Day 50, Sightseeing Muxia and Santiago

Last night I ate on the harbour front, in a small and cozy restaurant. I had dorado and salad again, this and the hake has rapidly become a favourite! It was not as good as the night before but still very nice.

It is clear that October is the end of the Camino season, far fewer places are open and given the small number of pilgrims who walk here, there are very few pilgrims around in the evening, or morning. Numbers peak in the middle of the day as buses arrive travelling through both Finesterre and Muxia. The hotel I had booked was based on a recommendation and was great. Very small and cozy but modern and comfortable. It is supposed to have an amazing restaurant but the restaurant is closed this time of year which is a shame but it was a great recommendation from the chap I met at San Juan de a Ortega. 

I didn’t set an alarm this morning planning a lie in. I was later than usual, but I had to work at this by reading in bed! After a leisurely breakfast I headed back up to the cape before the buses arrived to enjoy the peacefulness and the waves. It is not windy like yesterday and so I was able to wander across with rocks without feeling like I was about to be blown off. This is definitely a favourite spot, totally natural and unspoilt.

I took the time to walk up the hill above the cape, there are amazing views back over Muxia to the town and the port, it is a very pretty town. I am now enjoying a beer, and free lunch snacks, on the port front! However, I have just inadvertently eaten tripe as part of my tapas of chickpea and chorizo stew!

Back to Santiago after lunch. I have booked a celebratory night in the Parador next to the Cathedral. This is one of the most highly regarded of Spain’s network of Paradores,  Paradores are Spain’s government run hotels often located in restored historical sites. This one, also known as Hostal dos Reis Catolicos, was originally built as a royal hospital in 1499 for the sick and weary pilgrims visiting this Galician capital city. It was converted to the hotel/Parador in l958.

After I was checked in and left the busy entrance (many pilgrims who are not staying here like to take a peek inside but are not allowed beyond the front desk and lobby area), the history started to unfold. The place is almost like a museum, with many corridors, sitting areas and four cloistered courtyards and lovely secret gardens set inside. Along with an ancient chapel, there are sculptures and artwork throughout; and many wall plaques (in English and Spanish) helpfully explain the history of some of the construction and objects. I was even given a guide to the Parador Museo and all the floors so that I can explore!! 

My room was not huge, but given that it is a basic single it is pretty amazing! It goes without saying that despite being a basic room it has a double bed, bath and hairdryer, so nothing else required! Later in the afternoon, sitting on the hotel terrace with a glass of the refreshing local Albarino white wine, was very chilled. From this patio, there’s a great view over the Praza do Obradoiro and onto the famous cathedral where all the pilgrims arrive, and the sound of the bagpipes waft over the square.

I decided I was ready to hug St James now, it feels right, I did not want to when I first arrived in Santiago but now I feel differently. So I returned to the cathedral today and joined the queue to hug and thank the Saint for my journey. I also went to the crypt to see the box which contains his bones. Whilst the arrival of St James and his identity might be shrouded in myth. The pilgrimage across Spain is very special regardless of religion.

St James…visitors can hug him from the back…

I have decided to bar hop for tapas this evening instead of sitting for dinner, it seems to be working for me. The Parador restaurants are supposed to be great but I feel underdressed, and I think that is something for another time, perhaps when I come back to see the cathedral fully open for mass.

Today is the first day in 7 weeks where I have not met my 12,000 step target…need to work harder on that!

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