Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 20 - The Tourist Train

The 6 Euro Tourist Train
The other day I planned to go to the library only to find out that they had recently changed their hours and were now closed for the day at 2pm. As I left I was trying to decide what to do with the extra time I now had on my hands. Sure, I could have gone back to my apartment and studied, or even worked on the editing of a paper I plan on submitting for presentation in the fall... but it was a beautiful and warm day for once and I didn't want to miss out.

As I was walking through the Praza do Obradoiro, thinking about where I would go, I saw my answer. That silly little tourist train that I kept seeing throughout the city was parked right in front of the Cathedral. It was preparing to set off on another one of its hourly tours and I thought, "What the heck?" and bought a ticket.

For 6 euros the train will take you on a narrated tour of Santiago in both Spanish and English. It points out many interesting sites along the way and even gives a bit of history and background these places. It's a pretty relaxing way to see different parts of the city.

However, if I were writing a travel guide and decided to mention this particular attraction, I wouldn't recommend it for most people. If you have trouble walking around but would still like a little insight to certain parts of Santiago, then this is for you. But if you are able to walk even a modest distance or you are particularly interested in the older part of the city, I would skip it.

A so-so shot of the Cathedral

The train itself is long and I am assuming that is why it does not travel to the inner area where the older structures are. Or perhaps the tour believes that people will have walked through there already and just want to see the outer edges of the city. And it's not that the information here isn't interesting, it is; or that you don't see things you normally wouldn't see, you do. It's just that it's really hard to get a good view of these things as the train moves along. Also, if you only understand English, you may struggle a bit to understand the guide or receive an abridged version of the Spanish information. And you may even have missed the site that is being described since it can be difficult for the guide to repeat the information in time.

I have included some of the "pictures" that I took during the tour. As you can probably tell, taking pictures of the sites is not always easy either. All in all, I'd probably give the tourist train 2 stars out of 5. One for taking you to places you might not see and the other for providing an attraction to those who do not wish to or are not able to walk around much.

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