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Day 47 - Enigmatic Fiesta

Wed 1st Nov., Ourense

Today, I discovered entirely by accident, is a public holiday for All Saints' Day. It's also known by the name All Hallows' Day (and others), and from that comes the name Halloween (perhaps more properly called Hallowe'en before it became such a commercialised practice as we in much of the western world today know it to be).

Anyway, it's very clear that the Spanish - at least here in Ourense - get right into their Halloween, as you'll see in a while.

But let me go back to the beginning of Halloween (yesterday) and its dramas (I was not ready to tell this story at the time of yesterday's post). We arrived into Ourense yesterday not by foot as originally planned, but by train. As you know we'd taken ourselves off-Camino for a few days, and so yesterday was the day to get back to where and when we were originally meant to be. And then the external forces of disruption intervened. Janet hadn't been feeling 100% that morning, but not so bad as to not head off. So there we were on a commuter train heading off to catch the super fast train to Ourense, surrounded by a bit of a commuter crowd, and I look around just in time to see her slump to the carriage floor, only semi-conscious. Luckily we were just pulling into a station, so I managed to get her off the train and onto the platform. I'll spare you the detail of the next couple of minutes, but by that time a station official had arrived, along with a security guard. Their caring attitude was wonderful, even though there wasn't much they could do. Obviously there was also a language barrier to navigate. I noticed, briefly, a man who had been next to us before she fainted. He'd obviously got off the train with us, and I think was explaining to the officials what had happened. This all happened in the space of just a few minutes. When I turned to look for him again he'd gone, hopped on the next train I guess - I wish I could have thanked him.

Anyway, a couple of trains later we decided to give it another go. When the next train arrives the official and the guard cleared a seat for Janet, held the train until she was settled, and we were on our way. My eyes filled with tears at their kindness, which in all the pandemonium I was unable to properly thank them for. The tears are back again as I write this.

Sadly, we had a repeat performance two stations later, this time with slightly cranky security guards when we got too close to the edge of the platform. All's (sort of) well that ends well, and we made it here.

She's/we're OK now, but it was all pretty scary at the time.

She wasn't all that keen on stopping for an AVE selfie ...

To round that out, she's slept for most of the last 24 hours. I'm happy to fully abandon the rest of the walk now, but tomorrow we'll make that call.

Which brings me to last night and today. We are staying in the old town as we nearly always do. Unknown to me, Halloween is a really big deal here, and most of the celebrations were in the street below our window. Below are a few shots and videos:

Lastly, to finish this set, two photos. Same place, different times:

The little red shop sign halfway down on the right is the anchor point.

So why today's title? I'd always been under the impression that Halloween was a Celtic pagan festival, or at least that that was its roots. Maybe, maybe not. But Spain is nominally a Catholic country (52% in 2023 census [down from 68.5% in 2018], 17% practicing, 35% non-practicing). A public holiday's a public holiday, irrespective of religion, but I couldn't help ponder the juxtaposition of a nominally religious country taking a day off to celebrate a pious event having spent the whole night before kicking up their heels in a possibly pagan festival. And I have to say that as I wandered around this morning I did notice more than a few of the walking dead making their ways back to their caves.

Like many big Spanish cities, Ourense has a vibrant old town built around a caterdral, with a modern city. This morning, while Janet slept, I went exploring, and then this afternoon she felt well enough to join me on a visit to the cathedral. Some photos:

The Ponte Romana is impressive, and I particularly liked the explanatory sign which advised that it's from the 1st, 13th, 17th and 19th centuries. I didn't try to work out which bits were which!!

What's not all that obvious from the two still photos above is the speed at which the River Minho is flowing, nor how high up its banks the waters are reaching. Methinks it may be in minor flood

The amazing architecture of the Ponte do Milenio. It's a traffic bridge, with pedestrian access on both sides. The U/dip structure is amazing. Off the main bridge you can climb (walk/stairs) either down the dip or up to the crest. In this photo people can be seen on the top left. And if anyone is at all curious, no I didn't ...

We visited the cathedral this afternoon. Quite a lovely old building dating back to the 12th century. It's been damaged by wars/feuds over the years, and at times falling into disrepair.

The Pórtico del Paraíso (the above two) is quite fascinating, and almost impossible to photograph. You can see it better at the official website here.

This book, El Incunable de Monterrey, was the first book published in Galicia, in 1494. I'm not exactly sure of its liturgical significance, but just to see a 500+ year old first edition is fascinating.

The main altar-piece was amazing in its ornate-ness (is there such a word?).

Ourense from the belltower. One of the 8 bells (a small one) chimed when we were up there. Noisy would you believe ...

The good lady feeling better we extended our stroll ...

A certain likeness??

Ourense is a hilly town, and there's a 7-section travelator from the bottom of one of the main streets. We certainly found it handy yesterday when she hardly had the energy to stand up let alone walk, and I was lugging two backpacks at 20kgs+

But today it was a easier - see below:

A Roman/modern bridge selfie, to end the stroll ...

And lastly, all being well, this is what tomorrow holds ...

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