Marly Camino promised us a special farewell dinner on our last evening together, and they did deliver on that promise. Ignacio took us on a walk through the old city to the square in front of the main entrance to the Cathedral (unfortunately, this entrance is being restored, and much to my disappointment, I was not able to place my hand in the column underneath the statue of St. James [though when Kris and I visited the Cathedral the following day, she said that she would try to distract the restoration person who was taking photographs so that I could sneak under the rope and put my hand on the column–I really did not want to find out how the Justice system works in Santiago so I declined.])
Our dinner was in the Palladar de los Reyes, a residence for royalty and other people of significance who come to visit the Shrine. It was build on the site of a former hospital for Pilgrims and it is still used by the King of Spain to greet and house heads of state.
We had a lovely dinner in a room all to ourselves and were treated to a Galician bag piper and a skit with a woman playing a Galician witch. She even came with her own cauldron.
Frankly, I could have done without the bagpiper — he seemed like a nice enough guy, but those bagpipes are so blasted loud I about came out of my skin–the woman who played the witch got on my nerves, too, but if I had had more wine I might have been more receptive.
Three of our group took a cab back to the hotel, while Ignacio walked Kris, Paola and me back. We stopped to hear a troupe of musicians in traditional Galician costume, playing music in one of the arcades.
Ignacio said that they are student in the law school of the University of Santiago and that they pay their way through school by playing for tourists. They seemed like nice guys and the crowd was really digging their music.
Friday, we had a city tour with a local guide, Paloma, who walked us around the old city and explained much of the symbolism in the reliefs around the cathedral. We also overheard a nasty fight between a few gypsies who park themselves at the entrance to the Cathedral. “They are very territorial,” Paloma said, “They are worse than the mafia when it comes to guarding their turf.”
We had just about finished our tour when Ignacio appeared, out of the blue, to join us for the last twenty minutes. We bid good-bye to Ignacio and thanked him for his great service to us.
Kris and I did a little exploring around the areas near the Cathedral and then we decided to return to the Cathedral in hopes that it would be quieter than when we first visited. While there were a lot of people milling around, we were glad that we returned to visit. I spend several minutes in the crypt chapel that has the reliquary with the remains of St. James. Since I could not place my hand on the column in the Portico of Glory, I thought that taking a few moments in prayer in this quiet space would make up for it, and it did. Kris and I also discovered a small chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Mother, that appears to be part of the Cathedral that dates from the 8th Century.
Later, our new friend, Paola, joined us for a stroll around the city and an early dinner. We found a very pleasant and very tiny Italian Restaurant that was the perfect spot for a farewell dinner with our new friend. Upon arriving at the hotel, Cheryl, Lorel and Kathleen were just preparing to leave for dinner, so we could say our farewells.
My newest phrase in Spanish is “Vale, vale, vale.” It’s the equivalent of “Ok, ok, ok.” [It seems to always be done in 3’s.] We bid farewell to Santiago, to the Camino and to Spain, but we hold many wonderful memories in our hearts and spirits.