Saturday, October 29, 2011

Memories of a Museo

Museums.  I think if this word was to be in a word association "test", most, if not many would answer dust!  Or perhaps in a kinder moment, simply old or perhaps boring.  I don't know why but it's never been that way for me.  Maybe because they've been a part of my life for nearly as long as I can remember.

As children we were taken (yes some days dragged!) to museums of all sorts.  A favorite was the Trolley Museum in Connecticut.  The Trolley Museum meant being able to climb all over the machinery.  There were trips to other museums with my stateside grandparents.  They lived just outside Philadelphia.  We kids would get to stay for a week, all by ourselves, reveling in being the center of attention.  I remember Omi asking me where I wanted to go each time I was with them.  The answer was rarely anything but the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  One of my all time favorite rooms has a lovely reflecting pool in the center of the gallery.  Sometimes it was hard not to want to play in the water!  Just sitting on the marble bench swinging my feet, next to my Opa, that was fun too.

So I guess, me finding my way into museums in Santiago was just natural.  I wandered thru parts of the Cathedral Museum with Hunter prior to our taking the trip up to the roof.  On my final day in Santiago, as I continued to struggle finding tokens of rememberance for the family back home, I found my feet unerringly leading me to the Museum of Pilgrimage. It is actually incredibly close to the Cathedral and to where I was staying at the Seminario.
The entry fee isn't much.  As a perigrina, with credencial or Compostella even that small fee is waived!  Doesn't get much better than that does it!

The first few rooms were dedicated to pilgrimage in general.  There were examples of different pilgrimages around the world.  In one of those rooms I found this lovely mandala.  

In one of the halls, these tiles were on the ceiling.  I would have loved to have had copies of them.  The beautiful green and the soft ochre tones of the shells...very restful, I think.  Almost like looking at them underwater.

My fascination with columns and capitals continued here in the museum where they were wonderfully displayed where someone like me can truly examine them up close and personal.  This was like a dream come true for me, getting to see them so close and no ladders! Both my feet firmly on the floor. 

Now mind you there was a lot more to be seen there besides capital!  There were arches!!

As beautiful as this is now...worn and weathered, imagine how stunning it must have looked like when the velvet was new!

I had to fight the urge to touch I zoomed in with the camera to compensate!

This is one of the most beautiful paintings, in my opinion!  An absolute jewel.

So, next time your in Santiago de Compostella, and looking for something to do, wander round the corner and have a look see at this lovely little gem of museum.  The staff are very welcoming, although the ones working that day didn't speak much English, they could not have been nicer or more helpful.  I'm including a link to their website so you can find them even more easily.  They absolutely should be on everyone's visit list!

I'm also including the link to the cathedral, and the information about the museum there and the hours are included.

It was in the museum that I finally found things to bring home that felt right.  I bought a cd called Canto de Ultreia.  If I was more talented on the computer, I might even be able to include some of the haunting music from this CD, which is playing as I type here.  I also bought three tiny blue and white plates with a scallop shell on them, one for each household.  Supporting the museum by making these purchases also just felt right to me at this particular time.  They didn't feel like just purchases for the sake of buying something.  They were tangible reminders of my journey, and a way of sharing it with family back home.    Another friend bought rosaries along the way.  Again, a lovely way to bring a piece of the Camino home.  Funny, still haven't been able to go into a mall since I've been back!  Not once.  Several malls!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Up on the Roof!!

The days I spent in Santiago were desperately needed.  They were very special in their own way.  Talking with other pilgrims in Santiago, I found I wasn't alone in that feeling.   To grab a flight straight home seemed simply unimaginable, and in a way wrong.  Even now, months later, I'm really just starting to feel like my feet are on the ground here at home.  As much as they ever may be again!  But then...they weren't exactly on the ground all the time I was Santiago either!

The last time I'd been in Santiago, in '08, I hadn't even known there was a roof top tour.    The tour is currently running at 8 Euros, and is worth every bit of it.  I had the good fortune to get to share my experience with Hunter a terrific young man, a great pilgrim, from Florida.  We'd met on the trail a while back and bumped into each other again, as pilgrims do, in Santiago.  We both enjoy church architecture and art, so sharing it with him was great.

