CAMINO FRANCES | The day we celebrated!

I was wide awake at 4.30am at “The Prison”.  By 5 am I decided to dismount from the top bunk (not easy when you are trying to be quiet!) and go and make myself a coffee.

I grabbed my journal and my coffee and walked the 600 meter trek to the statues that point to Santiago. By this time it was light and I was keen to watch the sunrise over Santiago. It was foggy so there was no sun which was disappointing.

Today we had just 3 miles to walk before we reached our final destination of the Cathedral in Santiago where they believe that the remains of St James (one of Jesus apostles) is buried.


We found ourselves following the little yellow arrows for the last time. Santiago reminded me of The Shambles in York with its many different thin cobbled side streets.  Before we knew it the famous arches led us to the plaza in front of the Cathedral. We heard a scream as fellow pilgrim Sue came bolting over with her arms wide open! This is the point that both Julie and I shed a tear as the realisation that we had just walked nearly 800 kilometres had hit us. To finish this journey with my daughter made it even more special. I’m so proud of Rachel. What an achievement for a 15-year-old!!!


Many photos later we walked over to the Pilgrims office to collect our Compostela. The officials go through your pilgrim passport in detail to make sure that you have collected enough stamps along the way. The stamps prove that you have walked the distance and you collect them at the hostels, churches or cafes along the route. With our certificates in hand, it was time to find our hotel and then meet up at 12noon for the pilgrim mass.


I really don’t mean to offend anyone but the mass went on for 1hr and was completely in Spanish. Once you got over the beauty of the cathedral and listened to the nun singing, the rest was just talk that I didn’t understand. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. I’m disappointed that they didn’t swing the huge incense burner thing, as I was looking forward to that. With over 1000 people in the church, the atmosphere was rather electric.


I met one of the pilgrims in the square from our early days of walking. He told us that a homeless guy had stolen his rucksack that had everything inside. His passport, his certificate of achievement etc. There are many beggars and homeless people in Santiago so leaving your pack outside of a pub whilst you go and buy a beer is not the wisest of things to do. We hugged him goodbye and wished him luck with getting home.


Our last supper consisted of 12 pilgrims (I see the irony there!), and we all enjoyed tapas together. It was a brilliant night.  Stories were shared, Facebook connections made and I was persuaded to make a book version of my photo album book.

After a walk in the park, eating ice cream Rachel and I left for our hotel and let the others carry on with the party.

Tomorrow we are hiring a car (Rachel is happy about not walking!), and visiting Finestere (the end of the world).

For now, I’m just proud of what we have achieved.

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