Today is estimated at 5 hours of walking, and there are 3 large hills to traverse. But it’s the last day so I try extra hard to enjoy each step. Somehow this has gone by so quickly! Again, beautiful quiet paths and tiny hamlets – then a point along the highway. This reminded me of when we arrived and were being transferred to Sarria to begin. We saw some pilgrims by the road and I thought, in 6 days that will be us. And so it was.
We stopped a couple of km outside of Santiago, in Monte do Gozo, and split the best grilled cheese sandwich ever. I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of it. (It was the same lucious experience as the Fanta Orange and Pringles while hiking in Morocco….) The hills today hadn’t been so bad – but the downhills ruined my right knee.
Entering Santiago there is still several kilometers to go through the city. It’s a bit jolting to be in an urban setting after so much peaceful countryside. We stop at one more Farmacia (maybe our 14th by now). I get an elastic brace for my knee, Susan invests in her 90th package of band aids. Then we continue on.
At some point the signage is lost to us so I’m still not certain if we entered into the cathedral from the ‘correct’ point. The cathedral is so huge, and there are 4 large open squares surrounding it, each almost its own community. The entrance with the the steps, home to many photos of arriving pilgrims, is under scaffolding but there are so many views to capture. And so many people. We never do find any of our traveling companions which makes me feel a bit discombobulated.
Finally we go to the hotel to check in. It’s in an old monastery, and as you enter (feeling YAY I’m finally here!) you then walk about another 4 city blocks to get to reception. Then up an elevator, and another 2 blocks to the room. Today was a lot of steps, with more to come.
In line at the Pilgrims Office, to get our compostela, we meet a Canadian photographer (www.louishelbig.com) who traveled the entire camino with his wife and 9 month old son Oscar. Now Oscar is 10 months old! Theirs was a good story. As a side note, if you want to buy his book Beautiful Destruction do so from his website; via Amazon he only makes a few dollars. Now there is something to think about – how our obsession with Amazon and discounts affects an individual.
Walking the camino has not helped my focus. Carrying my cool, collapsible water bottle around town, hoping to run into David the guide as I want to give it to him…. Well, I guess I put it down somewhere because at some point I realized it just wasn’t in my hand anymore. No amount of backtracking recovered it. I hope whoever found it enjoys it.
At the hotel’s pilgrims’ dinner we did find a few of the people from that group but still it felt odd to have so many we didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to.