Distance: 22.8kms, Steps: 34,595, Time total: 7hrs.
(Delayed final blog due to late night celebrations!)
So Mr D was like at first; “Let’s get up early & be on the road early! I would like to get into Santiago early afternoon to enjoy our Parador!” What really happened was I woke up before Mr D whom slept to like 6.40am. (Totally unlike him!) Then he was like; “Well, it’s our last day & all! Let’s enjoy it!” We packed our stuff in our backpacks one last time for the road ahead. We were to meet George for breakfast at the same bar we had dinner at Wednesday night. Even through there was a breakfast bar opened 2 doors down from us, we went further along to our meeting point. It was a dreary cold wet day.
So we had no longer sat down at the same booth, then George turned up. Then a lady from Poland whom we briefly said hello to the other day, knew George & sat with us. George asked for his butter & jam with crossiant – he always gets a strange look at this request. We took our time enjoying talking over breakfast. Mr D was like, “I could sit here all day just talking & watching the rain outside!” The Polish lady had tostadas as “I can’t get eggs before 10am here so I have to walk until after 10am before I can get served eggs!” George took off before us as we headed back to our Pension room to collect our backpacks & go. I think how befitting it is to rain on our last day of walking! And it was the wettest day for us. It wasn’t like I was excited like the day we walked into Leon. It felt like just another day walking to our next town, I couldn’t get the song ‘The final Countdown’ out of my head as we set off back out of town & joined the Camino once again. It was almost 9am!
Mr D geared up with rainpants & rainjacket. I had my jacket & rain jacket on plus my umbrella. And it rained non – stop ALL day. It was a light rain at least. Only 4kms along Mr D was getting too hot so he stopped & pulled off his rain gear, put on his light rain jacket & umbrella & he was good to go again. I pulled off my jacket underneath. There were some Pilgrims but I think the majority had left earlier. Mr D had poured the remainder of the Baileys liquor from the heavy glass bottle it was in to his empty plastic water bottle & carried it in one of his front balance pockets. So as he was walking he got thirsty & removed one of water bottles & took a big swig from it. It wasn’t water. The baileys liquor burned its way down Mr Ds throat & into his stomach! If anything, it gave him an energy boost!
On we went through more beautiful tall, tall trees & eucalyptus trees. I could only imagine in Spring Galicia must be so green, the brown ferns we saw must all be green then. We stopped in at Porta de Santiago cafe after 1.5hrs for a hot drink. It was so cold & wet & miserable outside. We had constant heavy fog & mists ALL day so we couldn’t see much ahead. We passed through another small town & 2 ladies walking past Mr D stopped to chat to him. Turns out one of them started on the 20th of September so he has met a person slower than us! Then one of those Camino transport cars was back with the same ladies. One of them opened her car door & asked me if I wanted free water! Not needed today thanks! These people actually help out Pilgrims & can give them a lift somewhere if they need it.
We had been slowly plodding along, I was so tired actually & my legs were heavy. I just wanted to sit down for a bit. It felt the walk was dragging & it was so quiet we hadn’t a clue where the city was & when would we reach it. So in the heavy fog I couldn’t see much around, we passed a cafe & I was like, “I need a break!” Mr D said, “Ok the next one”. Well that is the Camino for you! As we didn’t stop at that cafe, I walked onwards up to Monte del Gozo at 380metres without realising we were now 4.5kms from the end! 3 people were coming back onto the path from taking photos of the great statue object on top of the hill. They were Sioux, David & George! George said when he saw me, “Hey! We were just talking about you two! I kept saying you mustn’t be far behind!” Sioux laughed & goes, “Oh my! It’s Mary Poppins!” And David was hell impressed with our umbrella ideas. Sioux wanted to take a photo of Mr D holding his umbrella & doing a dance. Then it was a case of singing Mary Poppins songs! After that, George pulled out his own bell that David got him & started ringing it. Then Montserrat caught up! So there was 6 of us to continue into Santiago. I went up the hill for the first views of Santiago – Santiago was so beautiful & white what could I say! The fog covered everything. Never mind!
I felt more energised as the group of us set off downwards, passing the huge Xunta Albergue that in Spring & Summer must be full of Pilgrims housing easily over 200 people. Today it was empty & quiet. George wasn’t holding back either on his little expulsions of gas. I think there was a frog following us! We laughed & joked as we went. Everyone stopped at this place at the bottom of the hill. A museum of great stone artwork. The older Spaniard man there opened the gate & gave us a personal tour of all his amazing work – his whole life is in that yard. Mr D hung about outside munching on the cheese & chorizo which I had some too.
