Lovely long weekend with my friends Libby & Rich. We stayed in a 5th floor apartment in a very old very central building and this had amazing views over the rooftops.
We spent Friday in an around Santiago, mostly in and around cafes in fact. At evening mass the botafumeiro - the giant incense burner - was indeed swung and it was a pretty awe-inspiring spectacle. One can't help but imagine the consequences if the rope snapped - heavy silver receptacle full of hot embers travelling at high speed over the heads of a thousand pilgrims...
Saturday we took a day trip by train to A Coruña, on the north coast. This is a big and flourishing modern city, but with a long history, including a roman- built lighthouse. Very impressive and a worthy world heritage site. We did a lot of wandering around the seaside and then joined the locals who were all out having a Saturday seafood lunch in the narrow old town streets. I really will stop eating octopus soon.
Sunday we fulfilled Libby's ambition to at least have coffee in Santiago's Hostal Dos Reyes Catholicos - once the hospital for ailing pilgrims (which I imagine most were, by this stage), now a parador (state-run 5 star hotel). As it's Palm Sunday the Easter parades are beginning in earnest, with the Klu Klux Klan headgear of the cofradias as sinister as always. We then walked out of town to visit the City of culture, a new and enormous white elephant situated on one of the hills overlooking the city. I can't imagine how it got built (mostly... About a quarter is still unfinished and now never will be) but it's as astonishing up close as it is from afar. It had a nice free art exhibition on, and also hosts concerts etc but seems almost entirely unused.
Teresa arrives tonight, and tomorrow we walk on towards Finisterre.