Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Santiago de Compostela--Avila, Salamanca, Santiago, Leon

(March 4-8)

This trip was to the north west of Spain. That area is the wettest part of the entire peninusla and gets a ton of rain. But, amazingly enough for us, we were there an entire week and didn't even see a drop. We really luck out on the weather.

Our first stop was in Avila to see the cathedral and outer walls. Avila has the best example of medieval walls in Spain. It was pretty amazing too. There were around 88 of the turret-type things. And it was extremely fun because we could climb ontop of the wall and into the towers. Needless to say we loved it--myself included. We never pass up an opportunity to climb things and be adventurous. The wind here was incredibly strong and cold, so climbing up between the crevices was even more adventurous than normal. But that definitely didn't stop us.

We then moved on to Salamanca which is a university town. They have one of the five oldest universities in the world. And they definitely have stories to go along with it.

The facade of the cathedral there had been restored and someone thought they were extremely clever and put in some rather modern adjustments. Look familiar?

And then in the facade of the university there's a hidden frog. It's said (well at least the BYU version) that if you find it without help, you will get married within a year. I think the general one is just luck in marriage. Appropriately so, the engaged girl in our group found it first. I was probably the fifth or sixth. Who knows what that means. Can you find it?
At night we strolled throughout what felt like the entire city. We found the old Roman bridge and took some pictures. But it was freezing here as well, so before long we headed back to the hotel where we packed as many people as possible in a room to watch a movie or Scrubs.

Next was a stop at a little coastal town where Fernando, our bus driver for almost all our trips, thought we'd enjoy ourselves. And he was right. It was along the Atlantic coast and was beautiful. Jumpy pictures have become extremely popular in our group and this was a perfect opportunity. Plus it was really nice to get out of the bus. And I found an amazing shell. It's the symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago. There were shells similar to this all over Santiago--including the cathedral.

It took all day to get to Santiago, and by then we were starving for dinner so we went out for Chinese food. Yep, Chinese food in Santiago. It was absolutely delicious.
The cathedral in Santiago has my favorite exterior out of all the cathedrals we've seen. Because it's so humid and wet in this area there's moss growing all over the building. Normally cathedrals seem so intimidating and slightly menacing. But this one was different. There were signs of life on the cathedral. It made it more realistic and . . . real to me. Well, that doesn't really make any sense, but there it is anyway.
So, that night we decided to watch the sunset. We saw a distant hill/mountain and decided to climb it. I'm proud to say that we did. Through a lot of guess work and climbing, we made it to the perfect location to watch the sunset on Santiago. It must have been funny to watch us because there were around 16 people just walking through town and then hiking up a rather steep hill. But the hike was worth it. It was incredibly beautiful.
Our last stop was in Leon. This city was incredible. The cathedral was relatively normal from the outside but when you walked in, your were immediately surrounded by stained glass. It's said that there is more glass than stone in the top half of the building. It must be true because every thing was beautiful glass. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed.
We then explored Leon. We went in search of a park and found an amazing playground. This is the type of equipment the US has banned as being too "dangerous". Needless to say, we had an absolute blast climbing all over this rope spider-web aparatus. It was great fun.
We also found the open market in a massive plaza. This place was packed with food stands and people. There was so much going on at once. There were so many colors, noises and smells that it was definitely an experience just to walk around.

1 comment:

M&M Kanet said...

Wow Erika, I am WAY jealous that you get to be there! What a wonderful, life changing experience! That is so neat. I'm glad that you're having a wonderful time!