it in less than ten seconds.  Afterwards I had no choice but to embrace Spain´s customs and take a nice siesta before my body completely shut down from too much delicoius food.  Although we all enjoy the site visits extensively, it was nice to have a free day after class to relax and take in the Spanish culture one last time before we head back home.

-Cooper

May 27 Santiago

So today was a chill day. We had class in the morning as normal and then returned to ourhomestays for lunch. Many of us worked on our assignment which is due tonight. For the afternoon activity we watched American TV series dubbed in Spainsh. It was hilarious listening to the “Spanish” voices of characters that we are so accustomed to seeing and hearing.

We “bocadillared” for dinner (had sandwiches) and had great conversations about life and religion. I found it amazing that we were able to discuss religion without persecuting one another. It was one of the most respectful but intellectually stimulating conversations I have ever had. We discussed our reactions to the cathedral and the mass and compared them with what we have experienced in the United States.

I really feel like I have grown so much on this trip. The culture in Spain is quite different than what we are used to at home. The people can be friendly but they interact differently than we do. Many times, my homestay grandmother will sound like she is yelling at her husband but in reality she is just explaining something to him. It makes me wonder how they view us.

As much as I love it here, I’m ready to go home and see my friends and family (and my dog). See ya’ll on Thursday!

-Kayla
Today was a typical day in Santiago. The sun pretended to come out a couple times but disappeared again, then eventually it rained.
In class we talked about colloquial phrases often used in Spain. When literally translated, these phrases reference foods and do not make much sense. Once we learned the true meanings, the phrases became comical and rather useful. For instance, if you do not care about something, just say “me importa un pepino” (A cucumber is important to me). Cucumbers are apparently not important. Interesting, right?
Later, we watched popular tv shows (How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, House, etc) which had been translated into Spanish. This was an interesting experience as the voices were completely different from those on the English shows. Although this was expected, it was still strange and a bit distracting. It was easier to watch the episodes that I have seen at home because I understood the context and was able to just listen to the vocabulary used. Being such, I learned several new words, although most would only be used in colloquial settings.
After this, we ventured into souvenir shops around the Cathedral looking for anything fun and exciting we could bring home. (Just wait family!) Scarlett showed me a new cafe which had coffee in any form you could possibly want. We had caramel cappuccinos with about 6 inches of whipped cream on top of it, which provoked comments from a nearby table that only people from America drink such things. I proudly drank that cappuccino. We then ventured to an Italian restaurant for the 6th time while in Santiago. The servers know us by name and have conversations with us while we eat. Sounds odd to eat Italian food while in Spain but it is absolutely delicious.
Overall it was a simple, enjoyable day in Santiago. We are all preparing to leave tomorrow night which has brought bittersweet feelings. In our last bit of time we will be venturing out to all the places we have wanted to visit and buying last minute tokens to remind us of this amazing experience.

See you soon Virginia!

-Emily

May 26 Excursion to Finisterre and Muxía

After Laura, Felicity, and I woke up to our 10 alarms we had set (to prevent against dying phones losing us our place on the excursion.. not that that had ever happened before…….), we boarded the bus to Finisterre along with our 12 other sleepy classmates and sunk into a comatose-like stupor as the tour guide’s lulling, soothing voice told us about where we were going.

We stopped in a little town after about an hour on the bus where we popped into a cafe and drank some much needed coffee.  While walking back to the bus, Cooper and I were stopped by an old man asking us where we were from.  When we responded that we were from Virginia in the United States, he smiled and proceeded to tell us about how he had sailed to Norfolk when he was younger and how he had been in the Chesapeake Bay.  He was a really cute old man and he was so excited to have met young Americans who knew where he had been and was very happy to share his experience with us.  He was extremely (and surprisingly) well spoken in English, and his enthusiasm was tangible.  After we were yelled at by our professors that we were leaving, we had to say our good byes, but it was definitely a great start to the morning.

After trudging back onto the bus, we drove for about 15 minutes and arrived at the edge of a river with a waterfall down a little path.  We walked to the waterfall, which was absolutely gorgeous, and stayed there for a bit; just hanging out and enjoying each others company, listening the symphony of water collapsing into the flowing river behind us, echoing throughout the banks.

