The day has finally arrived. After what has seemed like no time at all, we are finally taking our last few steps on the Camino De Santiago and let me tell you, there are certainly mixed emotions about it all. Part of me can’t wait to be able to sleep in and not have to think about another day walking whilst a bigger part of me is dreading the thought of leaving such a surreal experience behind.
Today was the first time on the Camino that we had to arrive somewhere within a particular time limit. We needed to be able to get to Santiago before 12pm which is when the daily pilgrim’s mass occurs in the main Cathedral. So you can imagine we had an incredibly early start leaving our Albergue by 5.45am. It was pitch black and we were walking through the woods. Definitely the darkest part of journey so far requiring two head torches this time. There were a few forks in the road which required us to shine our torches looking for the magical yellow arrow. At one stage it took us over five minutes to find it.
We walked for about 2 hours in the darkness which did make me feel quite nauseous for some reason. Both of us were absolutely exhausted and sore today, probably because of the accumulation of over 5 days over 30km journeys. Even though today is one of the shortest days we’ve ever done, there were times today I felt like it wouldn’t make it.
Suddenly the sun rose and I was a new person. I had an instant burst of energy and motivation to get to Santiago for the mass. So I walked as fast as I could with my trust sticks helping me along the way, up and down hills, through woodlands and along the road. I felt so alive. There was one point as we walked out of the woods we noticed a lady with a professional video camera filming us for about 30secs, getting into her car then driving off. We presumed it must be for a news segment or something like that. About 10 minutes later as we were walking a up a hill alongside a misty farm there she was at the top of the hill filming us again then driving off again. That was the last we saw of her, fingers crossed we become international superstars from those 30 second grabs.
The last two hours flew by and before we knew it we had arrived in Santiago, at which point we bumped into Alison who was trailing behind us for about a minutes. We all walked into the city together and headed towards the Cathedral. It took at least half an hour to reach the cathedral once we were in the city which made it all a bit of an anticlimax. Once we finally reached the cathedral we found that the entire exterior was covered in blue scaffolding which we were expecting but not to that extent! There standing in the Cathedral we bumped into Howard (Texas) who we gave a great big hug to and had missed over the last couple of weeks. He walked us to where he was staying and we decided to stay at the same place. From there we quickly at lunch and headed to the pilgrim’s mass where the pews were already starting to fill up.
Five minutes before mass started a nun stood at the front and rehearsed a few basic hymns with the chrurch-goers. Her voice was so angelic and powerful at the same time that it actually brought tears to my eyes. Looking around the church we saw plenty of pilgrims we knew which definitely brought us to the realisation that our Camino journey was coming to the end. The mass was completely in Spanish but ran almost exactly the same as a Catholic mass anywhere so it wasn’t difficult to follow.
After mass we bumped into Joe and Alissia who had just arrived. It was great seeing Joe again as it had been over a week since we last saw him. After a quick catch up we headed to the pilgrim’s office to get our certificates which was definitely very rewarding. We then headed back to our hostel for a nap and to rest our tired and weary legs in preparation for the night’s pilgrim reunion.
We told as many as we could to meet at 7pm at the pilgrim’s office. Luckily the message got around so the group that arrived included: Amanda, James, Dominic, Alison, Joe, Alissia, Howard and Natalie. It was such a fun night of tapas and red wine but definitely sad to have our final hugs and goodbyes. It was only then that we realised just how special the Camino was, that we could make lifelong friends all connected by an unforgettable experience.
Total cost for today:
– Breakfast: €1
– Lunch: €2 Salami and cheese baguette
– Dinner: €40
– Snacks: €2 Chocolates and chips
– Accommodation: €20
Total cost per person: €65
So whilst our Camino De Santiago has ended we have decided to do follow a post Camino tradition of walking to the coast of Spain. This will take us 3 days so you can continue to follow our blog for the final updates.
Til next time
Ann & Jason xo