We awoke this morning with a sense of excitement at reaching the last leg. Today we finish in Santiago. There was very little rain overnight but of course it has been forecast but only light scattered showers. They may miss us. It seems that everyone has converged here to begin the final walk. Hundreds of people have just appeared from nowhere and are all eager and excited to finish.
As per usual the final walk is quite hilly and we stop several times so as I can replace my bandages. At times I am thinking of a taxi or a bus the pain is so bad now. I feel every little pebble like the point of a knife jamming in to my feet as I walk. I am not enjoying this as I should. My wife walks alongside and she is full of words of encouragement. Unfortunately for her I can’t stop now for photo opportunities as when I do the pain of standing still is excruciating. My feet stick to the insoles of my footwear and when I go to move it is as if the soles of my feet are being peeled off … It is best to keep going.
We reach the last marker at the edge of the city and I reluctantly agree to stop to have our photo taken. We continue to descend down into the city and even my wife finds the going tough now. Her thigh muscles are killing her. Our path is now marked out for us with shells laid in to the pavement.
From there it takes forever to reach the Old Town and the Romanesque Cathedral de Compestela. Street after street after street … up and down. This is a real endurance test now and the crazy paving they have used on their pavements plays absolute havoc with my feet. This morning started out so well but by the time we reached the Cathedral the way I was walking you would have thought I had spent the weekend with Quentin Crisp!
The walk from the edge of the city to the Cathedral was the most persevering to say the least. Street after street after street and even the Spanish walkers were expressing their dissatisfaction. Where is the feckn Cathedral!
As we close in on the cathedral and the large Praza do Obradoiro "Square of the Workshop” the noise levels begin to rise. As we enter the square the cathedral and all the buildings surrounding it are stunning in architecture. The square is full of people. All cheering as they enter or those already finished are waiting on the stragglers of their group and cheer them heartedly as they arrive. The Spanish youth are in great voice again. The old, the young, the healthy and the not so healthy all arrive. The terminally ill arrive too. Some aided by their group, others walk unsupported. They come to seek a miracle, absolution or I suppose to simply to tick off one of their bucket list. Still their walk and endurance must be admired. There is a great feeling of achievement in the air. My feet are forgotten and hundreds pile in to the square from all sides. Some are singing, mostly the youths though, at having reached their destination. For others their destination is the Atlantic coast and after a short sojourn they continue on.
For ourselves this is as far as we go!
We are ecstatic to have completed the Camino and loads of hugs, kisses and photos follow. We meander over to a wall where a person can sit on stone seats and take in the view and all the people arriving. We recognise quite a few.
A while later we head of to find out hotel which we decide it is best to hail down a taxi and ask them to take us to it. We are lucky enough to find a taxi about to leave a hotel forecourt in the Old Town and he takes us to the hotel which is about 100 yards down from the entrance steps of the Old Town. We are charged €3 for the journey … an honest taxi driver indeed!
What a location. Our room is unbelievable and the staff are so courteous. We spend the afternoon sitting in the hotel garden, feet out of flip-flops and resting on the soft grass in the mid-afternoon sun. Drinking celebratory beers and eating olives and salted nuts and basking in the glory of our achievement … what a way to end the day!
We plan to explore the Cathedral quarter tomorrow and seek out our certificate. We are here until Monday and intend enjoying the next day just people watching.