Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Santiago de Compostela

The last days of our vacations are always great but sad. Running all over to make sure we get that one last gift, one last photo and one last look. We always leave something behind for next time.
Santiago de Compostela is extra special. Everywhere you turn your head you see a view that's amazing! Its hard to imagine a city of all hand cut stone and because of that, You will need to see it in person. Its waiting for you.
Our trip was a total success. Every day was the total adventure we had expected. Hard riding, great food and wonderful, friendly people. I can't remember one sour puss, but we tend to forget those folks anyway.
The tandem is such an attract for meeting new people. Most could not believe that anyone would attempt this route of the Camino de Santiago on such a beast. At stops we started people smiling. The Women especially as if they were imagining themselves on the back whizzing through the countryside. Whenever they would ask anything, I would say, "Yes!", not being really sure what they were asking most of the time, but it always seemed to work.

One of our all time favorite things to do in Santiago is to go listen to a guitarist by the name of "The Jazz Man of Santiago" We tell him that's its the only reason we come there. All though its partly true, It always gets a smile from his mask. His mask keeps him somewhat anonymous and has you listening to the music instead trying to figure out the man by his age, eyes and face. It also makes it fun to watch people walk by with their mouths open when they see such a sight.

This year the Cathedral's main 2 towers were in scaffolding. covered with cloth, they had taken the time to paint in mural form what they sort of looked like underneath. The inside of the Cathedral also was filled with scaffolding. It was hard to see mostly anything without seeing the massive work project going on. We were never told that it was being worked on, and only discovered it when we rolled into town.
The photos below of the Cathedral were taken on our trip in 2008. I thought it would be best to have in this blog photos to show how beautiful and grand the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela really is.

The photos of the big guy and his wife with the tandem were taken on our last afternoon. We found them in the little square pictured. They had just finished the Southern Camino known as the Via Della Plata. A super hard and poorly marked route with lots of bicycle walking. She was disabled and there rig with the trailer must have weighed over 300 pounds. He helped her walk when they went off to shop. Just when you think that things are tough, there is always someone who has it tougher! We are sure he is a true saint capable miracles!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Camino Certificate

We arrived at the Pilgrim office shortly after breakfast. The line at that time was stretched out the door and not moving.
It was a sunny beautiful morning, so standing in line wasn't bad. Stories of the road were heard as the group stood there, hardly moving.

One of the people from the office told us that the line was an hour and a half long. After about an hour we really had not moved a bit.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Final Day to Santiago

We started out on a beautiful sunny and cool morning. Too warm for tights, but perfect for a wind breaker. Not a cloud in the sky!
This is our 17th day on the road and so far the best starting weather we have had.
Because at the town we are starting at trails merge from the south and our route. because of it, we were going to see lots pf Pilgrims all day long.
First things first, we headed into town to get a stamp for our passports. Almost all the way filled with stamps, any chance we can get now, we will stop
. The towns square had the most magnificent fish shop. Simple and clean. I had to stop just to take a look. Being the very best town in Spain for Octopus, I was expecting to see at least a few. Check out the photos below. It looked great!

Once on the road we started passing Pilgrims. Mostly older folk getting a late start as we were too.
There are many stops along the way for pilgrims to stop and buy things. I'm sure there are more in season, but we had never seen anything like it in the past. We figured it was because how popular the Camino has become.
We crossed a little stream with a high stone bridge. A fellow ran up and pointed to my shoes and said, no good! He grabbed the front of our tandem and helped me across. It was then I noticed he only had one leg.
We were not sure exactly of his story, but he had lost his leg in a accident. He was from Romania and had a little stand selling T shirts and stamping Passports with his stamp and sealing wax. Of course we left him with some change.
Our ride was hilly and sunny. Not too hot and the perfect route for older Pilgrims to just do the last part into Santiago.

All day long we passed Pilgrims. Hundreds. There were large groups at times and now I just rang the bell to pass, slowly. They all seemed to not mind us being on the trail and one yelled out, "That's the way you do it!'

Climbing all day long, we reached the outskirts of Santiago around 5:30. The streets were crowded with cars. Cobble stones are hard to ride on and speeding cars that you feel, don't like Pilgrims, make the final mile tough.

The view of the first tower is such a relief! Knowing whats in store and to simply park the bike.

Our tandem did well. Two broken cables and 3 flats. The timing chain fell off once. We beat the crap out of our poor bike and it just kept working. The best thing we ever did was to change the gearing. The 24 tooth chainring became a close friend! The easier hill climbing made most of the steep smooth climbs doable.

The last days ride we climbed 3000'. Mostly off road.

Would we do this again! Most likely Yes, but not for at least another month.

Here are some of the photos from our last day to Santiago: