Day 17 O Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela
So we arrived. We had an early breakfast and started walking at 6:50. We knew about the new ticket system in Santiago and I wanted to be sure we arrived in time and I also just wanted a little more time in Santiago… So we set off.
We don’t rush but it’s fair to say our stride and pace has improved over the last few weeks. The kilometers just fell away and we reached Santiago Airport in no time. Onwards past familiar landmarks we walked. I’m always surprised by how few pilgrims take the slight detour to visit the pilgrim statues at Mont Gozo. Why walk so far and not? We wandered down, gazed across the city at those famous spires before continuing on.
I had thought that it would be nice to arrive by midday but calculated that it might be closer to 13h. In the end we wandered in just before 11:30.
I know so many of my Pilgrim friends adore this city but I’m not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful and impressive and the cathedral is magnificent but… There are such crowds, large groups following tour guides, it’s loud and busy and always feels like a big tourist attraction. I know… It’s me… But I can’t help it. Perhaps I should come in late autumn or winter when the crowds have gone? Then I can appreciate Santiago’s magnificence without the hordes?
We tried to take photos but seriously it really was just too busy. 12 October is a national holiday and it’s the weekend too so it’s only to be expected. Regardless of the crowds, it was just perfect, we were here safe and sound and the cathedral looks beautiful without all the scaffold.
So we arrived. We took our ticket at the new queuing system at the pilgrims office… We bumped into the beautiful people we’ve been walking with… Gerry ate his emergency apple… We had a cathedral tour… We crossed paths with Antonio one last time and took photos. He’s been giving us Spanish lessons along the trail and yesterday we learned that he was also the person leaving the little notes on trees along the trail… I have no idea what they say but he says they were his thoughts. I reminded myself again that I must learn Spanish so that I can talk more with wonderful people like Antonio.
We also met the two beautiful Polish girls outside the cathedral. We first met just before Lugo and they joined our little gang ( and gosh that feels about 5 months ago!) I’ve loved walking with these young women. Seeing the camino through their eyes taught me to look beyond the crowds from Melide and soak up the beauty around us. Thanks ladies… I really hope we meet again!
We returned to the pilgrim’s office for our compostela. Earlier this year when my father died I took comfort from the words of virtual friends on a camino group. One suggested that I have my compostela dedicated to my father. It was a good idea. One final gesture from daughter to parent. A full stop. Healing. I had planned two visits to Santiago this year and I had in mind that I would dedicate one to my father and one to my mother. But those plans changed. When the man in the pilgrim’s office asked if I would like to dedicate my compostela there was only one name that came to mind. Jaqui. I have felt a few times on this camino that she was walking with me. And my spirit has taken so much comfort from those moments and I’m so happy that we’ve enjoyed one more walk together.
We were just 6 numbers away from Kjell and Gula in the queue. We’re going to miss our Swedish friends, they’ve been such a big part of our Primitivo camino and our walk has been richer for their company. We went for one last drink… So far we’ve split every bill 50/50 but this time I took the bill and told them they will have to buy the next one!
Honestly I just love walking with pilgrims, I love the cathedral in Santiago, I love following the arrows and I have loved every step of this most beautiful walk. The Primitivo is tough but it was made better walking hand in hand with Gerry… And I can’t wait to plan my next return to St James.
Buen Camino pilgrims… Many thanks for all the kind words and support… Until the next time ❤️