My final day of walking was a long one. We left Arzúa relatively late, at around 8.30am after breakfast in a cafe close to the albergue that we had stayed in. We had planned to walk to Arca o Pino and then to Santiago the next day, however word got round pretty early on that all of the albergues had been booked up in advance (by the dreaded ‘tourist pilgrims’) and there were no beds left! So we then looked at the next place only the map with an albergue which seemed to be only 5kms from Santiago…. So we decided to push for Santiago in one day – 38kms, our longest walk yet!
It was quite a strange day with mixed emotions. We didn’t really talk a lot for the last 10 kms or so and walked apart for some of it. I was excited to be near to my goal, happy with what I have personally achieved, but sad that it will soon be over and I will have to return to normality.
As we approached Santiago the heavens opened! The first real rain since I began my Camino and I soon found out that my poncho wasn’t as waterproof as I’d hoped! So, soaking wet and a little annoyed we walked into Santiago. I didn’t really feel anything as we walked through the city, just sadness that it was over…. As we arrived in the main square outside Santiago cathedral though I was smacked in the face with lots of different emotions all in one go! I cried. I didn’t care that people were watching me and some tourists were taking pictures of me. I just stood there I front of the cathedral and cried. Not because I was sad, but because I was so overwhelmed by what I had just achieved. While I was walking the Camino I never really stopped to think about it but when I got to the cathedral it all suddenly hit me. From being so scared that I nearly didn’t get on the plane, to now standing here in a foreign country having made some amazing friends from different parts of the world. I’m not scared to walk down the street anymore, and I don’t mind talking to strangers. I can walk into a shop without anyone to hold my hand and I feel like having walked the Camino, having actually done it… I can do anything!!!
Once I had stopped crying and sorted myself out for a few photos we headed into the cathedral. It’s massive! I was pleased that we had arrived so late (7pm) as it meant that there weren’t many people about.
Pilgrims are no longer allowed to place their hand in the tree of Jesse, the central column of the Door of Glory Portico de Gloria. I stood for a while and looked at it, imagining the thousands upon thousands who had come before me. I then went to the High Altar, up the stairs and hugged the apostle, rested my head against his and had a quiet word in his ear… Finally, I went down the steps to the crypt and the reliquary chapel under the alter. I don’t know why but I just stared at the casket containing the relics of the Great Saint. I don’t even remember now what I was thinking about. I just stood there. Then I climbed the steps to the right and left the cathedral.
In the evening I went out in the city and had some well earned drinks with friends that I had made along the way. I had intended to walk the next day to Muxia and then Finisterre but when I woke up I suddenly changed my mind. Instead I took a bus straight to Finisterre and have been here since, camping on a beach with a bunch of hippies! I intend on finishing the camino properly though and will not stay here for much longer. Some have been here for a very long time and while it’s a beautiful place to be, I don’t want to get stuck here! That would be too easy!
I don’t know when I will leave or where I will go. Perhaps walk from here to Muxia, or even get a bus back to Santiago and then walk from there to Muxia and back to Finisterre…. Or even go somewhere else and return another day to finish it. I really don’t know at the moment what I want to do or where I want to go. I thought that once I finish the Camino I would know exactly what I want, but I am more unsure now than I have ever been. I really don’t want this to end…