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Clare
Clare

Day 1: Home to Santiago de Compostela

It's always hard finding cheap flights for bank holidays which correspond to school holidays and this year seemed particularly difficult. When I was just about despairing of finding anything, I came across cheap flights from Gatwick to a place I'd never heard of:  A Coruña. The flights were £73 each return, which was by far the cheapest I'd found for this weekend. The only catch was that the flight out was at 06.20, from Gatwick.

In the absence of other options I went ahead and booked, but when I booked the airport parking for 4am I started doubting whether I'd made a good decision. In the end we solved the problem by booking a hotel a few hundred metres away from the car park for Thursday night. We travelled down on Thursday night after work, had an early night and got up at 03.45 on Friday morning to head to the airport.

We were flying with an airline called Vueling, which we'd not used before and which seemed like it might have the ability to make Ryanair look fancy. As we queued to board we had to listen to repeated announcements about how we weren't allowed to put our bags in the overhead lockers unless we'd paid extra for a ticket that came with that privilege. Plenty of people did seemed to have paid for that, so boarding didn't proceed any faster than normal.

We took off with a bit of a delay, closer to 07.00 than 06.20. That turned out to be the least of the problems our flight was facing when the pilot suddenly announced that it was debatable whether we were actually going to land at A Coruña. Apparently it was too misty there and so there was a chance we'd have to divert to Santiago de Compostela instead. The pilot said we'd fly in the direction of A Coruña and he'd keep us updated.

When we reached A Coruña it honestly didn't look that misty! We circled above the airport for a while, waiting to see whether the weather was going to improve enough to land, but in the end it didn't. A lot of passengers were quite disgruntled when the pilot announced that we were going to divert to Santiago de Compostela after all, but I was secretly quite pleased. Santiago is where we're overnighting on this trip, so we had only been planning to land in A Coruña and take the train there. It looked like we were now being saved the effort of finding the train station :)

When we eventually landed in Santiago de Compostela we weren't sure how to actually get to the town centre. We sat and had a coffee in the airport cafe while I googled and established that there was an airport bus after 20 minutes, the 6A. Tim asked at an info desk and discovered that the bus fare into town was only 1 euro each. Definitely a bargain!

It took half an hour or so to travel from the airport into the town. We got off in the centre when we saw a crowd of other people getting off and that turned out to be a good decision, because we seemed to be on the edge of the old town.

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We made our way to tourist information and acquired a map, which showed us that we weren't far away from Santiago's main attraction: the cathedral.

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A church was first built on this site, which is reported to be the burial place of St James, in the ninth century.

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The present-day cathedral building primarily dates from the 18th century.

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Santiago de Compostela is a place of pilgrimage and hundreds of thousands of people still hike here every year.

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All the squares surrounding the cathedral were certainly very busy.

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When we walked into the main Praza do Obradoiro there were lots of people who looked like they'd just come to the end of a very long walk!

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From this side you could really see how huge the cathedral is.

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The square itself was very attractive too, with impressive buildings on every side.

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There were lots of flags flying; the blue and white one belongs to the autonomous region of Galicia, while the burgundy one is the flag of the city.

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Around the back of the square we found another, smaller church.

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This one was really pretty too...

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...though the main star of the show is definitely the cathedral!

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It was after midday by this point, so we began wandering the side streets looking for somewhere to eat. We soon found a reasonably priced restaurant where we were able to sit outside and have lunch; I had spaghetti bolognese while Tim went for a schnitzel.

The message I'd had from booking.com said we'd be able to check into our apartment at 14.30, which meant we still had a little bit of time to kill. We went for a walk in a nearby park while we waited.

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The park turned out to be really lovely!

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Not only did we find fountains, beautiful trees and another church...

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...but we soon found ourselves at a fantastic viewpoint.

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And that wasn't even the best viewpoint in the park; as we circled around back to where we'd started, we discovered an even better viewpoint from where we could look back towards the cathedral :) 

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After getting up at 03.45 I was keen to get to the apartment and have a nap. It was only 10 minutes away and we arrived there pretty much bang on 14.30. We followed the instructions I'd been sent to get inside the building, located our apartment... and found that it was still in the process of being cleaned :( 

Oh dear! Luckily the apartment has a terrace so we sat out there while the cleaners finished. It ended up being a wait of over half an hour!

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I wasn't very impressed, but once we got inside it did turn out to be a nice apartment. As well as a bedroom...

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...we've got a nice little living room.

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I was definitely in need of a nap by this point, then spent the evening enjoying the sunshine on the terrace. Not sure the weather is going to be quite as nice as this tomorrow, but it's been lovely to see Santiago de Compostela with blue skies today :)




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