WE MADE IT! Our finally day of hiking was extremely unexciting (the hiking part, not the overall experience). I think a lot of the path is diverted from where it used to be because of safety and sheer number of people walking on the road. So, it wasn’t the most beautiful hike in, it was cold rainy, and completely overcast, but we cruised through those last 12.5 miles.
Though one of the best parts of the walk today had nothing to do with us. I tried to wear my hiking boots for this last little bit, but once we were about 5km away from Santiago I couldn’t do it any longer and had to switch back to my Chacos. We decided that it was a good time to eat some chocolate croissants we packed and take a few minutes to rest. As we sat in front of one of a thousand of Spain’s churches a small bus pulls up with a camino arrow on it. Out pops the driver and then a ton of tourists. The tourists proceed to clip on small day packs and look like they are about to trek along (their grand journey of 3 miles). The driver calls out a “Buen Camino” to them and goes off, leaving them to their own devices. I sat there in awe, trying my hardest not to judge my 800km to their 5km, but it was so hard. My favorite part though, is I looked at Scott and he just smiles at me and goes, “Looks like I’ve been doing the Camino wrong this whole time!” Priceless.
Anyways, after that encounter we boogied all the way through Santiago following the signs to the cathedral. There was kind of an energy pulling us deeper into the city. We started getting toward the center of the historical district and it was absolutely beautiful. We went through a tunnel with a man playing the bag pipes and on the other side was the front of the cathedral. We made it. People were celebrating, taking pictures, hugging, and just staring in contemplation. A few people that we had seen most of the places we stopped the last few days finished at the same time as us and we embraced, took each others pictures and gave congratulations for accomplishing this journey. It was a beautiful experience and the cathedral was perfection.
After we headed to the tourist office to get our Compostela (certificate of completion) and our last stamp in our Pilgrim passport. The line was extremely long but it moved quickly. We both got certificates of completion as well as certificates with out kilometers. It will be a nice reminder of what we accomplished for the rest of our lives. We had a few other errands we needed to run before we got to relax.
We headed to the pilgrim mass first. There is one held at noon everyday in another church because the giant cathedral is currently being renovated. It was nice to take some moments of silence and reflection, but really hard to understand what is going on when the whole service is in another language. The service was short, just under an hour, but beautiful. Something we had to check off our list.
At the beginning of this walk we decided our packs were too heavy to we sent some stuff forward to a man who works in the town center and holds pilgrims stuff for them for a fee. We collected two of our boxes from him and one from the post office. It was like Christmas opening up all our clean unused things that we hadn’t seen for a month. Now the tetris game is on for how we can fit all this stuff back into our packs.
Our next stop was lunch. The cheapest (and most delicious) pizza we could find, and some very average churros. Then we headed back to our Albergue. We spent a little extra money on this one to be right in the city center since we are only here for one night. It has proved to be worth it. Getting around is so easy, and it is really lovely being right in the center of all this beautiful architecture. Our terrace literally opens out to a view of the cathedral.
After our short rest we ventured out to get some souvenirs, see the inside of the actual cathedral and get dinner. The cathedral is being refurbished so there is a lot of scaffolding and loud construction going on, but it was beautiful all the same. Golden sculptures, ornate stone carvings, just the size of it was astonishing. The fact that it is so massive and built so long ago is mind blowing to me.
We headed to our dinner shortly after the cathedral for some Italian food… maybe not the best choice in Spain, but it did the trick. Tried out another churro place and a brownie place, not so great. BUT it was all saved by a delicious snickers gelato on the way back to the Albergue.
Scott watched some shows when we got back and then Kelsey promised to FaceTime us around her lunch today. It was so good to talk to her. Always a good laugh, and I of course begged her to get on the next flight over here. Since she can’t exactly do that, she promised pedicures for when I am back in September for my atrocious feet. I’m just excited to see her again, I think Scott is too!
I’d say that the Camino was maybe not my favorite thing in the world, but we are both very glad we did it. In the next few days I hope to write some posts about packing lists, do’s and don’ts, what we learned, what we wished we knew, and maybe just some answers to general Camino questions (if you have any let me know ASAP).
We did it. Now time to celebrate!
Number of km: 23.4km
Percent paved trail- 23.4km
Percent unpaved trail- 0km
Cities passed through: O Amenal, Amarelle, San Paio, A Lavacolla
Albergue- Albergue Azabache, pillows, sheets, full kitchen, washer and dryer, outdoor space, common space, clothes lines, hot showers, and wifi