Monday, November 26, 2012

Vigo, Santiago de Compostela – November 6, 2012

Vigo, Santiago de Compostela – November 6, 2012

I had decided to take the ship bus to Santiago de Compostela, but not the ship tour.  I did not want a tour, but simply a bus ride.  I wanted to see the cathedral and the town on my own, a I usually do, and it turned out that I made the right choice. 

The geography of the Vigo region is very pretty – deep green rolling hills – and the freeway to Santiago de Compostela is new and smooth.  The one-hour drive was very pretty.  The bus arrived in Santiago just before noon, and the cathedral was closed for noon mass until 1:00 p.m., so I decided to go for a walk in the town.  The tour guide on the bus had suggested a place in a nearby park where I could get a nice view and photo of the cathedral, so I headed there first.  She was right, the view was great.  I then walked through the old town taking photos of some of the historical buildings as well as a small demonstration.  I found the local market with its fruit and vegetable stalls, as well as the fish and meat stalls.  Markets are always interesting for photos, and I enjoyed taking photos there. 

As I was wandering around in the old town, I came to an interesting building that seems to have been one of the buildings of the university; it was historical, but it was in use and many college-age kids were entering and exiting the building.  Just across the little plaza was another interesting old building, and when I entered, I was surprised to find that I was inside the cathedral.  I was surprised again by the cathedral; it was very dark and not nearly as ornate as many other cathedrals.  Although the altar was gold, there were no mosaics or murals.  It was simply large, dark and plain. 

After exiting the cathedral, I continued walking in the town taking photos of other historical buildings until time to reboard the bus back to the ship.

The only negative of the day was the bus driver, who drove in a dangerous manner.  He drove so fast that he passed other busses that had left earlier – both going to Santiago and returning.  And he also weaved from lane to lane and jerked the bus quickly at times.  When I returned to the ship, I reported him to the tour office.

My lasting impression of Santiago de Compostela is that I don’t understand why there is a pilgrimage there.  Not being Catholic, I do not understand many of the beliefs of the Catholic faith; for example, I cannot understand how people can believe that ancient bodies of saints can suddenly be discovered, as St. James’ body is believed to have been, and then worshiped.  Nevertheless, I find all religions and worship practices to be interesting.  Most of all, I find it interesting that the knowledge and ability to construct massive cathedrals existed so long ago. 

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