When you arrive in Santiago de Compostela after walking the Camino de Santiago, you go directly to the pilgrim’s office to request your compostelana or Compostela, which is the certifícate that has been handed out to pilgrims for the past 1000 years.
It is written in Latin and attests to the fact that you have successfully completed a religious pilgrimage. Here is the text in English. Do bear in mind that it is written in pompous Latin, a bit like lawyers’ language.
The Chapter of this Holy Apostolic and Metropolitan Church of Compostela, custodian of the seal of the altar of the Blessed Apostle Saint James, offers authenticating letters of accomplishment to all the faithful and pilgrims from all the lands of the Earth who, for devotion or by taking a vow, have come to the Church of the Apostle Santiago, Patron and Tutelary Saint of our Country Spain, and makes known to each and all who may inspect this letter that …. [NAME in Latin]…. has devoutly visited this most holy temple for reasons of piety.
In recognition of this I confer this letter, with the seal of the same Holy Church.
Dated in Compostela on the day ….. of the month …… in the Year of Our Lord …..
If you feel that your reasons are not ‘pious’ and are uncomfortable with this religious certificate, the same pilgrim’s office will issue a Cultural Certificate written in Spain in recognition that you have completed the European Union Cultural Itinerary.
Buen Camino to All!
20 Nov 2012 in Camino de Santiago | No Comments
1. La Compostela: Our itinerary qualifies you for the Compostela certificate upon your arrival to Santiago.
2. Semi-independent tour: You choose! Walk alone with the assurance that we’ll take care of you or enjoy the company of others & your knowledgeable guides.
3. Experience and expertise: Your guides are either Spanish or live in Spain year round. This is our home and we love to share it with you!
4. Van supported: No need to carry a heavy pack – let us do the lifting, while you do the walking.
5. Unique accommodations: Charming restored manor homes that offer the best in hospitality, comfort, and location.
6. Great fun – oopppss, that’s 6!
27 Oct 2011 in Camino de Santiago | No Comments
Gracias to all for a wonderful time in Southern Spain’s Andalucia! In addition to the big 3: Cordoba, Granada, and Seville, we also had time for a visit to an olive oil factory, the bullring of Ronda, a horse show in Jerez, and we topped off the tour with a spectacular flamenco show! We also got a few KM’s in to off set those fabulous meals!
Here are some photos from our journey:
23 Mar 2011 in Andalucia | No Comments
“I didn’t order this,” Kay said to me, “but it’s delicious.” She had her fork in a small dish of chick pea stew. It came with the Estrella de Galicia beer she ordered at the end of a day’s walking on the Camino de Santiago.
When you order a drink in a Spanish bar you are invariably given something to eat with it: a tapa. It’s an extra. You don’t pay for it. And it’s part of a culture where drinking without eating is what the English and Germans do: frankly barbarian.
Tapa means cover. Some say the original tapa was a piece of ham laid over your wine glass. When the Inquisition was at its height this showed you were neither Jew nor Muslim.
There are varieties of tapa: a piece of Spanish omelette, ham on bread, mussels, small plates of peas or stewed meat. And if you order a coffee you might get a piece of cake, a biscuit or a little chocolate.
One step up from the tapa is the pincho- pintxo in the Basque Country, where it is a culinary art form. This is a larger, more elaborate mouthful, often held together with a cocktail stick. For a nominal price you can have a little taste explosion with a cracking glass of wine.
The civilised way to spend an evening in Spain is take the evening paseo, or stroll, stopping off along the way to greet friends and share a drink: ir de tapeo. My favourite places to visit the tapas bars are Triana and San Sebastián. San Sebastián I love for the quality of the food. I love Triana, on the south bank of the river Guadalquivir in Seville, for the romance and atmosphere.
Where ever you have a tapa, you are sure to say “Delicious!”
02 Mar 2011 in Exploring | No Comments
This is the number of people that were attended to in the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago. For a closer look at the profile of these pilgrims, please see:
Here is a peek at some of the data:
56% Male / 44% Female
Wheel Chair: 0,02%
Congratulations to the Class of 2010.
22 Feb 2011 in Camino de Santiago, News | No Comments
“Why are there no gypsies in Melide?” my friend from Melide asks me. I shake my head.”Because the people of Melide are more like gypsies than the gypsies themselves.”
I didn’t understand what he meant, until he explained that the people of the town are famous as traders: they will sell you anything!
They have also taken advantage of their situation on the Camino to prosper as a market town. Melide is on high land unsuitable for farming. You are aware of this as you walk across the heathland from Leboreiro to here on the Camino de Santiago walking amongst the gorse and heather. People were not going to get rich from farming in this area.
In the centre of town there is a roundabout with roads coming in from Lugo, Pontevedra, A Coruña and Santiago. As you wait for the trucks to pass, you can understand why this crossroads town became a commercial centre. This was the way to make money. The people of Melide have always been renowned as merchants and traders. They have dedicated themselves to transporting goods from the coast inland and inland to the coast. Right on what was the highway to Castille- the Camino de Santiago- this is still a good place for hauliers. And if you zoom out on the map, the fame of this inland town for its octopus makes more sense. The rugged coast of Galicia is punctuated by estuaries and headlands: if Galicia is a stubby-fingered hand, Melide is in the palm.
As soon as you get to town you start to see octopus bars- the pulperías. With simple wooden benches and tables they are alive with noise at peak hours. In the window you see a copper kettle where the octopus- or pulpo- is cooked to perfection with Galician potatoes: the best in Spain. It is served on a wooden platter- bite-sized chunks of melt-in-the-mouth octopus with perfectly boiled potatoes sprinkled with pimentón. The perfect accompaniment is a glass of ice-cold fruity white wine- the famous Galician Albariño. Like all the best pleasures in life it is simple!
