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Report 2014: Camino de Santiago

By Maria A from NJ, Summer 2012

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Page 10 of 11: Day 8 - Rúa to Santiago de Compostela - About 21kms

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In front of the Catedral in Santiago de Compostela

Today is the day! It was so exciting to wake up knowing that God willing we would walk into my beloved Santiago today.

I would have liked to have an earlier start but Javier the innkeeper didn’t offer breakfast earlier than 8 so that’s what we did. He asked us if we had been awakened by the screams the night before (duh!) and apologized for it. Apparently one of the ladies had a nightmare and woke up not recognizing where she was. Once she started screaming, her companion followed suit. Me thinks she had a bit too much of vino the night before. Well, I was glad to hear it wasn’t a mouse or anything like that.

After a very simple breakfast, Javier drove us to the same point in Rúa where he had picked us the day before. The weather that day was promising at the beginning and for the first part of the day there weren’t any steep climbs or difficult terrain. That morning we stopped for café con leche at hotel restaurante Amenal.

We then continued our walk, eventually going by Lavacolla, where the airport is. I must have been deep in thought when we walked by it because I never saw it! (I later asked my husband about it and he said he doesn’t know how I could have missed it!). Shortly afterwards we started having periods of rain/drizzle which forced us to stop and put on our rain ponchos as we started the climb towards Monte de Gozo. By the time we reached San Marcos, about 1km away from Monte de Gozo, it was raining really hard. I saw a restaurant, on the highway just off the camino, and suggested we go there (Raxeria/Pulperia San Marcos). This was a bit fancier restaurant that we were used to, with tables set formally and, for the most part, men in business suits! I felt all eyes on us, our wet ponchos dripping water on the bar floor. I was about to tell my husband that we better leave before they asked us, when I noticed that on the back they had a glass enclosed terrace. So, we quickly made our way there, this was more like it! We had a really nice lunch. They claimed pulpo was their specialty, so my son asked for it and I tried it. Not as good as in Melide, but good enough.

By the time we finished lunch and rejoined the Camino the rain had subsided, but it looked like it could start again any moment. We quickly climbed to Monte de Gozo from where we could first view the sprawling city of Santiago at our feet. But where were the spires of the Cathedral that I or somebody should be able to spot? Never saw them! Never mind, excitement was building because we knew we were so close. We continued our walk, now going down, and soon saw a sign high on a post that announced “Catedral 4,7km” and the ubiquitous yellow arrow above. From here on you’re pretty much on asphalt and not particularly attractive as you make your way into the city. You go over a bridge to cross over AP-9 highway (weird, what am I doing here!?) and then continue walking into Santiago.

And just as we’re starting to approach the old town, the skies opened and rain started to pour down. Oh, no!, I said to myself. It was not supposed to be like this! What about the pictures when we reach the Cathedral? But we kept slogging, now wearing once more our hideous ponchos and getting soaked. But as we approached the Plaza de la Inmaculada and the Monastery of San Martin Pinario, the rain turned to drizzle, and a sliver of blue sky started to peek through the dark clouds. Could I hope? As we approached the tunnel/arch where usually musicians set shop, I heard one of them playing those lovely bagpipes. And at this point the sky cleared, turned blue and the sun came out! It was so overwhelming. We took our ponchos off and stuffed them in our backpacks, walked quickly under the arch thanking the musician with some euros, and came out on the other side, on the glorious Plaza del Obradoiro and the majestic Cathedral. I was by now close to tears, it was very emotional for me, and of course we all hugged to celebrate! I have been several times to Santiago so I knew exactly what the Cathedral and surroundings look like, but it was almost as if I was seeing it for the first time.

We took the obligatory pictures, rested for a while on the square, enjoying the sun and the view of the Cathedral. We then went to the Pilgrims’ office around the corner on Rua do Villar for our Compostela. There was a short line that moved quickly and we finally got it. I was surprised to see that our names where written in Latin, I didn’t know they did it that way. Afterwards we went to the Cathedral and paid our respects to the Saint by visiting the crypt where his remains are kept.

We were tired, dusty and wet, so decided to head to our hotel and clean up rather that remain in the Cathedral. For our stay we had selected the Hotel Altair, owned by the same family which also owns the very popular Costa Vella.

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