We made it!
We left our albergue at the usual time, which meant we were close to the last group out. The walk itself was rainy but pretty until Monte de Gozo, where you can see down to the city of Santiago. After we walked to the pilgrim monument to look out at the spires of the Cathedral, we followed the road down into the suburbs of Santiago.
I remember the suburbs dragging on forever 5 years ago, but even with a stop at the bus station to get our tickets to Fisterra, we reached the cathedral pretty quickly. It was unexpectedly emotional to arrive, and it still doesn’t seem real that we finished.
We took a picture in front of the cathedral, despite the blue scaffolding all over the facade. Then we moved to the wall to touch it with our hands and feet—Woodruff tradition states you haven’t completed a journey unless you touch the ending point.
After taking a moment to let it sink in that we’d arrived, that after 38 days we had finished, we left the plaza and the cathedral to find the Compostela office. We joined the line to get our certificates, and about 5 minutes later huge numbers of people showed up—mass had ended at the cathedral. Eventually we got our Compostelas (they’re in Latin), we rested a little, then we went to find lunch.
As we searched for lunch (and even before leaving the Compostela office) we ran into several people we knew: Robert from Belgium, Nathan and Ruby from the United States, Edith from Austria, and then Nina, Sandra, and Maura. We chose a restaurant near the office and had a pilgrim meal, finally eating more like Spaniards with a big meal around 2:00.
After lunch we walked around the outside of the cathedral before settling in my favorite little plaza in Santiago, Plaza de Fonseca, just south of the cathedral. Five years ago, I spent much of my time reading in this plaza, and today I did the same. We began by sitting in the sun, but eventually the group occupying one of the two shaded benches left and we moved. While we sat there, a flamenco performance started on the nearby street, lasted for maybe four songs, then disappeared. I remember things like this happening when I was here before. The city always surprised me with small shows of culture like that.
Shortly after 5:00, we put on our shoes, picked up our bags, and walked back to the bus station, stopping on the way to get some meat and cheese from the grocery store for tonight’s dinner. There were two buses to Fisterra at 6:15, so we had to ask to make sure we got on the direct one, which was scheduled to arrive at 7:40, not the other bus which wouldn’t arrive until after 9:00.
We had a small hiccup with our hotel reservation when we arrived in Fisterra—apparently there was a problem with the credit card and they’d canceled the reservation. Of course, they’d sent me an email about it, 3 hours before canceling, when we had no wifi and couldn’t have possibly known. Fortunately the woman at reception called a man who rents out rooms in an apartment nearby, so for less than the hotel cost we have two rooms and a bath (shared with a couple in a third room). It’s not what we’d planned, but it works.
We had only two hours until sunset, so we dropped our stuff and set out quickly for the walk to the lighthouse. At the point, we walked past the lighthouse to the rocks at the end then admired the peace pole. We returned to the road and headed for the picnic tables for dinner.
We had no cups so we swigged our wine from the bottle while we ate our meat and cheese. We stopped most of the way through dinner to watch the sunset, then walked the 2.2 kilometers back to town in the waning light to our original hotel where we shamelessly used the wifi to check email and update blogs.
I may or may not post regular updates for the next few days, depending on what we do in Santiago.
A small reflection about today
Today would have been Grandad’s 100th birthday. Finishing our Camino today feels like a fitting tribute to a man who was a dedicated walker well into his 90s. Watching the sunset over the Altantic also seems appropriate, given how often we joined him and Grandma in watching it in Ocean City. We toasted him with wine as we enjoyed sunset (only because we couldn’t figure out how to keep the more appropriate toast—ice cream—cold for the hike up). It seems that whether or not we realized it at the start, this Camino was for him.