Day Twenty Six. Santiago

The evening thundershowers really washed a lot of rock and dirt onto the roads and trails. Water must have been running pretty steady and heavy. We had breakfast at the hotel. Toast….pretty normal for breakfast here. We got walking a bit after 7am, knowing we’d have to stop once or twice to get our stamps for the day.

We crossed the highway and worked our way up some hilly roads through smaller villages, stopping at a few cafes for stamps. The trail was relatively quiet, with some groups ahead of us. Then we got to Monte Gozo, and the trail was full again. But this time with people carrying no backpacks, no water, no supplies other than umbrellas. They had gotten off a tour bus and were walking the last 5 kms to Santiago. And there was a lot of them.

The city started to come in to view and then eventually we worked our way down through busy streets, morning delivery trucks and pilgrims to the old town. Once there we found a few familiar faces in the crowds, people we had crossed paths with over the last few weeks. We continued down, following the flechas (yellow direction arrows that mark the entire route) and Camino shells toward the cathedral.

We passed through the tunnel beside the palace and in to the main square in front of the cathedral. And we were there. Right there, after travelling from France, mostly on foot, we were there.

There were people everywhere and we knew the pilgrim office would be busy so that was the first thing we did. And we waited in line, for about an hour, good considering many have had to wait far longer. We both received our Compostela (which is awarded to those who complete the last 100km on foot or 200km by bike or horse) and the certificado (certificate of distance completed) – although the calculations they made on both of ours is a bit off what we think we completed. It’s a big thing. A long road.

We did go to the cathedral and visit the statue of St. James and waited in line to pay our respects (pilgrims hug the statue from behind, touch their brow to the shoulder of the statue and maybe say what they came here to say). From there we went down to pay our respects to the relics of St. James which lie beneath the statue. Tonight we will try to go to the evening mass and hopefully see the giant incense burner swing through the cathedral arches.

The plan now is to bus out to Finisterre, on the coast, to visit the ‘end of the world’. I will be writing some more blog posts here and there before we go home, but for now I’m going to relax and reveal in this achievement, much of which was only possible with the support of my sidekick, Ally, and the support of our friends and family at home.

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