And we’re done.
Today I’m sitting in our preferred class seats on the renfe train heading to Madrid in in the rain. Little cloud islands float past the windows as we pass over bridges. Fortunately we walking into Santiago de Compestela two days ago in over cast weather but the rain had held. The walk into the town was long (they all seem to be) through a modern suburb until we took a left down into the old town. We wormed our through tight little streets along cobble stone roads. Unfortunately the old entrance, “Purto de Santiago” area was under construction when we got there. Past that the buildings became larger and more “official” looking. Lots of beggars lined the streets beside street performers.
We entered a large courtyard of building and had our first look at the immense cathedral, but only from the side. Just down through a ramp in a tunnel waited our injured Amigo Grace. Glad hugs were shared around and into the main Cathedral plaza we went. People were everywhere greeting friends.
The front face of the cathedral lived up to the images we had seen in the way. The detail was as grand and as it was large.
We had missed the Pilgrims mass at noon so we went off to collect our Compestela’s. A bit of confusion followed but after a few questions from locals and other pilgrims we found the humble little office around to the right and behind the cathedral. A short line, a 3 euro donation and I had my scroll with my first name in Latin and a tube to protect it all. More hello’s were exchanged as we waiting in line.
Then off to the hotel to get rid of backpacks and to scrub away the dirt. Now we showered along the way but Grace booked us into a modern shiny hotel with bathtubs. We also had a balcony to sit on and rest my feet while I absorbed that we were done! I’m still not sure of the exact distance but we walked between 500 and 600 km in just over 4 weeks. My feet needed a moment.
As with most afternoons, once I had showered and normal feeling back in my feed we had to find lunch. It was nice to have Grace back as she took us to a place across the road and ordered and questioned in Spanish. A great share of different plates and a full belly back for a nap. A few hours later back into the old town for some site seeing and Michelle and I caught the tailend of the 7 pm Mass.
In true Spanish style we start looking for dinner around 8 and have the New Zealander Helen join us. Once again Grace take charge of the ordering and we have some more shared plates although Michelle ops for a Steak plate.
The guy most have liked us because two bottles show up on the house. One is a strong Lemon like one and the other is a smooth chocolate drink. Needless to say the ladies liked the second and a few shots of both are consumed against better judgement. It does help our nerve as we now have to run 4 – 6 blocks in the poring rain without the proper gear.
The next morning we have to meet the girls for breakfast around 8. The hotel had a great spread for 5 euros. To bad Michelle and I are now sick as dogs with colds. Once breakfast is over we make a quick stop at the pharmacy then we are all off in the rain again for our Pilgrims’ Mass where they read the name of all the countries and where they started (ie Canadians from Pamplona). Of course the mass was in Spanish so I understood only a few words. One thing was no photos or videos during the service. Of course many ignored the rules, wonder if they still are forgiven?
There is part at the end where they fill and swing a huge urn over the Pilgrims that only happens if 300 euros are paid. 100 pilgrims raised the money and paid and we got to see it. It was pretty amazing. It takes 7 guys to get it going and to keep it swinging. Michelle was very happy because she wanted to see this the most. She took a bunch of photos because the first flash came crime one of the priests up on the front alter! After that it was game in.
Once that was over we went back to the hotel, hung out in the lobby with the Aussies and the walked them to the train station. More sad hugs all around and off they went.
Later Michelle took a cab to a mall and I went to bed (sick remember?). Once she was back we settled into bed, skipped dinner and watched TV. She figured out how to remove the dubbing and we vegged until 10 pm. The alarm was set for 6:30 so we could be to the train for 9.
And that brings us full circle.
Tonight a hotel in Madrid, then an early morning flight home to Canada. And we’re done.