Back to Spain; Back to Santiago

After two years and four months, it was time to return to Spain. Edie Morrill and I both had airline tickets that Iberia Airlines had extended over and over and they were set to expire in March. The time was right for a trip to Santiago to look at some potential Anglicn Centre sites and scope out overseas travel in a Covid world before our Easter on The Camino Tour in April.

What follows will be an overview of our trip . Look forward to expanded reports of various aspects of our week long trip to Santiago, Muxia, Finisterre and Madrid.

Flying to Spain was mostly straightforward as long as you folowed the guidelines. We were required to fill out a Covid vacination form and submit it to Iberia for entry into Spain. Once we cracked the code, we were sent a QR code which we needed to present before boarding, going through Customs and random other places. The plane was mostly full and totaly masked. The Madrid airport was the usual adventure trying to get from place to place. Have yet to make a perfect trip from the plane to baggage check but wherever we end up the colors and architecture are spectacular.

Edie was chosen for a random rapid test which caused us to miss our flight to Santiago but allowed us to see first hand the Covid innovations in the airport and in the lounge, including a clever automated wine dispenser.

Easy flight to Santiago. The Gallician health form that we were required to fill out was never looked at nor asked for. Looking at the Obradoiro Square and the Cathedral I was struck by several things. First, the Cathedral is free of all of the scaffolding that has covered it for the last few years. Newly cleaned, it is beautiful. Second, the sky is as blue as ever and third, there were virtually no pilgrims in the plaza. While there are fewer pilgrims walking in the winter, in our five days in Santiago we fewer than a dozen pilgrims.

Quick check in we were of to Santa Susana to meet Bishop Carlos, Bishop of the Espanish Episcopal Church, Father Colin Patchen, Vicar of the Santa Susana congregtion, Mother Anna Noon,member of our “Friends” delegation and recent Camino walker, Archdeacon David Waller, Archdeacon of the Anglican Church in Europe and member of the Anglican Chaplaincy program for Santiago and Gary Snider, a American layman who is very involved in the Santa Susana congregation.

Following Mass, we adjourned for a “meet and greet”. While we all knew each other via email, Whats App or Zoom , we had not actually met in person. In good Spanish style we had a fine night of wine and tapas in the fittingly named Taberna Episcopo.

The following morning we met for a productive two hours ways ways that the Church of Spain, Santa Susana’s, the Anglican Chaplaincy of the Church of England and the Friends of the Pilgrim Centre could find ways to word more collaboratively in a shared pilgrim ministry.

From there we were of to the Archives of the Cathrdeal for a tour led by Father Francisco Guide. Father Francisco if the Ecumenical Officer and Archivist of the Cathedral. We saw ancient liturgical maunscripts, a library of all music that has been performed in he Cathedral, ancient musical instruments and song books.

For the next two days we visited properties in Santiago. We saw some with real estate and others that were unused propertires of the Archdiocese of Santiago. None was suitable for our Centre.

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We gathered again for the Pilgrims Mass at the Cathrdral. Bishop Carlos vested and the rest of us joined the congration of about fifty people, including a Scotsman who began on January 1st and had ridden his bicycle to Santiago. He said it was a cold trip! Again, the newly restored interior of the Cathedral is bright and shiny. The angels holding up the baldachin are eyepopping to say the least.

We sp ent the next morning looking at more buildings with no better luck. Our next task was going from shop to shop buying 250 shells to give away at the CEEP Conference to those who visit our booth or attend our Lunch and Learn presentation. Edie and I ended our day taking a tour of the roof of the Cathedral. Naturally it was the only time during our stay in Spain that it rained. Tours of the roof are only given hourly in the afternoon. There is no elevator to the roof and tours are only given in Spanish. But even for a coward like me, the views are amazing and the tour is a must if you are in Santiago.

Happily, the sun and the blue sky reappeared Friday morning and we snapped one last picture of Anna in the empty plaza before picking up our rental car and heading to see one last property which we had been told about at dinner our final night in Santiago.

Here are a couple of photos of the last bulding we saw in Santiago before we headed off to Muxia and Finisterre. Ironically we were met by the same real estate team that had been showing us some of the other building. It was love at first site and you will hear more about it in a subsequent report. From the location to the size to the gardens , yes three o the view out the window, it flt like our prayers had been answered. Time will tell but we went away elated.

Onward to Muxia. Edie drove, Anna charted our course and I gave probaly too many instructions on navigating round abouts from the back seat. In Muxia we peeked ino the Santuario da Virxe Da Barca. Angels surrounding the nave, each one holding up a different type of fishing vessel. We climbed on the rocks and collected, rocks, soil, clay and moss to send to Christine Hales who wants to use pigment made materials found along the Camino.

Finished our day in Finisterre with a glass of champagne and the usual beautiful sunset.

Saturday- Back to Santiago and on the new fast train to Madrid. Three and a half hours instead of the usual five. Just enough time for us to sort out the photos we will use for our Lunch and Learn CEEP presentation.

Sunday morning, Anna and I vested for the eucharist at the Cathedral with the Bishop. It was good to be there again and our old friends. As always we were treated to the generous hopspitality of the Bishop and his wife, Ana.

Anna left us Sunday night and flew back to the US. Edie and I took advantage of a free day. Since it was Monday all of the museums were closed so we shopped at our favorite haunts and ate at the wonderful San

One last thing on our to do list. Off to get our Covid test and certificate which we must have to get on the plane back to the US. We passed.

No trip to Madrid should miss a night of Flamenco at Las Carboneras in Madrid and thanks to Joanna Wivell and Quique, we had a table for the packed Valentines night show. Breathtking is an understatement.

And then it was over and we were back in the US, unpacking and repacking for a drive to Atlanta Georgia and the CEEP Conference complete with new banner, tee shirts, socks, fans shells and masks!

More on all of this to come. Buen Camino. Nancy

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