After another bus ride, we finally arrived at Finnisterre.  Finnisterre is the official end to the Camino de Santiago and many pilgrims walk from Santiago de Compostela to this point.  It’s a place where there apparently are many spiritual revelations and where people find peace.  It’s tradition to burn clothes on the rocks at the edge of the water, before the huge drop-off that plummets into the ocean, but our tour guide advised us not to do this, and to just write any burdens we had down on a piece of paper and burn it to symbolize the lightness on our hearts that the Camino brought to us.  It was a really beautiful place, huge rocks forming a small peninsula jutting out above the ocean, with large cliffs on all sides.

For lunch, we stopped in a small town called Muros (I think).  It is a small town known for it’s fishing.  We went to a very small fishing museum where a very animated old man explained the different fishing techniques used to catch various types of seafood.  He was really passionate about what he was talking about and he threw in random English words that he knew amid his rapid-fire Spanish to help us try and understand.  It was really refreshing to listen to him explain about something he was very knowledgeable about even though it may have seemed insignificant and simple to other people.  We definitely learned a lot about traditional Galician fishing and learned that it is a lot more complex than we had originally thought.

There was a cute little beach on the edge of the town too.  We spent a lot of time walking on the sand that was littered with stones, shells, and bits of sea glass.  Many of us were fascinated by these little pieces of glass that had been bashed against the sand by the waves so many times that it had become smooth and collected bags full of it.

I also conquered the taxing challenge of skipping stones.  For years, I have been trying to perfect the art, but always become frustrated by my rock consistently sinking to the bottom of the water after a pitiful plop on the surface.  Luckily, Cooper had had a lot of practice at this fine activity at Smith Mountain Lake, so he was able to teach me.  After a few pathetic attempts where I threw my signature failure, I finally got the hang of it and spent a good 30 minutes skimming the surface of the water with round flat stones along with several other classmates.  It was addicting.

We were called back to the bus and begrudgingly boarded, already mourning the beach with it’s sandy banks filled with opportunity to skip rocks and find sea glass, but were excited for our final stop: Muxia.

If you’ve seen the film, The Way, you’ll know the area I’m talking about.  It’s part of the final scene of the movie, when Martin Sheen is on a beautiful rocky beach, tossing his son’s ashes into the frothy water.  This is where we went.  And it was absolutely breath taking.

Our tour guide spoke to us for a few minutes about the significance of the area and some of the history behind it.  She expressed that we take caution while on the boulders since the water can make them slippery and the waves can get fairly big.  A few seconds after her final words, we were off.  A few of us quickly jogged to the end of the grass and joyfully leaped from rock to rock until we reached the edge.  We proceeded to scramble up a fairly tall, completely dry rock beside the water, figuring that no wave would be high enough to reach us.  Oh how wrong we were.  Felicity, Eli, Cooper, and I all received a little (huge) spritz with the ocean water as salty shower covered us at the crash of what seemed, to us, like a tidal wave.  We found another dry rock (very far from the menacing sea) to attempt to dry off and catch some “sol”.

Apart from that funny little mishap, Muxia was incredible.  It was so beautiful and full of history and Christian legends.  It’s a place of peace and reconciliation.  It was really lucky that we had the opportunity to visit it.  I would not have wanted to miss out on this beautiful place.

It really was a great day and an amazing final excursion to end the trip.

- Julia
Today we visted a small town on the coast (Finisterre). Their small town hospitality and sincerity was welcoming as we walked the streets in search of a coke. After a refreshing cold coke with lemon and a rather long bus ride, we walked to a small beach area to relax. I took my shoes off and ran onto the sand and instantly felt the warming sun on my skin and the sand between my toes. As I looked around at the sand, I noticed fragments of sea glass and various rocks. The sea glass instantly caught my eye because of its bright green color and its translucency. I am usually a person who collects sea shells, but the glass was so unique and so beautiful that I could not help but gather a plethroa of glass fragments. I kept turning the fragments over in my hand and feeling the smooth glass that was slightly warmed by the sun. As I continued collecting, I noticed the glass came in various shades of green, dark blue, and a sandy brown color. I felt like I had found treasure and was excited to share it with the my family, friends, and boyfriend back home. However, when I looked up from my gathering expedition I noticed that my shoes were not where I left them. I frantically searched the beach for them and found them among some rocks on the side of the beach. Some bird had carried them to the rocks to feast on my feet sweat, which was absolutely disgusting. I finally shooed the bird away and gathered my shoes. When I returned to collecting sea glass, Kaylani shouted at me asking if I wore socks today. I turned around to answer her with a confused ¨yes¨, and I noticed a stray dog was eating my shoes and socks! Kaylani helped me win back my feet apparel that was covered in dog slobber. I do not understand what is so fantastic about a smelly pair of TOMS and socks, but apparently animals in Spain find them very delicious.
- Scarlett

Today was a excursion to multiple places including a waterfall, Finisterre and Muxia. The morning was sunny, which promised for a wonderful day. After a pit- stop, we visited the Cascadas at Ezaro.

f2The waterfall was probably about 40-50 m tall falling into a river below which we could wade into if we could bear the cold water. There were huge boulders which many of us climbed to get a better view of the water fall and river. The sun had warmed the rocks while lighting up the water and the spectacle left many of us speechless. I think we were all sad to leave after a short while. Afterwards, we drove our way up the coast to Finisterre, also known as the end of the world. We drove up to a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Many other pilgrims were there, sitting on the rocks with their boots off. One could smell the faint sent of smoke. After a few minutes we realized why; there were many mini ash piles dotting the rocky landscape of the cliff. Pilgrims and visitors can write a personal statement or a prayer on a piece of paper then burn the paper in one of the many ash piles. Thus, their thoughts and hopes will float up to the heavens and wait to be answered. People in our group wrote their thoughts and prayers on anything they had. Many made the act of lighting the paper on fire a private matter and found a solitary ash pile. For me, this was a profound moment. Here I was, at the end of the world, lighting my written thoughts on fire and letting them burn in a pile of other peoples hopes, dreams and prayers.

I think it is safe to say that everyone in the group felt a connection to Finisterre. A few brave souls even wandered down to the cliffs’ shore to see the water. Some pilgrims had left their boots sitting neatly on the rocks as a symbol of finishing the Camino and walking to the end of the world.

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We left the cliff to visit a fishing museum in the town nearby. Afterwards, we had about an hour and a half of free time. There was a small beach right below the museum which I made a point to visit. The beach was littered with unique looking rocks and sea glass. I probably spent a good hour hunting for sea glass and enjoying the sun and water. The town was nice and small, with many little cafes to eat at. I can easily say that Finisterre was my favorite part of the excursion and after our stop at the cliff and the beach, I felt so relaxed and tranquil.

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Our last stop was Muxia, which was also on the shore. There was a beautiful church right next to the shore. If anyone has seen the movie The Way, Muxia is the last place that Martin Sheen goes to in the movie. It was a beautiful place with strong, dark aqua waves crashing on big boulders on the shore. There was also a light house right next to the church. It was simple looking and painted a sandy color. It wasn’t as warm here as it was at the beach in Finisterre because there was so much wind. If you looked within the shallow pools of water in between the rocks, you could see very small tad poles swimming in the water, which struck me as oddly funny. There is a rock called the Virgin’s Boat right in front of the church. Apparently, if you crawl underneath the rock 9 times, any back problems that you have will be cured (I thought it was worth a shot). Today’s excursion was easily one of my favorites thus far. I feel like we have been able to see many different parts of Galicia, from the mountains to the ocean. The natural beauty is enough to make anybody fall in love with this beautiful part of Spain.

-Laura Lee

May 25 Excursion to Rías Bajas

The excursion to Rías Bajas (or Baixas if you’re from Galicia) was excellent.  Even though it was another early excursion we made the most of what time we had.  We stopped at many places including a soap museum that makes soap from the rich mineral water that is located in the region.  Even bought a couple bars as presents and some for myself since it made my hands feel all nice and smooth.  And before that we visited a church that was covered in shells and, of course, took pictures of it.  Later that day after we got back to Santiago, some of us went to a Star Wars Festival type get together in front of the catedral and got to hear Darth Vader speak in Spanish (Who knew that Spanish would be an official language of the Darkside?!) However the Star Wars Festival was a high point of the day because there were simply so many people there and Eli, Marcel, Cooper and I had a front row view of what was happening.  There we also saw all the important character from the movies as well as from some of the video games! But finally after the Festival I realized that my memory card was full in my camera which means I have gone through 16GB of pictures and videos since I’ve been in Spain which is nuts to me because it is roughly 1250 pictures and I’m still on the loose with my camera here beside me in the internet cafe.  Well, I guess that is all for now, we don’t have much time left here in España and will miss it until I visit again! Mom, love you give the animals pets for me and I wish dad would be around so that he could see all the crazy pictures I took. Happy Memorial Day Y’all!

