We decided to spend our two days in Santiago doing one day of chores and one day of sightseeing, but it didn’t quite end up working out that way. Our chore day yesterday went pretty well and, among other things, we replaced all the brake blocks on the bikes because we’d worn them clean through coming down those mountains in the rain!
We also reorganised our kit yesterday and decided to send the 9 kg of climbing gear home. Dave has been lugging it around and although we’re both chuffed that we used it with Carlos and Silvia, we decided that enough is enough and it’s going back. Dave has a bit of a swollen ankle, so it’s probably for the best! Hopefully his ankle will get better and will be the only injury of the trip. I thought I was getting a horrible disease of the hands a few days ago but it’s just chilblains, which are almost healed now – need to make sure I put my gloves on when zooming downhill!
Today we wanted to go to the shops to stock up on food and Dave wanted to replace his shoes. But alas, it was May Day festivos and everything was closed except the bakeries! So we bought some bread and cheese, had first lunch and did some route planning before heading to the cathedral.
Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful city, although we’ve heard (and seen!) that it is one of the rainiest in Europe. The old centre of town has wonderful stone buildings and spires and fountains, as well as thousands and thousands of tourists, even on a festivos day!
In the cathedral we looked at the big incense burner, golden altar, giant organ, shrines, confession boxes and the large queue of people waiting to hug the apostle. The huge incense burner sometimes gets swung by its huge rope, almost to the ceiling at either end of the church, it’s quite a spectacle. Apparently it was originally done to mask the scent of the camino pilgrims, it is now done primarily as a tourist attraction. We missed it swinging today, but met someone who had filmed it and watched his footage that was complete with the sound of children squealing in a mixture of fear and delight at the burner whizzing over their heads!
This evening, we headed back to the hostel for dinner (more bread and cheese) and evening hangouts with the other hostel inmates. Our route for the next week has been under debate, but we’ve heard that the Portuguese route of the Camino trail south of here is beautiful and cycle-friendly, so we may go south for a few days before we head inland towards the Faia Brava Reserve, where we should arrive in about a week.