Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Love You, Santiago!

It was a gorgeous day the day we arrived in Santiago de Compostela. Our flight had been great and I even got several hours of sleep. So rather than taking a nap, I took to the streets with my camera. The icon of the city is the Cathedral. Later than afternoon several of us went to Mass.

The cathedral is on the east side of a large square and our hotel -- Hostal de los Reyes Catholicos -- was on the north side. This is one of Spain's paradors -- the government turns historic buildings into fantastic hotels. This is quite likely the world's oldest hotel -- founded in 1499 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to house pilgrims who came to the shrine of Saint James. I loved my room and the hotel was wonderful -- beautiful rooms, courtyards, furnishings and a gracious staff.

The first music I heard in Spain was the last I expected to hear -- bagpipes! This northwest corner of the country has a great Celtic heritage. Cut off from the rest of Spain by mountains, Galicia was very different from my expectations -- and I loved it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spanish Amulet

When Andreas told us he had an amulet in his pocket, we thought he said omelet! He struggled to pull out a small ceramic figure -- oh, amulet! He says Galicians are suspicious but he isn´t -- still he carries an amulet just in case.... His particular amulet protects him from hypocrites. You can buy different ones to protect you from other things or you can make a hand gesture for general protection.

Andreas was our guide to the Archbishop´s Palace and roof of the cathedral. His English was actually quite good but he apologized for it, saying it "sucked." Patricia (our hostess) told him if he knew that slang term, he was doing fine.

Yesterday was beautifully sunny and I took full advantage -- taking lots of pictures. Today is gray and cooler -- I needed my jacket. Even the exercise of climbing the stairs didn´t warm me too much.

Once you reach the second floor of the palace, you have 84 more tall steps to the roof. We climbed out onto the the granite shingles of the roof -- I don´t know what else to call them. They looked like the same stone used throughout the cathedral. From there we got a bird´s eye view of the bell tower, the rattle tower and the clock tower. The bell and rattle towers are on the front of the cathedral. There are 15 bells in the bell tower, which is the southernmost of the two towers. During Holy Week (I think in the past, don´t think so now, must check this out) they didn´t ring the bells since they were associated with joy so they used a large rattling instrument.

One of today´s highlights was stopping at a convent to buy pasteries from the nuns. We took them to a coffeeshop and Patricia bought me a chocolate espeso (since I don´t drink coffee). This is a wonderful, dark hot chocolate drink almost as thick as pudding. That should keep me awake for a while! And no, that isn't Patricia -- it's a lovely lady at the coffeeshop. I'm sorry I didn't get her name. Tonight we went out for tapas. I thought we'd be in about 10. Obviously, I'm not with the program yet. In Spain dinner starts at 9! We got home at midnight.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Please don't give up on me! I've been up to my ... in alligators -- literally and figuratively. Just got home from a great trip to Beaumont, Texas, and I leave in the morning for Santiago de Compostela, Spain! Hopefully, I'll catch up when I get home. In the meantime, please hang with me -- check http://www.teddietravel.blogspot.com/ , the site belonging to my traveling teddy Vanilla and, if I can get to a computer, I'll try to pop in to Facebook while I'm gone. See you soon!