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Day 36, Santiago de Compostela


View Deb's Camino de Santiago de Compostela on Deb Godley's travel map.

As planned, and so Steve would have the full experience, we met up with Kim and Vittoria at 6:30, before sunrise. We used headlamps, although as usual, I held mine in my hand, having discovered that bugs are attracted to light - so, why would I want it close to my face? I generously shared my light with Steve.

It was nice to be able to start out with friends, but we were slower. K&V were soon ahead, but very nicely waited for us at the first bar in order to have breakfast together. We continued on, stopping every 5 km for a rest and drink while K&V pulled further ahead - we wouldn't see them again until later at mass.

At Monte del Gozo, we took a short detour through a construction area to see the large statue and the pilgrims pointed toward the first view of the cathedral in Santiago, still about 5km away. We found shoes that pilgrims had left behind, some new-looking; others with holes cut in the toe area to accommodate blisters or swollen big toes and loose toenails; and still others looking very well worn.

The construction, when completed will result in a revised camino pathway to pass close to these statues, which we think were moved further up the hill to improve the cathedral view, somewhat blocked by new housing.

It was hard not to speed up as we neared Santiago and my goal of the last 5 weeks, stopping to take pictures at the welcome sign. And then, finally, we arrived! After an emotional hug and sone required hurray! pics, I entered the cathedral through the holy door (spelled "holly door" on some signage :) and followed the pilgrim tradition of hugging the saint from behind (an action fully viewable by participants at mass) and praying for a moment at the tomb of Saint James (Santiago).

Afterwards, we went around the corner to receive my official compostela asserting that I had walked with an appropriate frame of mind and heart, and the confirmation of the distance walked, which is officially 775km from SJPP.

With the long line-ups at these pilgrim rituals, there was only time to quickly check into the hotel (the same one where Steve had stayed and which was storing our luggage) a quick change to non-Camino clothes (!) and find a seat in the cathedral for mass. Wirh the reported popularity of this service, we arrived just after 5 for the 7:30 mass, saving seats for Paul (yes, Paul from before Leon, who arrived 3 days ahead of me having walked up to 40 km per day), Kim & Vittoria. We probably could have arrived at 6, but we had really good seats and were happy to be able to sit with the group.

The mass began with a very personable nun teaching the congregation the sung responses. Even without understanding a word she said, we could see she would be a fun person to get to know and her singing voice was lovely, very melodic.

After communion, the purple-robed guys (not sure if that's their official name), began to manipulate the large incense burner, the botafumeiro) with the rope pulley system. It was an incredible spectacle, swinging from rafter to rafter. Fantastic! Apparently, this is the largest incence burner in the world that is swung in this way.

After mass, the five of us went to a bar that had been recommended to Kim. The bar was lovely, in a very nice garden, but served only popcorn for food. So, promising to return later, Kim was given a recommendation for a nearby restaurant. It turned out to be a Michelin-recommended restaurant and was an excellent choice for a celebratory meal after our great adventure.

Here are some pics of the food. It's not an error, that was delicious roast lamb. We ordered four different desserts (one of each on the menu) to share between us. Excellent meal, great company, dark beer, and Steve finally next to me - what more could I want?

We said goodbye to Paul after dinner - he will most certainly take his wife to dinner there once she arrives - and returned to the garden bar for a final drink.

What a fantastic, amazing day! And no setting the alarm tonight!

Selfie in the morning

Selfie in the morning

Pilgrims pointing to the Cathedral

Pilgrims pointing to the Cathedral

Large statue at Monte del Gozo

Large statue at Monte del Gozo

Shoes left at the foot of the statue

Shoes left at the foot of the statue

Entering the city

Entering the city

Arrival at last

Arrival at last

Selfie in front of the Cathedral

Selfie in front of the Cathedral

Holy Door arch carving

Holy Door arch carving

Cathedral altar

Cathedral altar

Guys pulling the ropes for the Botafumeiro

Guys pulling the ropes for the Botafumeiro

Botafumeiro swinging

Botafumeiro swinging

Roast lamb at the Michelin-recommended restaurant

Roast lamb at the Michelin-recommended restaurant

One of the five desserts

One of the five desserts

Posted by Deb Godley 18:11 Archived in Spain

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