This is what it's all about. This is what we'd traveled so far to experience. For me, it was a sort of homecoming. I hadn't entered Compostela for almost ten years. I hadn't walked the sacred streets of the casco viejo with such passion since doing so daily as a missionary for three months in late 1988.
We had made reservations months prior in order to ensure that we would be able to stay in the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos for at least one night. We were pleased to learn that they had a second night available, so we stayed for two. We didn’t care about price. We would deal with sticker shock later. We were overjoyed that our journey was at a conclusion, and that we would be able to enjoy walking around the old city and breathing the atmosphere of a city alive with so much history.
We entered the Plaza do Obradoiro from the left-hand side across from the façade and before checking in stopped and gazed at the cathedral. We high-fived and sought a third party to take our picture.
We entered the Parador and checked in. They allowed us to store our bicycles in their parking structure, which is located right where we entered the plaza. They checked us into room 215. The Parador reeks of style, history, elegance and a singular nature. Although we wanted to spend all of our time exploring the 500-year-old structure, we had other things to do in town first.
We would spend the next two days exploring the object of our pilgrimage. We would need much longer, but we did fine for the short time we had...especially considering that we had one of those days dampened by a trademark Gallego rainstorm.
Once the initial awe wore off, we went to the Oficina de Peregrinaje to get our credentials stamped and to pick up our Compostela. We knew where we were headed for lunch. I knew that Casa Manolo had moved from its original location to the Plaza de Cervantes, which is just behind the cathedral. Casa Manolo has been the site of some of my favorite meals. It is still the most reasonable lunch/dinner in Galicia, and regardless of what a random man in a curio shop told me on our second day, the food is great. The menu is varied, inexpensive, and with the new location, there are more people enjoying it with you. I spoke with the proprietors on our arrival, as it had been ten years since I'd eaten there. Sadly, Manolo has passed on as of 2001, but his wife and daughters still run the kitchen. I highly recommend a meal there while in Compostela. It's at Plaza de Cervantes 1.
Just to the left of the cathedral you'll find the Gelmirez Palace, or archbishop's residence. He doesn't live there now, but at one point, this was quite the domicile. It remains one of the greatest examples of Romanesque civil architecture.