08 Feb 2011 in Camino de Santiago | No Comments
Baths of the Alcazar of Seville.
The scent of orange blossom in spring makes the streets of Seville come alive. It is a pleasure to lose yourself in the shaded streets, peering into oases of calm in the tree-planted courtyards.
Here are some walking routes that take in key sites:
1) Starting at the Giralda, the Cathedral tower, head for CalleSierpes, passing the town hall with its exhuberant plateresque carving. Sierpes was the old silversmiths’ street and still has workshops you can pop into. At the Corte Inglés turn left along San Eloy and head for the river Guadalquivir passing the enormous Dominican convent church. Crossing theIsabel II bridge into Triana you go past the site of the old Inquisition. In Triana turn right into the Alfarería, the old potters´district, then double back to the chapel of the Esperanza de Triana. In Lent she will be decked out ready for the Easter processions. Canaries singing, geraniums on window ledges and winding streets with colourful locals taking a ‘tapa’ in the many bars- all this makes Triana a treat. Come back over the Guadalquivir pausing to admire the Torre del Oro from the San Telmo bridge. Between the river and the Cathedral is where the old shipyards were. On your way back to the Cathedral, stop in at the Santa Caridad the hospice church of a lay brotherhood founded by Miguel Mañara in the seventeenth-century. There is a great painting of a skeleton with his foot on a coffin inside!
2) The Cathedral is right next to the Alcázar, the royal palace, where you can admire the mudéjar and Renaissance ornament and the enchanting garden. As you exit walk past the Casa de Contratación, where all trade with the Americas was controlled for centuries, and head past the old tobacco factory, now the University, the setting of Bizet’s Carmen. Around the corner you will find the entrance tos María Luisa park. Shaded walks between ancient trees will lead you to the Museum of Folk Art with an impressive display of lacework. When you return you can take a walk around the huge Plaza de España monument put up for the 1928 International Trade Fair, with azulejo tiles representing all the regions of Spain. Skirting the back of the Alcázar along Avenida Menéndez Pelayo we enter at the Jewish court at the first turning on the left. You walk past Sta María la Blanca, the former synagogue. Pop in: the gesso work is astounding. Turn left off the road here and allow the winding alleyways to lead you back to the Cathedral. Keep your eyes open for those telling details that make Seville so magical: ancient and mysterious doors, window grilles and patios; local colour.
3) Starting at the Giralda head up past the Archbishop´s Palace into the Jewish quarter. Stop in at San Ildefonso and when you come out take a right that will lead you to the Casa de Pilatos, a noble mansion with attractive gardens, sculpture and tilework. There are more churches and convents on the backroutes that lead you to the Puerta de la Macarena, or you can just enjoy the 30 minute walk through the streets. This is one of the gateways in the city’s enormous defensive walls, a fragment of which remains here. You will also find the Basilica de la Macarena. More than just a dance the Macarena is one of the iconic virgins of Seville. Carved by Luisa Roldán, her mysterious expression has given her thousands of devoted followers who process behind her image in Holy Week. The museum has an interesting exhibit of her processional gowns and the float which is borne on the shoulders of the beefy confraternity men who vie for the privilege of carrying her. On your return head for the Alameda de Hércules, where there is a flea-market on Sundays, and dip into the pretty church of San Lorenzo, then let Calle Jesús del Gran Poder lead you back to the Corte Inglés, Calle Sierpes and then the Cathedral.
4) Go straight to the Museo de Bellas Artes and spend three hours looking at the paintings. With Zurbarán, Murillo and Velázquez as natives of the city the Museum of Fine Art in Seville is one of the finest provincial museums in Spain. You should also take in the sculpture of Martínez Montañés. Popularly known as the ‘God of Woodcarving’, he carved some of the most famous images in the region. It is worth pausing as you look at the exhibits to appreciate the building itself, an elegant Mercedarian convent building, beautifully restored and adapted so as to preserve its original features.
Enjoy the magic of Seville’s Andalucia – a very special place!
11 Jan 2011 in Andalucia | No Comments
A coffee in Andalucia‘s Granada takes away the chill. From the coffee bar you look up and see the snow-capped Sierra Nevada. You feel the cold on your face in the morning breeze and step into a bar near the Cathedral for the warmth.
Just to be in Granada is to feel echoes and resonances from the past. You do not go to Granada to study, but to open your heart and mind to the whispering voices of the past. The great poet Lorca was murdered in Granada. His spirit seems to inhabit the lanes and alleyways: passion, desire, beauty and death. Sitting quietly now with a coffee, looking at the imposing Cathedral façade I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that Lorca was here.
This is where Columbus came in 1492 to present his petition to Ferdinand and Isabella. And the Gran Capitán, Ferdinand’s brilliant, arrogant general who made Spanish arms invincible in Itlay was here. The beauty, pomp and splendour of the monuments and architecture both hide and reveal these historical presences.
The streets of the town are lively with their ghosts, but to feel their presence more deeply you have to go to the Alhambra. It is a dream palace raised over a gorge, with galleries and arcades that lead you to think of paradise. You cannot help but meditate on what the towering cypress trees in the Generalife gardens have seen.
Opposite the Alhambra is the Albaicín, the Moorish quarter. The winding alleyways between low houses look across at the fortress’s picturesque but bleak exterior. I make my way to the top and sit on a bench, still thinking about Lorca. His gypsy spirit squashed by Franco is like a parable or metaphor. As though he were the last sigh of the last Caliph of Granada, Boabdil, who on finally leaving Al-Andalus broke into tears.
07 Jan 2011 in Andalucia | No Comments
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