and they have these wonderful little signs to show you the way (OK not all are bars or pharmacies but they are all so darn cute I couldn't resist). There are also hidden gardens
And then there is the place where all roads lead.
La Catedral de Santiago or the Cathedral of Saint James where the Apostle is said to be buried.
The story gets better. Many centuries ago when the remains of the Apostle were buried here (and you can read all about it here) people throughout Europe began pilgrimages to this site, Catholics that is. The pilgrimage continues to this day and people from all over the world take part in it. It was originally a religious pilgrimage which was deemed "El Camino" or "The Way"; it was primarily begun at your own front door, walking until you reached the Cathedral and the tomb of the Apostle. These days the pilgrimage has several starting points throughout Europe with the most notable being in France, in the Pyrenees, near the northwestern corner of Spain. However, there are different known routes starting in Bilbao, Seville, Portugal and other parts of Spain. Most people walk "the way",
but it is perfectly acceptable to ride a bicycle or a horse or donkey (they did it this way centuries ago) and I actually read you can do it by car! Which means we did it since we drove from Bilbao! OK, that's suuuuuch cheating. It is also not necessarily a religious pilgrimage anymore, a lot of people do it to find themselves or "the way". (This movie is a beautiful example of what it's all about). Regardless of the reason or motive, everyone ends here.
Where they are enthusiastically and warmly welcomed by the Archbishop of Santiago.
When we started planning this trip I spoke to an old friend of mine, we've been friends since I was 8, whose family comes from Galicia and she has visited many times so I asked her for suggestions. Among the many that she gave me about places to visit in the area she told me that if I was lucky and went to mass in the cathedral I may see the "Botafumeiro" (incense burner) at work. She had never seen it and had tried to find out when they put it to use but the schedule is not really set...almost at random so that I should maybe try and go to Sunday mass. I didn't go on Sunday since I figured it would be packed. On Tuesday morning we decided to go into the cathedral to see it and see the tomb of the Apostle. We walked in to find all the pews filled and a sense of anticipation. Since there was no place to sit we started walking towards the main altar
then the voice over the loudspeaker came on again asking for no flash photos or video, she also said "this isn't an oddity, please don't see see it as a tourist attraction, please see it as what it is something to make your spirit soar!"
and one priest gave it a push just as a swing at the park, and eight priests started to pull on those ropes, and it swung, and it swung, and it swung, higher and higher and higher and higher and higher each time
with that smoke and aroma just filling the air, almost hitting the 90 foot ceiling, over and over and over again. And it soared, and soared and soared.....and so did every spirit there at the place where all roads lead.
Adios Espana, hasta la proxima.