I have a terrible nights sleep, but I’m not sure why. There were thunderstorms in the night, but that doesn’t normally effect my sleeping. The surf is small, and the weather grey and cold. I decide to drive to Santiago de Compostela.
The drive is picturesque and smooth, passing over the mountains I have been driving up, down and around for weeks. The signposted route to Santiago, avoiding the toll motorway is via a minor road that I thought too small to take. I decide to follow the sign posts, as the route is much shorter. The road, the N-634, is OK, although rough in several sections, probably due to the many freight vehicles on this road.
I stop on the fringe of Santiago. I do not have an address for the campsite so I try the signposted tourist information office. It is closed. As I return to the van it rains so hard I get wet instantly. Bugger. I head to the road where the Rough Guide says to turn off for the campsite. I find a sign and follow it. I check in to the campsite.
I take a walk to a commercial centre shown on the campsite map. The shops are mainly clothes and travel agents, and not of much use to me. I head into the city centre. It is a 2 mile walk, but goes quickly, and I enjoy it. Initially I find Santiago a little dull and faded. The outer city is like any other growing Spanish town. A dirty fringe of old houses, surrounded by modern high rise. I notice the famous Cathedral through the gaps in the buildings and head over. It is an impressive site, and over 1000 year old. I go inside and walk around. I sit in the pews and watch people, come, pray and leave. Many people are deeply affected by the cathedral, which is one of the holiest in Europe. Said to hold the remains of Saint James (Santiago) the cathedral is the end of the long pilgrimage across the north of Europe for Christians. I sit for quite a while watching the various people and taking in the ornate features of the building.
I leave the Cathedral and walk around the old town. I have a beer at a café. I stroll down the hill and literal stumble out into the bustle of the new town. The new town has been built surrounding the old town, as if it where a different place. There are shops galore. There are many students, due to the popular university. Many of the students are carrying cases, suggesting that term is just about to start. It doesn’t escape my attention that many of the students are fine looking girls. I also notice the Spanish trait of big arses! I walk just about every street of the new town. I still haven’t found a camping shop. I find a recommended book shop, which is massive. I would like to buy a Lonely Planet guide to Portugal. The shop has seemingly every Lonely Planet guide, in English, except Portugal. I ask the store owner if they have it, and he disappears. He returns saying no. I find a few other book shops, but none have it either. I stroll further and head into the old town again. I notice some dark clouds rolling over. I decide to head back and eat my pasta from last night, rather than waiting for the Tapas bars to open. I haven’t had Tapas on this trip yet, but am keen to. I have a coffee before heading back. I am more confident with my Spanish, using it always. I have learnt new words from my CD, which has helped.