-Phil

After returning from our excursion to Rías Bajas, we were able to go to a Star Wars Parade that took place in front of the Cathedral de Santiago, which was an awesome experience.  One of our tour guides, Iñaki, let us know about the parade, because he helped organize it.  It was scheduled to start at 6:00, so all of the students that were interested arrived early to get a decent spot for pictures.  However, as we have come to realize, a Spaniard’s perception of 6:00 and an American’s perception of 6:00 are very different.  The parade began finally at roughly 7:45, to the tune of a Star Wars mixtape that rallied everyone’s (or at least all the nerdy folk’s) attention and enthusiasm.  One gentleman helping run the parade, had a remote controlled Allegiance Class Destroyer ship that he flew in the plaza, until the wind inhibited his control at least, when it crashed into the little child’s face standing in front of me (good thing he was there).  The parade proceeded on, and nearly every major character and many minor characters to ever appear on Star Wars was standing right in front of us.  These characters ranged from the giant, fat blob named Jabba the Hutt, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Jar Jar Binks, Chewbacca, Jango and Boba Fett, to R2-D2.  It was incredible to see so much interest in an American series in a Spanish culture, and was suprised to see how many people came out to the event.  Also, it was very surprising to see how many attractive girls participated in the parade.  We all seemed to enjoy ourselves, and it was a great opportunity to do something new in Spain.

-Cooper

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May 24 Santiago

The Camino left a lot of us tired and worn-down. Now, many of us, including me, are fighting illness here in Santiago. As goes the saying, “The Camino never ends.” Well, neither does life. Even though we’re sick, we are still enjoying our time here in Santiago. It’s a city with so much to do, so many people to meet, and so much history to uncover. I’ve tried to take in as much of the city as possible, meet new people, and learn new things, but there’s still so much left out there that is yet to be discovered. Today, I was reminded of that fact.

My buddy Quint (who has become one of my closest friends) and I just started walking around with no particular destination in mind. As we wandered further and further away from the parts of Santiago that we frequent, we discovered a beautiful park that neither of us had ever seen (or at least, noticed). We walked through the park and just enjoyed the peace and tranquility—a big chance from the fast-paced and noisy city. But this was just the beginning of the beauty we found there. Both of us stopped all of the sudden and let out a sigh as we peaked a hill. In front of us was a gorgeous view of a part of Santiago we had never seen. Houses, pastures, trees, and other beauty filled the valley in front of us, while mountains and a beautiful sun served as an incredible backdrop for the valley.

We sat in relative silence for a couple hours just taking in enjoying the peace and beauty of it all.

Like I said before, it reminded me of all that is left in Santiago that we have yet to experience and enjoy. Moreover, all that is left in the world to experience and enjoy.

“The Camino never ends.”

-Joshua

We began today with class as usual.  In my class we talked a lot about different types of seafood, which made me crave it.  Apparently the seafood here is supposed to be delicious and I’m surprised that we haven’t tried as much of it yet.  I’ll definitely have to put it on my Santiago bucket list to try some navajas (razor clams) as recommended by my teacher, Amanda.

We had nothing planned from Iria-Flavia for the afternoon, but Dr. Talbot had gotten us tickets to go and see el Portico de Gloria, an absolutely beautiful structure in the Cathedral de Santiago.  It’s currently being reconstructed, but we were able to climb up the scaffolding, with the protection of stylish construction hats, and see it up close.  It was designed and carved by the artist Miguel and it actually used to be the outside of the Cathedral.  So when pilgrims would come in from the Camino and looked at the Cathedral they would see this gorgeous, colorful arch with intricate carvings of angels, saints, prophets, and Jesus.  Later, an exterior was added to the Cathedral which helped with keeping the Portico free from erosion.  The detail was incredible- I have absolutely no idea how someone has that much skill and patience to be able to craft something like that out of a solid piece of rock.  My mind was absolutely blown at the beauty of it.  Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to bring cameras up onto the scaffolding so we weren’t able to get pictures but that just gives you all an excuse to go see it yourselves!  It’s definitely something worth seeing.

