Day 14- Rest Day in Santiago de Compostella
Waking up at 8am to a bleak and wintery Saturday, it was unusual to lie in and know that there was no where to go today. The backpacks remain slumped and deflated in the corner of the very small hotel room. The smell of coffee wafting up from the café, two flights below us, as the sound of clinking cutlery is heard indicates that breakfast has begun. It is another hour before we encourage our weary bodies out of bed and down the narrow steps for a cafe con leche and rustic toast.
We find a laundromat about ten minutes away and will now enjoy the sweet smell of clean clothes for another couple of days. (Small things I know). I am walking through a Santiago I missed last time as we stroll through the commercial side of the city. The shops around the Cathedral are geared up for tourists with loads of souvenirs and a smorgasbord of restaurants. This is where you meet up with your Camino family for long lunches and dawdles through the trinkets. The outer city is full of locals getting on with life.
We attended the packed midday pilgrims mass in the Cathedral de Santiago. Arriving twenty-five minutes early, it was still hard to find an empty pew. The service was in Spanish with a smattering of English, mainly to inform us about turning off mobile phones and not to use cameras during the service. The mass becomes more animated towards the end, when all the Cathedral is abuzz waiting for the botafumeiro to swing. All cautions are unheeded as mobile phones and cameras follow the pendulous smoke across the church. Initially and historically started to fumigate the smelly pilgrims, this large silver incense burner, the size of a small child, requires six red-robed monks to heave on a spider web of rope to start the pendulum rocking. It is a marvelous spectacle to end a pius performance.
After lunch we strolled around the beautiful Alameda Park which is just outside the old town. Another place that I wish I came to last time I was here when the trees would have been covered in leaves and the flowers in full bloom. We wandered around the park waiting for a “When Harry met Sally” moment before the rain came and drove us back to the warmth of “our” café.
Now we have just over an hour before we see Chloe. She is flying in from her holiday in Africa to spend the next week with us. Time for a hot chocolate and piece of cake before the hugging begins.