20 September 2010
I’ve had a really pleasant past couple of days! Yesterday I rode the train from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela. It was a seven and a half hour ride, but very comfortable and nice. The seats on the train are comparable to domestic First Class plane seats (Ah! I remember First Class fondly from those days when I used to travel for work!). They are wide and comfortable, with plenty of leg room! And you aren’t tied down by seat belts… there was a large fold down tray table on which to set up the computer. And best of all… there was beautiful scenery to watch! What more could you ask for?
My new hostel room is twice the size of the last (it actually has some floor space!), but is considerably more noisy. The last one had the advantage of coming equipped with a fan. The fan not only kept the air circulating, but created “white noise” that masked the ambient noise of the building. I’m not so lucky here… but… it’s CHEAP! Got to love it!
Today I walked to the Cathedral of Saint James… aka the Apostle James the Greater, or Saint James, the Moor slayer. Legend has it that the Apostle James had preached in the Iberian Peninsula after the Pentecost, but had returned to the Holy Land, where he was martyred. His followers put his body in a stone boat… in some legends the boat has no rudder… and it miraculously makes its way across the Mediterranean Sea, through the Straits of Gibraltar, and lands on the shore near Santiago. The body is given a fitting burial, but the location is lost for centuries… until just about the time that Muslim “Moors” are making headway into the Iberian Peninsula.
Apparently the Muslims have a relic of the Prophet Muhammad to carry into battle… and it seems to be working for them! They’re winning! That is until the body of Saint James the Greater is conveniently “rediscovered”! The relics of St. James gives the Christians something to rally around and the tide is turned! Don’t you just love a “happy” ending?
Anyway… ever since their “rediscovery” people have been traipsing across Europe to Santiago to visit the tomb of Santiago (“Saint James” in Spanish). As many of you know… I plan to WALK (you have to walk to get the extra credit for the pilgrimage) from France to Santiago next year. Why? Why not? It is a physical and spiritual challenge that everyone who makes it seems to be the better for. So… I’m in Santiago doing reconnaissance for next year. I spoke to a couple of pilgrims today. One I spoke to at length was a German named Dennis who had done the complete route I hope to do. He assured me that it was tough, but I could do it! He said that there were many OLD people on the trail, I would not feel alone! Sweet guy, that Dennis! LOL!
I’ll be here tomorrow as well, and then move South into Portugal.
Life’s a TRIP!