Following our Thursday celebrations, Friday we attended Mass at the cathedral. Sitting in the front row with Jamie. The rest of the gang, Sioux, David, Janet, Helen, Montserrat, George, Anna & Ricardo were further back. We waited for the Botafumeiro to swing – the giant container that contains charcoal & incense, when swung, billows out large amounts of incense smoke. In the old days, it was used to fumigate the cathedral from the smell of all the sweaty smelly Pilgrims. These days, it has turned into a money making profit. Only certain dates of the year, it will swing for free. Otherwise the cathedral expects a payment of 450€ for them to swing it. Now I also found out that if the priest & acolytes come in red robes, then it will swing. On Friday they wore only white robes. So it was a disappointment & Mr D couldn’t get answers from anyone about when or if it will swing while we were there. Finally he spoke to a service security fellow that informed us it was broken. It was all sounding wishy washy.
After mass, Helen & Anna were farewelling the group as they were leaving. Anna & Jamie were walking out to finsterre that day. There were tears amongst them as they said their goodbyes. It was easy for us as we only met them on Thursday. We sorted out a paella for lunch & did some sightseeing & shopping, old Santiago town is a very cultural place, full of beautiful buildings, laneway shops & restaurants, history & so many souvenir shops. We often walked through the cathedral square during our stay in the hope to see Jo & Sigrid. But we never saw them. Wherever they are on the Camino, we hope they have a successful & safe journey end.
I had a quiet moment to stand & look at the Cathedral. Due to the groups excitement, taking photos & drinking champagne, we really didn’t just stop & let the acknowledgement of finishing seep in Thursday. I never did get hit with that emotional moment that I had made it. My mind was blank. So I was here, what now? Everyone else had their moments of tears when it finally hit them that they were in Santiago. No tears, but I’m so proud of us making it, there were times I really thought ‘we aren’t gonna get there’.
Friday night the group had shrunk to us, David, Sioux, Ricardo, Janet & George as we went to a different restaurant for a cheap peregrino meal. Afterwards we went back to the Monastery for more liquor shots & Baileys on ice. We spent more time at that Monastery than at our Parador! George was the only non – Australian at the table as we all said, “You must come to Australia George!”
Saturday morning we returned to the Monastery to farewell George whom was heading home. It would take him 2.5 days to get home with a 20 hour layover in Iceland. Then we had to down grade from the Parador to HotelReal which was further away from the cathedral square in a different part down a cute laneway full of shops & eaterys. No lifts as we had to walk up & down 3 flights of stairs to our room several times a day. A very small cosy room which was fine, but the bathroom not so. We had another of those shoebox sized showers. It was so tiny, I had to leave the doors open, there was just no way to shower comfortably! For Comparison: ( The Parador had a shower & a bath separate. )
We wandered the streets, finding the train station for Tuesday. Going to the markets. More shopping. We came across the two Alaskian ladies that had just arrived & were trying to do a selfie with the cathedral behind them. Lucky we were there as Mr D took their photo for them. He then suggested the Monastery to stay at so they did that. Their names are Joanie & Aimee. It was nice to see familiar faces arrive. They didn’t know if they wanted to walk or bus to Finsterre so Mr D told them about Tour Galicia that we were going on Sunday. For 35€ each an all day bus tour out to the coast. They took a flyer from us & went to find themselves a bed.