After that, we went to the Santiago Cathedral Museum.  It was really interesting.  There were different floors explaining different parts of the Cathedral.  I learned that there used to be a massive stone structure inside the Cathedral that was absolutely beautiful, but then torn out in the 1700′s because the style had changed and people wanted it to look more modern, so they replaced the inside with a wooden structure, which was later removed in the 1940′s because it, again, was thought to be old fashioned.   It made me sad that such beautiful structures were torn down because they were though to be old fashioned and ugly.  Luckily, the lowest level of the museum was dedicated to this stone structure and various pieces had been found and used to reconstruct what it would have looked like inside the Cathedral.  It was really cool.

On one of the floors there was a huge open courtyard where we looked around, and then lounged in the sun for a little bit to relax.

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My favorite was the highest floor, where there was an outside balcony overlooking the Plaza de Obradoiro.  It was amazing to look out and see the entire plaza and the different pilgrims entering upon finishing their Camino.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was definitely a great day and I learned a lot about the history of the Catedral de Santiago and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to see el Portico de Gloria.

-Julia

May 23 Santiago

The Cathedral Roof Tour

The Cathedral Roof Tour

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Up on the roof

Up on the roof

Today was one of the most fun days that I’ve had in Santiago so far!  I’m really becoming comfortable with the city, and it’s now a lot easier to find my way around.  I’m really starting to enjoy the whole homestay kind of atmosphere, which I didn’t warm up to initially.  But Teresa, our host, has been really wonderful to us, washing our clothes and cooking really delicious meals for Quint and me.  Often, members of Teresa’s extended family come over to eat lunch, and sometimes Quint or I will eat with them, which is just another great opportunity to practice our Spanish.

Our activities today included karaoke, the pilgrimage museum, and taking a tour of the rooftops of the Cathedral of St. James! (Thanks to Dr. Talbot for posting the photos shown above.)  It was truly an amazing experience, and a really good way to get a grasp on how large the cathdral actually is.  It was a breathtaking moment when we were standing on near the statue of St. James and the bells began to toll.  The bell tower wasn’t more than twenty yards from us, so as you can imagine, the sound was extremely powerful, and I think quite impressive to all of us.  It makes me think of the awe that the people must have felt back in times long ago when they visited the cathedral, when such buildings were fewer and farther between.  Tomorrow we get to go up onto the scaffolding inside the church to see the Pórtico de la Gloria.  We’ll go up in two groups of eight, wearing hard hats and seeing a part of the Cathedral that we will likely never have the chance to see again from the same point of view.  So everybody keep your eyes peeled for more fascinating blog post about that.

After the tour, we split up as usual, and I ended up having dinner at the pleasantest little café you ever saw.  Laura and I were looking for Mediterranean food, which we couldn’t find, but we saw that this café had a Mediterranean burger.  I did not order it, but I did order the Paris burger, which was an ox burger on top of fancy European bread with a massive pile of bacon and queso azul.  ¡Qué fancy!   After dinner, we had café con leche, (coffee with steamed milk, we all drink it often) and with traditional Spanish hospitality, the proprietors invited us to have a free shot of coffee liquor with our café. Apparently, it’s both popular in Galicia and culturally significant.

I’m very excited about our excursion to Pórtico de la Gloria, and there’s been some talk of heading to the discoteca on Friday night.  It’s a classic Spanish experience, but I’m just not sure if I’m hardcore enough to do it properly.  Miguel, Teresa’s son, told Quint and me that most discotecas don’t open their doors until three or so in the morning.  So we’ll see about that… A siesta (or two) may be necessary.  =D

Anyway, Mom, Dad, Dwayne, Jane, Will, and Victoria: I miss and love you guys!  I hope that y’all are having awesome summers, and I can’t wait to tell you all about my experiences when I get back!

- Ted