The gang spent so long there that Mr D & I continued slowly onwards. Once you stop, you start getting cold standing in the rain. We had to walk back uphill & around before we entered Santiago, noisy Santiago. I immediately wanted the peace in the country! Mr D was looking for a supermercado to buy a bottle of champagne. No luck. People were walking wide around me squeezing through the gap between the pole & wall. It was hilarious. Mr D said I must be scaring them with my poles! I was feeling so tired again, so I demanded to stop for a break. We found a nice corner cafe & had churros & hot drink. After awhile, we spotted the gang coming as we joined up again for the last 1.5kms. George was like done, “I need to sit down! How much further?!” Sioux & David that had only started from 5 kms back when we saw them at Monte Gozo, they had made a short day a very long day! It was already after 3pm by now. We walked pass a supermercado that was open as Mr D bolted inside to buy the champagne. George went across the road for a cigar! Onwards we marched, how excited I was to see part of the cathedral in the mists in the distance!
We were almost there! We headed down the stairs that lead into the cathedral where one Pilgrim stopped us. Jamie from Byron Bay. He had finished 2 days ago & was congratulating us on our arrival. I think it would be fun watching the reactions of Pilgrims coming in. We had to walk around the side of the cathedral & around the front of it to the spot where you go to to face the Cathedral – the end point. We had done it! I was just so happy to be standing in the spot where thousands before me have stood. The gangs friends were there to greet them. There was Helen from England. Janet from Tasmania whom is originally from NZ. One very tall lady called Anna. And a guy called Ricardo. Sioux threw these bottles of glitter she carries over all of us as we had group photos. Mr D cracked open the champagne & we all had a small amount each in those long plastic cups, saluting & drinking in the rain – we didn’t care! I don’t know anyone else that has drank champagne on the square! Sioux said to us, “I’m going to keep these cups! And will bring them to Perth when we visit you! We can drink champagne at your house!”
With all the groups excitement, there wasn’t a quiet time to look at the cathedral & reflect. But it sure was nice to celebrate with these people we had only known in the past 4 odd days. We were like tag ons as our group had already finished – most of them anyhow! I still wish to see Jo & Sigrid walk into the plaza before we leave. Our Parador wasn’t far either – just on the side of the cathedral! Everyone went off to get their certificates. We got settled in at the huge Parador. Our room is very impressive! Off we went to get our certificates. And the distance certificate said we had done 799kms. What?! So rude really! We have done well over 800kms! The American was there & we saw him walking on his own in earlier. His wife must of taxied in. And he ignored us again! He is very strange. Mr D said his wife was getting a certificate even through she had taxied obviously quite a bit of it! Nope, we had walked every step of the way & with our backpacks! We couldn’t have been prouder! We have a bath! So we soaked in the bath. Mr D saying, “My right heel feels funny! Like it’s not connected to my foot!” Our legs have had enough. I couldn’t walk another day – I need to rest!
We all went out for dinner at a huge monastery building that David, Sioux & George were staying at. So there was 11 of us. We had drinks before going to the restaurant which the room was so impressive & big! 10€ each for our 3 course meals which was great. I chatted to Janet a fair bit & Mr D was chatting to Jamie, whom he kept calling ‘grasshopper’. George was telling his funny misdemeanour tales again & had everyone in stitches. Some still had not showered & had the glitter all through their hair & faces still. Anna loved my bright red SKINS tights. I’ll retire them away now – I think the tights would be remembered more than me by the locals! We stayed up to after 11pm as we went for shots after dinner. Mr D was getting very loud & excited now – the more he drinks, the more the party boy comes out! Sioux asked if I was walking to finesterre as she will be walking there. I would of loved to I reckon after 2 days rest I would be good for it. But there is not enough time left now & Mr D has been adamant from like 2 weeks into the walk he was not going to walk anymore after Santiago. I was sooooo tired, we all eventually said our good nights. We will meet up for the cathedral mass at noon Friday. Us & Janet walked back to our accommodations. Of course everyone was envious of us staying at the Parador!
So that is it – our Camino story, our way. Hope you all have enjoyed reading our journey. And to all those amazing & special people we have met along the way; Larry & Liz, Jo & Sigrid, Lottie & Hanne, Harold & Sabine, Jill, John from Arizona, John from Albany, Irish Ray, Anna & Martin, The two Amigos guys, Brian, Mario & Adriana, David & Sioux, George, Montserrat, the French pair, Joanie & Aimee, Ricardo, Janet & Lindy. Hope I haven’t missed anyone out! It has been 6 weeks & 2 days – just a walk in the park! A loooongggg walk in the park!
What did I not see that I was expecting?
– The laughing Spanish Women on the seats. ( I think they were all laughed out from watching the Pilgrims in Spring & Summer )
– Two Irish lasses. ( I think we will substitute those with the two Irish ‘big boys’ we met in Mazarife )
– The giant Sunflowers. ( They had all sadly died. You probably see them in Spring so wrong season in wanting to see the fields of Sunflowers )
We don’t regret anything! Except maybe bypassing Astorga. What a journey it truly has been. If you want to know what it’s like – come & do it as the Camino is different for everyone! Some say it is even life changing….