Destination: Santiago de Compostela
Time: 5 1/4 hours, 8:45 am to 2:00 pm
Terrain: rolling, gravel and paved road, several km through the city
Weather: Sunny and hot. It hit 26-28C today
Total distance walked: 730 km
Total distance travelled by foot, bus, and taxi: 793 km
Well we made it!
Erik and I decided to treat it like the last day of the TDF and just take our time and relax. It was as if we were riding down the Champs Élysees. The walk itself was not particularly challenging but it was fairly hot out and we were anxious to arrive once we got to the edge of town, so the last hour seemed long.
We didn’t set an alarm and had our usual routine in the morning, hitting the road at 8:45am as we always seem to do.
Early on we met a father and son team from Toronto who were walking Sarria to Santiago together and we walked and chatted with them for awhile. Dad was George and son was Guillaume. When they stopped for coffee, we said goodbye and walked on our own.
After that we tried to gap other pilgrims so we could have time to think and reflect on this last day of walking. Normally we enjoy chatting with other pilgrims because it makes the time go faster but today we wanted to appreciate every moment.
About 7-8km before Santiago, we climbed up Monte de Gozo which was originally the first place you could see the city in the distance (although the view is obscured). There was a large sculpture on the hill and lots of tourists taking pictures of pilgrims as if we were animals in the zoo.
From there on we began to enter the city and walked on the hot pavement. It seemed we’d never get there and my feet felt sore and my legs tired.
We saw Wolfgang and Ruediger several times along the way and then ended up walking into the city right behind them. When we got close to the center, we saw Irvin (Netherlands) sitting in a cafe drinking white wine as he always does. It was good to see he had made it today as well.
Just before the cathedral plaza, we walked through a tunnel where a man was piping us in. I took a video and will try to upload it below. As we arrived in the plaza, I couldn’t help being overcome with emotion and then almost immediately, April and Sam (sisters from Victoria), and Ana and Carlos (a couple from Brazil) came running up to meet us. They had been waiting for us to arrive! More tears and lots of hugs and of course photos.
Soon Carolyn (Calgary) arrived, followed by Rudy and Wolfgang (Germany). We’d all been together since the first 1-2 days and have been seeing each other off and on the entire way. Wow, it was amazing to all be together again in this final day!
After we took loads of people photos, I set up our backpacks for a picture and then left them there while we chatted. Tourists kept coming by to take pictures of our backpacks sitting in the middle of the plaza. I’m sure they’ve become quite famous now. 🙂
We said our goodbyes and then Erik and I walked 1 km to get our suitcases that had been transferred here 39 days ago. Thankfully everything was in order.
We walked another 1 km back to the cathedral, wearing our backpacks and dragging our suitcases along the cobblestones and then checked into our studio apartment which is absolutely lovely. We showered and I changed into a sun dress and sandals and blow dried my hair and put make up on. Who hooo – I’m a girl again!
We walked around a bunch trying to find a place to eat but most places didn’t open until 8 so we had a beer and an awful empañada and went to see how the line up was to get our Compostela (certificate). It wasn’t too bad so we stood in line for 40 minutes and got our two certificates – one is the official Compostela in Latin and the other is our distance certificate which shows our start and finish dates and the total distance we walked – 730 km!!
By then it was almost 7 and we were exhausted so we went back to the apartment. We must have walked an extra 5-6 km today on top of the 20 we did to get here!
At 8, Erik was hungry so we went out to find our friends. It turned out they were watching an outdoor symphony concert so we watched for awhile and then grabbed a quick burger and beer instead of going out for a nice dinner. We were just too tired. We have all day tomorrow and Saturday to enjoy ourselves and have a great meal so we decided it can wait.
It’s 9:30 pm now, Erik is asleep, and I am so tired but determined to get my blog up for the night. I have much more to say and many reflections to make about this trip but they will have to wait a day or so.
Thanks again for all of your encouraging comments, posts, and emails today. They have been wonderful – we really felt all of your enthusiasm and positive thoughts and they helped us along our way.
For those of you who say you will miss my daily posts, you may be sorry you said that because I will be continuing to blog regularly (maybe not daily though) as we begin the final leg of this adventure in Italy!