Hello Parish of Santiago,
I think, for me, this will always be the quintessential Spanish city (at least in Galicia). There is the perfect mix of the Medieval old city, and a large cosmopolitan, modern city (even saw a burger king, NO...I didn't !). What I love about it is how separate they are. I will be staying in the old city Sun, Mon, Tues, but Thurs, Fri, Sat I've been outside, the Albergue being a bit of a walk (it's all pretty relative after after 150 miles). The contrast when you walk in is striking, you cross a busy city block and you're in a different world (like the Wizard of Oz when it turns to color). The old city is basically a giant circle, with the Cathedral at the center. The cobblestone streets fan out like spokes, and every one them has cafes, tapas bars, shops; I've never seen 3 ice cream shops on the same block (two of them next to each other, with an Iberian Jamon shop next to those), all of them with lines. It is a great place to just walk around. The girl in the chocolate shop asked me how I knew Spanish, and said my pronunciation was very good (she didn't know I that I only know about 10 phrases and 50 words, of course I know how to buy chocolate, AND she said, "See you tomorrow", and she will). I will even manage to have a couple of sit down dinners, a table, with a menu, waiter etc. (already had Pulpo Feira and razor clams). A weak attempt to pass on the experience of being here, it is wonderfully unique.
So, last night was the Nocturnal tour of the inside of the restored Cathedral (which is their pride and joy). There were only about 15 of us on the tour (in English!) and it was pretty awesome to have the whole place to ourselves. I was able to see everything up close. I was distracted, however, because we weren't allowed to take pictures (even the guide admitted he couldn't explain it since people walk through it all day taking pictures (we could take pictures of the Altar from an upper nave, but you can barely tell what it is). At least, I finally got to hug the statue of St. James (a tradtion from the 12 th cent.). Other than that, I have to confess, I was bummed, it even messed with my sleep a little. I had another tour this morning; the Decks and Carracas's Tower (the roof). I got there slightly early and one of the main doors of the Cathedral (there's 4 or 5 of them) was open with NO line (they're usually about an hour and a half wait). I walked right in and took all the pictures I couldn't take on my 25 euro tour. Couldn't get down to tomb again, or to Portical of Glory, but I will try again. I wasn't even late for the tour. One of the coolest things I've ever done (if not a tad scary). The first set of pictures to follow are of the inside of the Cathedral, the next set will be the roof and towers. I'm not really a tour-guy, so this has been different, I do enjoy not being on a schedule more. Wish you were here. Peace, fb