Santiago de Compostela

Ornate hedges in the centre of Santiago de Compostela

Ornate hedges in the centre of Santiago de Compostela

Local musicians on their way to a performance

Local musicians on their way to a performance

Alain gets his Compostela

Alain gets his Compostela

It was good to awake at the final destination! I had slept so well. The guest house unfortunately advised me in the morning that she had double booked and would I mind moving to a friend of hers just round the corner? Not a problem. I packed up as quickly as usual. I thought nothing of the today’s walk. It was only 150m to the next albergue!! The shortest day’s walk for a long time!

The new guest house was equally friendly and the owner, Esvina, was a wonderfully kind lady. She apologised for her friend moving me into her own home. It seemed like there are many in Santiago de Compostela who are used to the constant stream of pilgrims and together they help every pilgrim find a warm bed for the night. A wonderful spirit of community exists in this town.

I made my arrangements to stay for two more nights as I would be exploring the town before setting of for Finisterre. It was great to have a base for at least a couple of days and hoped the inertia would not be too difficult to overcome.

Without a rucksack I felt so light as I wandered around the ancient city. I saw a few familiar faces and chatted as I went. I met up again with Alain who had just obtained his Compostela. He was relieved, and proud of his achievement. Everyone was ecstatic at arriving at their final destination. The sheer luxury of being in one place for the next two days was so relaxing and stabilising. I still had to think of the final stage of the journey to Finisterre. I found a good internet cafe and checked the flights to Edinburgh. There was no rush. Tomorrow I would summon the courage to book a flight back to ‘my reality’.

Plaza del Obradoiro

Plaza del Obradoiro

There was a special spirit in the city. With so many pilgrims, it had an atmosphere of the original form of tourism. The basic coming and going of people on their way to somewhere else having come from so far. Everyone was friendly and accepting of the reasons why the pilgrims were there. I started queueing to visit the Cathedral and the tomb of the Apostle of Saint James. There were too many people! I would try again another day.

Instead I went to the Pilgrim Mass. There were hundreds of people sitting and standing in every part of the grand Cathedral. The Mass was to welcome the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, though most present were motorised pilgrims. It was a lot more special knowing that I had actually walked there. Standing beside me was a familiar face. We looked at each other for a moment then could not believe it. It was Gérald who I had last seen in Varaire many weeks ago! It was great to see each other again. We were told to be quiet by a church warder! He had only just arrived and did not look so fit and healthy as he did then. He had had a difficult journey. We met later and had a great lunch together with some of his friends. Tomorrow he would return to Hagetmau in Landes, France.

It was raining on the Plaza del Obradoiro

It was raining on the Plaza del Obradoiro

That evening there was a crowd in The Plaza del Obradoiro. Two buskers were singing in the archways of the square. It was no busking experience. They were two of the best opera singers I have heard and they perfectly complemented the grand square and the Cathedral. It was wonderful to watch their performance.

Galician bag pipe player in Santiago

Galician bag pipe player in Santiago

The rest of the evening was spent absorbing the atmosphere of the town. The sun eventually set and the emotional tiredness overcame me. Last night had been a night of celebration. Tonight would be an early night. There was much more to explore tomorrow.

The next day I wandered around this magnificent city. The soaring spires of the many churches, the small shops and wonderful restaurants, the ancient history of the place. Of course the camera was becoming worn out with all the photographs I was taking. I sampled some local dishes at the restaurant where I had had the scallop meal with Tunde, Eva and Hector the day before. Later, thinking of the view that there must be of the fine sky line, I found a huge park that overlooked the town. There were some great panoramas of the soaring spites from the park.

The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela

The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela

In the evening after dinner, time was spent watching the assembly and testing of the stage and sound system for the Ben Harper concert the following evening. The Galician tourist authority had made great efforts to promote the Holy Year, Xacobeo 2010, attracting many great musicians. I met up again with Ray and others in the square by the cathedral and we chatted about out adventures and our satisfaction in arriving at the goal. There were many buskers around, and under an archway, a continuous stream of Galician pipers played. The music was wonderful and reminded of my home in Scotland.

Xacobeo 2010 logo on the cathedral

Xacobeo 2010 logo on the cathedral

Next day was a late rise. After all I was here at my destination, and after 65 days of dawn rises and of walking each day I deserved a long lie! Later I ventured further and explored more of the town. I finally booked some flights back to Edinburgh at a great internet cafe and with business concluded could finally relax and enjoy the last afternoon in Santiago de Compostela. I tried once more to visit the cathedral however again the queue was enormous. When I got back from Finisterre I would try once again.

I met up with Lorenzo, Luigi and the two Serinas again. It was good to see them! I talked about where I was staying and led them to my accommodation. They booked in for the night.

Park bench and permanent occupant

Park bench and permanent occupant

That night my mind thought of walking once more. After three days of rest, I was a little uncertain of continuing but felt I had to complete the distance to Finisterre. It would only be a three day walk. What was three more days after sixty-five already completed? Esvina at the albergue could not stop thanking me for bringing the others to her house the previous night and promised me a free night and home cooked meal on my return from Finisterre. Happy with the kind offer, it was a contented early night.

Street jugglers near a fountain in the town

Street jugglers near a fountain in the town

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