Santiago de Compostela Journals

A Pilgrim's Romp in Spain

A July 2001 trip to Santiago de Compostela by janebubb

Parador Hostal San Marcos - Leon Photo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain More Photos
Quote: Although legitimate pilgrims walk the "Camino de Santiago" on foot and come from afar, the sites along the way to Santiago can be seen and enjoyed by those who take the train as well. Our pilgrimage took us first to Leon and then to Santiago de Compostela.

A Pilgrim's Romp in Spain

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Overview

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1) The Paradores: In Leon, the Parador Hostal San Marcos. In Santiago, the Parador de los Reyes Catolicos. 2) Bar-hopping in Leon's Plaza San Martin 3) Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela 4) Wandering around the Plaza Cervantes and surrounding streets in SantiagoQuick Tips: The northwestern part of Spain always sported grey cloudy skies while we were there in early July, so be prepared for rain if you go then. Also, make sure you pick up maps at the tourist offices if you can. El Corte Ingles makes a good map of Leon, and restaurants in Santiago have maps on their placemats.Best Way To Get Around: As long as you're not carrying heavy bags, the best way to get around...Read More

Parador Hostal San Marcos - Leon

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Hotel

Parador Hostal San Marcos - Leon Photo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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All the details of this hotel recall its past as a monastery: stone staircases and creaky wooden doors with wrought metal locks, dark hallways full of elegant medieval furniture (the kind they rope off in museums). Glass doors emblazoned with the Parador logo lead you to overlook greenery of the cloister. Another pair of glass doors let you peer into the old church that is attached to the parador, now under repair. The bed is sumptuous, and you are supplied with a free Spanish book as well as almonds. The bathroom is thoroughly modern and is stocked with any kind of toiletry you can think of, from bath salts to a razor blade. A breakfast buffet (free) is served in the morning. As for location, i...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 8, 2001

Parador Hostal San Marcos - Leon
Plaza de San Marcos
Santiago de Compostela , Spain
987-245061

Parador de los Reyes Catolicos - Santiago Photo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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While the outside of this parador is boxy and plain, the inside contains 4 beautiful cloisters, 2 with fountains, and 2 with gardens. The hallways are decorated with medieval furniture -- ornate trunks, couches, wooden chairs with embroidered cushions. The beds are comfortable and you get tuckdown service in the evening. Each room comes with a nice dish of fruit flavored hard candy and a free Spanish book. The marble bathroom full of toiletries. Although the service is wonderful, it is also somewhat geared toward richer looking, nicely dressed older people, so if you don't look the part, you may be questioned at the door. The hotel does serve the first 10 pilgrims a free breakfast, but they are w...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 8, 2001

Parador de los Reyes Catolicos - Santiago
Praza do Obradoiro
Santiago de Compostela , Spain
(98) 158-2200

Carretas - Santiago

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Restaurant

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Although the background music was old American pop/easy listening and the waiters seemed curt, the food served was excellent. The sauteed green padrons (small peppers) were tender and savory and seemed to be a popular dish. The croquetas (a kind of fried potato dough covered with breadcrumbs and sometimes stuffed with a bit of meat) were excellent, and the home-made seafood stew was delicious -- hearty, well-seasoned, and chockfull of fresh seafood. The main event was a large platter of shellfish (mariscos) that included mini-lobsters, shrimp, crab, and barnacles (this was the only thing that looked unappetizing -- they looked scaly and purple and very alien). This restaurant is located extremely ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 8, 2001

Carretas - Santiago
Rua de Carretas 21
Santiago de Compostela , Spain
(981) 563-111

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The rather plain Basilica is small and lined with confession booths in the back. The Pantheon (attached to it, and accessible from a side entrance) is far more intriguing. For 400 pesetas, you get a tour (in Spanish) of the Basilica's relics, a peek at some very old manuscripts of the Bible (in Latin, with some vivid cartoonish illustrations), and then finally, some time in the Pantheon, which is really a crypt on the side of a cloister. The walls and ceilings have beautiful (and very old) fresco paintings of Biblical scenes (life and death of Jesus), and a wonderful agricultural calendar that shows harvest-time, slaughtering, sowing and more. Once you start the tour, the tourguide leads you up a ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 8, 2001

