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Santiago de Compostela cathedral
Spain, Portugal and Basque France Adventure 2014

A glimpse into pilgrims and hostals

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain and Canary Islands
Sunday, June 22, 2014

We were now officially on the pilgrimage road leading to the final destination, Santiago del Compostelo. At breakfast Herb and Judy spoke to
two pilgrims from San Diego who actually walked from Paris, France! He is 70 years old and his wife a little younger. Apparently they walk about 20 miles a
day. The movie “The Way’ is based on this Camino de Santiago. Shells mark the different routes leading to Santiago. Pilgrims have ‘pilgrim passport books’
that they have stamped at the different hostels along the way. This couple did not stay in the hostels that are very overcrowded and primitive – up to 100
people in communal rooms. On reaching Santiago, they report at a certain portal where they get their final stamp and a certificate celebrating the completion
of their pilgrimage.

We had a leisurely start to the day. We drove past the medieval city of Lugo and turned off to a small village for lunch. Of course,the server could not understand English and we were at a loss to understand the menu. I happened to see ‘sandwiches’ written on the door and we pounced on theword. AHA! She came out of the kitchen with a chunk of ham, a big hunk of cheese
and a head of lettuce. After more gesturing and fingerpointing and recognizing ‘tomato’ and remembering ‘mustaso’ from the day before (mustard for our
hamburgers!), we were in business. Actually, we recognized some species of fish on the menu and two of us got fish sandwiches as well.

We spotted a few pilgrims en route, including one who was obviously overcome and was being carried to a waiting car. We also saw the trail on a few occasions.

We arrived in Santiago late afternoon and Lucia, the GPS, led us to a parking area with a guy frantically waving us in to park. He pointed us in the right direction but no one seemed to be there. We drove around a little bit and then after phoning, we established contact with the son of the owners who let us in and proceeded to treat us with great hospitality, even making us
tea and coffee. Much to Herb’s dismay, we landed back at the same car park with the same guy and being South African bred, I tipped him for his troubles and for looking after the car. All’s well that ends well!

Late afternoon, Maryln and I strolled to the cathedral inthe old quarter and did a little shopping. We took a tourist train to see the city. As we neared the final stop, the rain came down in torrents and we had to sit and wait until it died down before hailing a taxi.

Well, unbeknown to us, Herb and Judy undertook a tour of the roof of the cathedral and were clinging to the tiles when the storm broke out! They arrived back at Hostal Alfonso absolutely drenched but elated!

In the meantime, the owners came home and we sat down in their little inside courtyard for a long chat and a bottle of local wine. They recommended a nearby restaurant Don Quichote and wrote down the dishes they thought we should try. Thank goodness he warned us to share the plates for the portions were very generous. Later, we had a memorable evening at the
restaurant and the waiter must have liked us because he plied us with free liquors that we had to taste!

No one is in a hurry in Spain and once you’ve ordered and your food is served, no one really bothers to come and find out if you’re happy with your order – unless you’re in a very fancy place . And it takes ages to get your bill and pay. It seems that they like having the place abuzz with happy customers! Very different to our rushed culture.

We found out from the owners’ son that originally, Portugal was part of Spain and that Portuguese is very similar to Galicean as spoken in this province.

Don Quichote restaurant, Santiago
Hostal Alfonso
Parador in Santiago at the cathedral
Restaurant Don Quichote, Santiago
Santiago cathedral roo
Santiago cathedral square
Santiago de Compostela cathedral
View from Santiago cathedral roof
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