This post concludes three written to cover our cruise stop in northern Spain aboard Sapphire Princess and the “explore at your leisure” excursion we undertook to the city of Santiago de Compostela. The first post covered our arrival and visit to the cathedral and the second post explored the highly recommended Museo do Pobo Galego.
With about an hour to go before we needed to be back at the coach we decided to prioritise grabbing a drink (preferably something local) in a bar. Figuring that the majority of drinking establishments would be close to the cathedral and main square, Praza da Obradoiro, we headed roughly back in the same direction we’d originally come. There were definitely more signs of life in the city than we’d seen earlier in the day although we didn’t spot anything too enticing at first.
We eventually came upon Praza de Cervantes, a stretched town square surrounded by shops and bars and with a fountain containing a bust of the aforementioned Cervantes himself atop a pillar.
The most prominent building around the square’s exterior was the Church of San Martiño Pinario, most notable for its bell tower under normal circumstances I’d imagine but mostly drawn to our attention by the low stage for musicians that had been set up in front.
Being deductive souls we reckoned there might be some form of performance about to start and keen to see what it might be but also still sate our thirst we settled our eyes on a bar on the corner of the street heading southwards away from the square. This turned out to be a place called Cafe Pub Agarimo. Entering, we found ourselves in a long, narrow room with a bar along one side. We caught the attention of one of the staff and with some pointing at the taps we asked for a beer and a cider. The Cafe Pub Agarimo was doing tapas which we hadn’t realised so there was a moment of confusion as we looked at the bowls of soup that arrived first before we realised everyone was getting them. There was no request for payment so we took our beer and soup into a cramped backroom of the bar that did at least have seats and tables.
We hadn’t been hungry but the soup was simple yet satisfying. We think it was probably a Galician white bean soup with chorizo. I can’t say the drinks we had were anything special but when we’re drinking abroad it’s as much for the experience as it is for the taste. We’d spotted a member of staff going around some of the tables and collecting cash and returning change which led us to believe we’d soon be able to pay for our drinks and surprise lunch but by the time we wanted to leave we still hadn’t been seen to. I decided to pay at the bar on the way out but as we’d been drinking the bar area had filled to standing room only capacity. It took around ten minutes to get “served” in order to actually pay and it would have been insanely easy to leave without doing so, but we are not that sort of people. We’d not checked the prices before ordering our imbibements but they were very well-priced, especially when you consider the included tapas. So, I can definitely recommend Cafe Pub Agarimo but with the caution that if you’re in a hurry to be anywhere keep an eye on how busy the place is and pay as soon as you can.
Back outside we found that Praza de Cervantes had also filled up and the musicians were playing.
The festival was part of the Ascensión Festivities, a yearly event, with us having turned up on the second day. We stood around enjoying the ambience, listening to the music, and firing off a few shots of the people doing likewise for several minutes.
We like a good excuse to drink in the sunshine and listen to bands performing but we were starting to run short of time in Santiago de Compostela so our next task was to hunt down a souvenir shop. This was not a difficult thing to do as you probably could have guessed and we bypassed half a dozen or more before selecting one at random. Mugs, a bookmark, and a shot glass were all picked up for a surprisingly low price although we steered clear of anything with the ubiquitous shell design on it that you’ll typically find hard to escape in the Spanish city.
As we approached the main square from the south we happened upon a nice little square – Praza de Fonseca – with some greenery in it, a little unexpected oasis from the sparse streets and alleys we’d encountered elsewhere throughout the city.
Back in Praza do Obradoiro we spent a short period of time taking a few more photos of the impressive buildings around it including the town hall and cathedral’s western façade. It was particularly interesting to see the number of people, many of whom had probably completed the Camino pilgrimage, simply sitting around, some in contemplation, some in conversation.
It was about time to leave by now, though, so exiting through the north side of the main square of Santiago de Compostela along Rua de San Francisco and towards the church and convent of the same saint we made our way back towards where the coach had dropped us off at Parking Xoán XXIII.
I had just enough time to get sidetracked after spotting some street art near the coach pick-up spot. Though the artwork was more stylised tagging than imagery it was all still of a very good quality.
This concludes our cruise excursion from the Sapphire Princess into Santiago de Compostela. The medieval city was better than we’d expected partly because we came away feeling unfleeced. There’s often a sense when travelling – especially if you’re hitting obvious tourist hotspots – that the prices are inflated and the stuff being peddled is pretty awful but Santiago de Compostela didn’t have any of that; it felt like a generous, trusting, honest place befitting its religious heritage. Very cheap to spend time there and with far more to see than we had time to during our half day it’s a city I’d have no qualms about visiting again or recommending.