Chapter Twenty Five - Santiago de Compostela
Trip Start Jun 18, 2013
40Trip End Aug 20, 2013
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Where I stayed
We are amazed at the complexity of the city’s parks. We are able to virtually circle the old town entirely within lovely green parks.
Our nearest town is a place called A Estrada. That’s where our local bus to Santiago comes from. We feel we ought to pop down to visit it. Installing our trusty steed in the ubiquitous underground parking lot, we sally forth. Just across the street is a "Chino", the Spanish equivalent of a dollar shop. We need some odds and ends, so we enter. Miryam is wandering around looking at what’s for sale, when we are sharply advised by the sales person.
“Apurate, estamos cerrando”, hurry up, we’re closing. Sure enough it’s two a’clock. It’s siesta time. Although It doesn’t seem to be prevalent much in Madrid now, all provincial towns and cities religiously observe the long mid-day break called siesta. At two on the dot, everything closes down except some restaurants and cafes. The city dies for two hours or so. Here everything will open again at 4.30 pm.
We abandon A Estrada to its slumber and return to Santiago. When we enter the city, I had seen to the right on a hilltop a strange looking very contemporary building. Asking our favourite librarian, he told us it was the Cidade da Cultura de Galicia, the City of Culture of Galicia. He ruefully told us that it had cost a lot of money, and that it wasn’t even finished yet.
We decide to investigate. Indeed the parking lot looks a bit uninhabited, but putting caution to the winds, we park and enter. It is indeed a stunning building, actually shaped like to top of the hill it is perched upon, in fact the idea of the American architect Peter Eisenman, was to copy the profile of the mountain.
There is still plenty of construction to do but the two main buildings are completed, the library, museum and performing arts centre. Even though they cost the people of Galicia a fortune (with a little help from Europe, of course), they have something they can be very proud of when it is completed.
We had seen the grinning face of a young boy from the Amazon, with bamboo spikes through his cheeks on posters ever since we entered Galicia. Orinoco is the theme. Spooky, we thought! Well, here it is, an visiting exhibition at this amazing museum. We felt sorry for the cashier at the entrance as her face really lit up as we approached. There can’t have been more than four of five people inside the museum at that time. For just €4 we could visit the exhibit, to boot, old age pensioners were free! She didn’t even want to see my passport (do I look that old?) The presentation was superb, as was the setting. These temporary exhibits struggle to use a small portion of the available space. To top off a fascinating afternoon, we are told there will be a free concert that evening with the Galician Chamber Orchestra. You know how much we love the word “free”!
At 8:30 on the dot we are seated in the best seats awaiting the performance, which starts exactly on time at 9. The orchestra is first class and I must admit we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the players and especially the concert master, Rogelio Groba Otero. He is a master at the violin and also a brilliant and engaging master of ceremonies. To my satisfaction, this evening almost all the pieces were by English composers. We closed our stay at Santiago on a high note (literally!).