Distance walked today: 20 kilometres
Total travelled: 802.1 kilometres!!
Moya, Jo Anne and I had agreed on an early start, since we wanted to be in Santiago before noon. We left at 6:30. It still wasn’t light so I pulled out my trusty headlamp. It had served me well over the last five weeks. Thankfully it wasn’t raining, although there was fog in some places. I took some photos of the trees shrouded in mist.
We were expecting to have to walk a good 10 kilometres for breakfast, so it was a pleasant surprize when we came across a bar far sooner than that. I had tea, freshly squeezed orange juice and a cream-filled pastry. I was acutely aware of the “lasts”…last day of walking, last breakfast on the trail, etc. This added to the jumble of emotions I was feeling as I headed to what I thought would be my final destination.
I had hoped to get my first glimpse of the cathedral at Santiago from Monte del Gozo. But when we arrived, there was a myriad of tour buses along with a big crowd in red jackets and flags gathered at the Mount. It looked like they were getting ready to stage some kind of protest. In fact they were, although about what I’m not exactly sure. The same group later arrived in Santiago where they demonstrated near the cathedral as the Prince of Spain arrived. More about that later.
With all these crowds it was a bit of a gong show. I dubbed it Gonzo at Gozo and decided to give the Mount a miss. We walked on without even snapping a photo.
It actually took quite a long time to reach the cathedral from the city limits. I enjoyed the walk and my excitement grew, which surprized me somewhat. I hadn’t known how I would feel at this point and in fact had prepared myself for being let down, but that didn’t happen, at least not then.
After walking a good hour, we rounded a corner and there we were, in the main square, looking up at the cathedral. We hugged one another, Moya and I shed a few tears, and we just stood there trying to absorb the whole scene. We had someone take the obligatory photos of us and we returned the favour. Jo Anne got a great shot of me jumping for joy.
Our plan had been to head to our hotel before doing anyting else, but since we were in the pilgrims’ office anyway asking for directions, Moya and I decided to get our compostelas (Jo Anne already had a collection of them at home and decided she didn’t need one more). The process was pretty simple: the woman in the office asked me where I’d walked from, if I’d walked the entire distance, and then she stamped by credential and handed me my compostela with my name written in Latin – Dnam Joannam Patterson.
With my free pass into heaven clutched in my hand, we again made our way out into the streets of Santiago and to our hotel, where we freed ourselves of our packs, got cleaned up, and found some lunch. The total amount on the meal bill was a bit of a shocker. We had gotten so used to pilgrims’ meal prices that we had become out of touch with the normal cost of things. My potato and kale soup, shrimps in garlic sauce, and white wine came to about $22 Canadian.
Dinner, on the other hand, must have been the best bargain in town. We went to a place called Casa Menolo, which is a popular haunt with pilgrims. There I had enough food for an army (shellfish soup, swordfish with salad and fries, and flan for dessert, plus wine and water) for a paltry 8.50 euros.