We are all Pilgrims

Santiago de Compostela Travel Blog

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The little pension in Santiago

In true ´Grace´fashion, my nose twitched and led me to the craziest Pension in Santiago. It looks like a restaurant downstairs but there is no food. They have a coffee machine but don´t serve coffee. It is five minutes from the Cathedral in a street with a name longer than the street itself and you have to look hard to find it. The room Beatriz and I are sharing is divine. We are on the third floor of a rambling old building with a white wooden balcony enclosed in glass. The windows open to let the breeze flow through and we have wooden shutters for afternoon siesta and night-time privacy from the neighbours across the way. 

The inner bedroom wall has been scraped back to original stone and in some of the crevices, previous occupants have left tiny shells or piedras (stones) with messages.

Typical Galician dinner - starting wiith the Ribeiro served in Tazas
It is so cute - and we have a view of two of the Catedral spires from our balcony. The balcony is shared with the single room next door and separated by a metal grill. We said hi to our young male neighbour before heading out to dinner last night.

Because the Pension is perched on the corner of a tiny square, we are inundated with restaurants (not turistico but more for locals). We decided to eat only typical Galician food for our first Santiago meal so started with Ribeiro wine served traditionally from a white ceramic jug and tazas (the little ceramic cups). First course was Caldo Gallego, a rich potato, bean and cabbage soup and found on every menu in town. This was followed with Pulpo Gallego, octopus that has firstly been slowly boiled and then the legs sliced about 1 cm thick and quickly grilled to order with loads of olive oil and paprika.

New friend Tim (neighbour in Pension)
It is then served up on a wooden platter and eaten with toothpicks. Buena!!Dessert was Tarta de Santiago, a traditional tart with almonds and dusted with icing sugar - always with a cross of Santiago left un-dusted in the centre.

We noticed another lone pilgrim, Paco, and asked him to join us for coffee and orujo. Shortly after we recognised the young man from our pension, also alone and called him over as well. Tim is from UK and has just completed his Architecture degree. Although not a pigrim, we made him an honarary one as he has visited Finnisterre (100 km from Santiago, on the Atlantic and the final stop for some pilgrims) and walked to the lighthouse twice (12 km). He carried with him a giant book - the complete story of Don Quixote (1000 pages) so that also counts.

Bici pilgrim, Paco
Paco is the happiest person I have ever met, always smiling with those special eyes that sparkle. He crafts one-off lamps on commission for places like boutique hotels and completed his pilgrimage on bicycle (bici-grino).

So now the four pilgrims decided to finish the day with a fiesta and wandered through the small streets following the sounds of rock music. The whole town is now gearing up for Dia de Santiago on 25th July; the day of celebration in honour of St James. Every night there are avtivities and only last week the Ten Tenors sung for free in the Plaza. Last night we firstly watched a local band (singing Abba badly!) and then made our way to the Latin American festival.

In the space of three hours we sampled many Mojitas, danced to raunchy Latin American music with near naked dancers,  danced to techno with a Latin American DJ and finally sung and clapped with a full Mexican Mariachi band! There must have been about 15 guitars ranging in size from chicatita to grandita.

Pilgrims partying

At one point, late in the evening, everyone was on stage together either playing, singing or (in the case of the 2 near naked latin girls) dancing!.I just cannot find words to do justice to the craziness of the night. There were children dancing with their parents and an very cute old man of about 75 who did not stop dancing for 3 hours.

At one stage I lost Béatriz and when I found her she had met up with a man who had given her directions on her way through Santiago. He was wearing a tracksuit from the 70´s and a truckers hat 3 sizes too small but having the time of his life on his own. What could we do but ask him to join us and the laughs continued. Just Crazy.

So Paco, the designer of custom (and very expensive) designer lamps from Marbella, Tim the architect with 50 words of Spanish to his credit (and many more by the end of the night), the Spanish truck driver who gave directions, Béatriz and Grace were all pilgrims.

Hmmmm . . . .
The fiesta turned five strangers into friends for a night.

Béatriz and I (with Tim and his huge Don Quixote book in tow) crept back to the Pension at 4.00 am, still giggling and having been awake for 24 hours. We are all Pilgrims.

Besos, Grace

npottle says:
Hi Grace, I just spent a wonderful afternoon reading your travel blog of the Via de la Plata. My partner and I are planning to walk a week of the route in September and to finish it on another trip. My partner has already walked 400 km of the route and we have both walked the Camino Frances. Thanks for your vivid descriptions of your own camino and the pleasure you obviously took in doing it and meeting all the wonderful people on your way. And if you are still in Santiago, please have a cafe con leche for us.
Nigel and Geordie, Vancouver, Canada
Posted on: Jul 22, 2008
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The little pension in Santiago
The little pension in Santiago
Typical Galician dinner - starting…
Typical Galician dinner - startin…
New friend Tim (neighbour in Pensi…
New friend Tim (neighbour in Pens…
Bici pilgrim, Paco
Bici pilgrim, Paco
Pilgrims partying
Pilgrims partying
Hmmmm . . . .
Hmmmm . . . .