Arco do Pino to Santiago – Part 2

By my second day in Santiago, the post-Camino blues had started to set in. The city was crowded, noisy, touristy, and totally overwhelming. The Prince of Spain was visiting, so the main square was packed full of school aged children cheering for him and demonstrators booing. I needed to get away.

I walked to the bus station to get the schedule of departure times for Finisterre. It’s a town about 90 kilometres west of Santiago on the Atlantic Ocean and in the Middle Ages was thought to be the end of the earth (thus its name). As I walked, I kept my eye out for Stefan, the German police officer we had walked with earlier on the Camino. I really didn’t want to leave without getting a chance to say good-bye to him. The same went for Carmel, the Dublin boys, and several other people I had become fond of. No luck though…I didn’t see any of them on my way to or from the bus station.

Later that morning, I went to the Pilgrim’s Mass at the cathedral. If I had any do-overs on this trip, it would be to avoid the church at all cost. It was packed and people were jostling for pews. Sadly, I saw elderly people standing while those younger were firmly planted in their seats. I found it most un-pilgrim like. The mass itself was disturbing too, with people parading by to hug a statue of St. James that is located at the front of the cathedral. Then when it came time to swing the botafumeiro (the big incense burner) people started snapping pictures, taking video, and acting like they were at some kind of Las Vegas show instead of a church service.

The one good thing is that as we were standing there, Stefan walked by! He and Jo Anne went for coffee and I joined them after the service for wine and tapas. Stefan caught us up on all his news. For the last several days he had been travelling with Chris, the young man from Singapore who we’d shared a meal with back in Ventosa, a couple from Toronto, and an Italian named Matteo. While Stefan was heading back home, the rest of them were walking on to Finisterre.

An idea was starting to form in my mind. I didn’t want my disappointment with Santiago to be the final memory I had of my Camino. I had planned to take the bus to Finisterre, but why not walk there instead? I went to the tourist office where they gave me an information sheet about the distances between albergues, bars, etc. from Santiago to Finisterre. There were a couple of long days but they were doable. I bought some food supplies, just in case. I checked out bus and train connections to Paris, making sure I had the time to walk to Finisterre. I did. The only thing left for me to do was make my decision.

Still unsure if I really wanted to walk another 90 kilometres, I went out for dinner with Moya and Jo Anne. It was our last supper together; they were leaving in the morning. We opted for tapas and found a little bar that was relatively quiet. Then we stopped in a shop on the way back to our hotel for some gourmet chocolate for dessert.

I tried not to be sad about us parting ways. They did, after all, only live in Calgary. I was sure I would see them again.

Back at the hotel getting ready for bed, I still hadn’t made my decision about Finisterre. I decided to sleep on it. If it was raining when I woke up in the morning, I would bus it. If it wasn’t, then I would be setting out on the trail once more.  

Big-eyed fish in a shop window
Crowds gathered in the main square to greet the Prince of Spain

Ferris wheel not far from the cathedral. It looked so out of place in this old part of the city.

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