Santiago de Compostela - Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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If you are a serious hiker then this is the place you dream about while walking Spain’s Camino de Santiago, but what to do when you finally get there?
Before you arrive the town is seen from a distance which is usually on top of Monte do Gozo, which is 3km away. The ancient city of Santiago de Compostela appears as an intriguing cluster of terracotta roofs and cobbled streets, all leading to the spires of the medieval cathedral at its heart. At this distance it appears almost dreamlike, a fabled mirage on the horizon. That’s exactly what it has been for the many hikers of the world famous Camino de Santiago, a long-distance path, or more accurately collection of paths, that ends in this Galician enclave in Spain’s north-west corner. What happens when you ask anyone who has completed a long distance walk how it feels to reach the end? Well they will likely look wistful, try to sound positive, but paint an anticlimactic finish. Part of the problem is that after days on a long walk, with a mission each day, stopping is disorientating. Reaching Santiago is no exception and there are two reasons.
The first stumbling block is expectation. Google the city before you reach it and you will find no end of beautiful photos depicting its namesake cathedral’s glorious façade basking in the sunshine. Until recently this was not the sight that greeted you. Its Pórtico de la Gloria has, since 2012, been encased in scaffolding while vital maintenance work is slowly undertaken. The completion date was some time in 2018 and most people with experience of Spanish estimates were expecting more like 2020. However in July 2018 the work was completed. The other issue with these images is that in truth it rains here, and I mean a lot. The second reason is that most people don’t actually know what to do when they finally arrive in Santiago, and it’s difficult to find someone to advise you. So while you can’t change the weather, you can arrive, no matter how much of trail you’ve walked, armed with a plan to make the most of it.
So where do you stay?
If you want a top end experience for a taste of post pilgrimage luxury then head to what is frequently known as the ‘oldest hotel in the world’, the five-star Hostal dos Reis Católicos. As well as fine bedrooms, it has six luxurious suites with double rooms from €158 . If you want mid-range then try Hospedería San Martín Pinario which is opposite one of the cathedral entrances. The hotel is housed inside a converted 16th century monastery and your ‘cell’ may be basic but it’s full of character and a fitting way to end any hike on the Camino. Doubles are from €73. If you are on a tighter budget then there are ample albergues. These are cheap hostels that require you to have a pilgrim passport and limit you to one night’s stay. However even pilgrim rooms at this type hotel will be from €30 per person per night. As an alternative try Hospedería Tarela which is decent, well-located and clean, even if the rooms are a little small. Doubles start from €55.
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Page added on: 14 October 2018
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