After an unexpectedly late night thanks to an over-enthusiastic DJ in the bar below our apartment, it was another early start for the final day of the Camino.
Yesterday’s rain had abated, the sun was looking set to stay with us, and despite over 25km ahead, everyone we met seemed in great spirits. The rain proved us wrong as it turned out, drizzling for a while mid morning, then letting up, then one last dunk to help us appreciate the sunny afternoon and evening that followed.
The route follows river, road and railway. Slipping from one to the next, and gradually rising to give glimpses of the Santiago skyline. Then it dips as you get closer to the city, only rising as you cover the last couple of miles through streets to the cathedral square, Praza de Obreiro.
The distance didn’t weigh heavily on us at all, even when the frequency of signs meant we were told we’d traveled only 500m. And then we were given a choice. A choice. The longer route via Conxo or the shorter, more direct, Santa Maria. Of course we went for the circuitous but scenic one – not sure how the other path looks, to be fair, by nature of it being the path not followed.
Once entering the outskirts there are fewer arrows and signs, but we kept on upwards catching the odd clue to confirm we were heading the right way. There’s a feeling of being ‘all in it together’ with lost-looking pilgrims pointed in the right direction by peregrinos and locals alike.
And then, all of a sudden, we’d arrived. The city steps from the familiar to ancient grandeur without you really noticing where the two meet. But the anticipation of arrival only heightens the effect of the Praza that greets every pilgrim. The apex of the scallop shell and the meeting of the Ways.
Pilgrims and other travelers mill around, taking in the surroundings, as they probably have for hundreds of years. The picture the same, only the clothes and contraptions different.
A moment to take in.
Glad to unburden our shoulders, we let our packs to the cobbles.
A little careful planning meant that our hotel was nearby, so we headed to Praza da Quintana a couple of minutes walk away. Like all the central hotels, shops and restaurants, it was in a solid stone building, sympathetically converted to bring ancient and modern together.
A celebratory meal at Maria Castaña finished off an eventful day. The bells of the cathedral are still going at 11:15 but we’re not. It’s been a long day. Tomorrow to present the Credencial and hopefully receive our Compostela certificate.