The quantum dilemma
Trip Start Feb 15, 2007
29Trip End Jul 17, 2007
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Santiago de Compostela is a lovely city, which has been in my 'must visit' list for a long time, at least for as long as I learned that Galiza had its own language and that Santiago was its capital. And that the language is so interesting - close enough to Spanish that in short sentences I can not always say for sure which is which; close enough to Portuguese that I could understand almost everything of it, even when I had had but a shred of contact with it; yet different enough that it has its own feel - a sad and cute language it is, with all its 'x' and 'ñ', its plenty of diminutives and its 'saudade' (that word is not exclusive to Portuguese, after all)... or maybe that is just the impression I got with by reading the poems I bought, written by one of the first to publish in Galician after its use was forbidden for a long time.
And, yes, it is indeed a lovely city, such a standard Spanish city outside the boundary of the former city walls (which can be very clearly identified, even though they do not stand anymore), so beautiful inside those limits, with all the narrow streets and granite buildings, and then you are walking around randomly and stumble upon a huge monument which draws pilgrims from all over.
But somehow, the massive pilgrim flow does not seem to detract from the city so much as the standard flock of tourists detracts from the standard city. When I travel, I travel to see different places and different peoples in their natural setting, or in as natural a setting as possible, given that my mere presence (as every tourist's) disturbs the normal routine. Too many tourists change a city so much that it almost feels like a theme park (as did Praha in my last visit), but here I feel that the pilgrims are like an essential part of the city, that Santiago is Santiago partly because of the pilgrims, and it would be their absence that would detract from the city. Here I get the feeling that the tourism does not interfere with the city, that I am almost like an invisible observer catching an unaware particle by surprise, that is why I love the city.