That night we were trying to team up with David & Sioux. Sunday, Ricardo, Sioux & Montserrat were walking out to Finsterre. David was flying to London & Janet heading to Paris. It seemed we were not to meet up as we had no connection with them & couldn’t find them. Due to me going into a shop to look at something, Mr D was waiting as Ricardo & Janet came by & bumped into us! So we all teamed up one last time for dinner. It took the others so long to decide where to eat. Janet was like, “I don’t want another peregrino meal!” And Sioux had found a place that made the drink I was after! So Ricardo went home to bed. Janet wasn’t going to join us then decided to as she didn’t want the drink. But she came & had red wine. David & Sioux made an effort to come to the bar to have the drink with us as we needed a minimum of 3 people. It is called Queimada, a traditional Galician drink that takes a lot of preparation. And as required, one man at the bar was reciting a spell while the tiny bar woman prepared the drink. The spell conferres special powers to the drink & those drinking it. It tasted alright! Had fruit, coffee beans & Brandy in it. Then a live Celtic band came on! So we partied on into my birthday. Janet left before the band came on. I’m sure Sioux would of been cursing us as she walked 21kms on Sunday! One Spaniard man took a shine to Mr D, grabbing him for a dance on the floor! Then paying him compliment after compliment. Mr D felt so flustered that he took a breather outside for a moment. The tiny bar woman was on her own & did such an incredible job serving & running about everywhere that David & Mr D gave her a tip each.
Sunday we headed out on the bus tour. Joanie & Aimee had decided to come. We went out to Muxia then Finsterre. It was a cold, wet day. We got a slight view of the ocean – where it once was referred to as the end of the world. Then the rain & mists came in & everything went white. Mr D was like, “This would of been a nice walk actually!” Yes it would of – another for the bucket list! Our two hour stop for lunch & it rained constantly. Mr D’s lunch wasn’t too desirable as his fish had not come out the way he wanted & did not taste very good. Yep we were right by the ocean too!
The weather was clearing up as we got to the waterfall & then to the second longest grainery in Spain. Then it was watching the ocean views, the towns all clustered close together along the coast for the ride back to Santiago. And we found a great Tapas bar for dinner, pigged out once again on awesome food. The only night we had to ourselves in Santiago!
Monday was a lazy day. Mr D decided to shave off his little bit of facial hair he had grown – with a semi blunt razor. He is returning to normal life now, no longer a Pilgrim! I had decided to try the cathedral mass one last time not expecting the botafumeiro to swing. Mr D couldn’t sit through another mass & went back to the hotel. When the priest & acolytes came in, they wore red robes! I did not get my expectations up & sat through 40 minutes of mass. Well this is the end of mass – not going to happen – hang on! Another group of men in red robes came out & pulled the ropes off the wall that swings the botafumeiro. My second wish had come true as I got to witness the swinging of the botafumeiro. It was spectacular & amazing. I feel so lucky to have seen it! Later, Joanie said she was in the laundromat when someone told her a Japanese tour group had paid 450€ to see the botafumeiro swing – which was to happen now – so she dropped her clothes & raced into the cathedral & videoed it just in time. Mr D was upset he had missed out – next time maybe!
We joined a rooftop of the cathedral tour group in the evening. It was in Spanish so we quickly got bored & wandered off to take photos & do our own thing! It was so cold up on the roof I couldn’t wait to get down! Joanie & Aimee were in the group too as we chatted to one another. Another lady called Ceti invited us all out for tapas & drinks afterwards. Another Australian called Lindy from Adelaide joined us. She had met Sioux & David along the Camino route. The first restaurant wasn’t so good as they served up a tapas platter that oozed too much oil. So we went back to the tapas restaurant from Sunday night & had some good food there. It was mainly a social evening & the first time we got to really know a bit about Joanie & Aimee. Me & Aimee were the only ones to not get a Latin name on our compostela certificates. It was farewells again as this time we were leaving the next day. Santiago sure was a nice stop.
Luckily I had checked the timetable for the trains. Mr D thought it was 9.30am. But it was 7.48am! So no breakfast that we paid for as it didn’t open till 8am. Straight onto the train & back to Madrid today. We have come full circle – Madrid, hotel, restaurant all as I had remembered from weeks ago. Hard to believe we had completed a long walk across Spain in that time. As a last minute impulse – Mr D found a music shop & finally bought himself a Laud instrument to add to his instrument collection at home. And it is made in Spain! So he has been happily getting acquainted with his new toy. Thank you Spain – for a trip we could never forget! And the carbs overload! And the helpful Farmacias – our best friends this trip. And the people we have met along The Way. Buenas Noches!