Basilica San Isidoro and Pantheon - Leon
intersection of Ruas La Torre and Ramon y Cajal
Santiago de Compostela , Spain

Cathedral of Leon (Santa Maria de Regla)

Attraction | "Cathedral - Leon"

Cathedral of Leon (Santa Maria de Regla) Photo, Leon, Spain
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Surrounded by a stone courtyard, Cathedral de Leon has the classic Gothic style exterior with flying buttresses and a unique clockface. From the inside, you can see the beautiful colors of the rosette shaped stained glass windows. These red and blue windows are supposed shine their colors down into the interior on sunny days. There was no sign of this on the rainy day when we visited, but the colors were still brilliant.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 8, 2001

Cathedral of Leon (Santa Maria de Regla)
Plaza de Regla
Leon, Castile-Leon
987-87-57-70

Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela

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Attraction

Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela Photo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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Floods of pilgrims make their way to this final destination point on the Camino de Santiago. This is the place where the body of Saint James is supposed to be buried, and visitors line up to kiss the back of the enormous statue of Saint James which stands on top of his tomb. As you enter the cathedral, you will see a pillar which is decorated with a bust of the saint as well as a bust of the architect Mateo. So many people have put their hand on this pillar that you can see fingermark grooves. The local legend is that if you knock your head 3 times on the head of the bust of Mateo (located on the back of the pillar), you will get some of his artistic talent. His statues, floating around the edges...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 8, 2001

Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela
Praza do Obradoiro
Santiago de Compostela , Spain

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From the Plaza Cervantes, where the diamond-shaped open space surrounds a fountain, it is easy to wander around to discover good restaurants, bakeries, bars, and parts of the university. The narrow windy streets are paved with cobblestones and eventually seem to lead you back where you started at the Plaza. Street musicians playing bagpipes and crowds of pilgrims can be heard in the distance as you escape into the quiet alleyways of the old city.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 8, 2001

Plaza Cervantes - Santiago
Plaza Cervantes
Santiago de Compostela , Spain

Plaza San Martin - Leon

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Attraction

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The oblong space of the Plaza San Martin is lined with bars of all types, and is great for a tapas crawl. Tapas are snacks that come with your drink (red wine and beer are popular choices), but if you want a bigger portion you can order a racion. From the excellent croquetas (perfectly fried breadcrumb exterior, with a tasty soft interior), to ham seasoned with olive oil and red peppers, to potato salad, to pizza, to the classic salty Spanish ham on bread, the tapas crawl was not only budget friendly, but also filling. Some of the bars are also restaurants, so if you're still hungry, you can sit down and order food. Try the Albarino wine, a young white wine that has a somewhat cider-ish taste that ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 8, 2001

Plaza San Martin - Leon
Plaza San Martin
Santiago de Compostela , Spain

Galician cuisine

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Story/Tip

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Seafood is the specialty of the region, but since seafood is only good if fresh, you must be careful with the restaurants you pick in order to have a satisfying meal. Santiago has its own specialty dessert, called the "Torta de Santiago." It's become a little touristy, but a good piece of this torta is sprinkled with powdered sugar, has a soft texture and tastes of almonds. Here are a few sample dishes: Langostinos a la plancha: "A la plancha" means grilled and "langostinos" means prawns. This method of cooking prawns with their heads on gives the prawn meat very good flavor. Merluze a galiciana: This is hake served Galician style, with some oil and paprika...Read More
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When you walk by the tourist shops in Santiago, you will often be offered samples of Santiago's signature cake, called "Torta de Santiago." Despite the cheesy marketing, the cake itself can be excellent, a dense, sweet, almond-flavored cake with a smooth texture, topped with powdered sugar with the outline of a cross on top. The absolute best (and seemingly more authentic) Torta de Santiago can be found at Pan Artesan Atroia on Rua da Troia. While on the expensive side, at 200 pesetas per slice, this cake will cover your taste buds with pure pleasure. If you'd like to purchase a whole cake, you'll need to show up before 2 pm.