The our actual tour began a 7:00pm with a flight of ancient stairs.   We nearly had to run up those stairs, because I was late! One wrong turn while trying to shop for family and I ended up several blocks over from where I shoulda been.  Not an auspiscious beginning for a tour with lots and lots of stairs.  That however turned out to be the only off moment!

The guide took us up to one of the rooms of the Cathedral Museum, and showed us what would have been a banquet room and gave wonderful explanations of the various carvings and colors that would have filled the room.  Even ceilings weren't left alone.  There is a whole other language being used, a kind of shorthand, that many of us are unaware of these days.  Just as we speak in sometimes unintelligible shorthand while texting, in a way so did the builders and artists who made the cathedral and surrounding buildings.  We may use the phrase IMHO (In my humble opinion!) or LOL (laughing out loud).  When these buildings were being mapped out, you might have been told your "place" in someone's humble opinion by a simple glance around you.  Look up and see plain and few ornaments in your little part of the universe and you didn't need to wonder where you fitted into the larger picture. Then all of this would have been painted too.  While our current sensibilities are accustomed to the tans, taupes, grays and browns, in their time much of the rooms as well as the cathedral proper would have been beautifully painted.  Add then banners of all sorts, tapestries and the rich colored robes and the place would have been a riot of color.  So very different from what we see today, cool and calm and monochromatic.

From these rooms our guide, Andy, took us up yet another flight of steps which brought us to the gallery in the Cathedral itself.  Amazing things to be seen and discovered here, many completely unexpected.  In it's hey day this gallery running around the cathedral would have been where pilgrims spent the night.  All of a sudden the botafumeri clearly is much more than a show stopping ornamental incense burner.  It's essentially a giant room deodorizer!

This pic was taken in '08

Look at the thickness of those ropes!!

Can you imagine waking up in the morning...looking down and seeing this in the cool light of dawn!
Here we also got an incredible up close view of what was once a rose window in the original facade of the cathedral. So sad, at least to me, to see what was once someones beautiful masterpiece pushed aside by a change in fashion.  But that still goes on today, doesn't it, out with the old and in with the new?

This area is off limits unless your on the tour, or one of the lucky people who are working on restorations up here.  This is also turns out to be the attic area of the cathedral.

Imagine this as your workspace!!  Ahh one can dream!
These giant figures are used during feistas! We were told the represent in a humorous
way pilgrims from around the world.
This is how it rests on the person carrying it!
Somehow it looks like the ultimate headache.

Now it was onward and upward to the roof itself.  I had no real idea what it might be like up there.  It was amazing.  The one and only complaint, was of myself, for being silly enough not to inquire about footwear.  I had my crocs on, which were ok, but my hiking shoes would have been much more secure.  Especially for someone who doesn't like heights all that much.

Andy our intrepid guide who patiently answered all our questions.

As you come out of the stair case this is the view that greets you straight ahead.  In clearer weather it must be unbelievable.  Although this cloud cover gave us nice even lighting.

Looking left this is what you'll see. It was funny to see how comfortable some people were up here.  Funnier still how uncomfortable some us were!

Get really brave and start wandering about anywhere...even the ridge line!

Looking down at the Plaza where I'd had a glass of champange
with Arlene the day before, celebrating our arrival in Santiago.

This curved door completely intriuged me.

Look around the city, heck look anywhere in Galicia and you'll see mosses, lichens, flowers and ferns popping out of crevices and clinging to walls.  While I found them beautiful to look at, they worried me.  I was concerned they might be causing damage to the buildings.  Andy our guide assured me that they don't.  In fact he said one of them and I'm not sure which color it was, actually acts in a protective manner for the stone face. You can see at least three colors of lichens, one moss, and two different flowers just on this one piece of ornamentation!
While looking at the building was fun...looking in was almost as much!  Being able to view parts of the great gilded altar from the roof top windows was amazing.  Someone needs to tell housekeeping they missed a spot!

Interesting and understandable, to see how the gold is only on the parts that show! I don't like doing windows either.

This tour was terrific and I truly recommend it to any and all going to Santiago!  But now it's time for a beer, a reward for climbing so high and getting clamy hands and feet!!   I'm off from there...humming me a little James Taylor.!!

Since my friends and family know how much I don't like heights...I had to have this picture taken up there as proof positive!  See I didn't just send my camera up with Hunter!