Distance yesterday: 20.6 km
Total distance remaining: 0 km!!!!!
Yesterday was the last day on the road. We are writing this from the comfort of our HOTEL lobby on their free computer and internet facilities. YEAH! Unfortunately, this is the second time we have typed it because the connection to the page dropped out and we lost everything. Please excuse any air of less-than-enthusiastic at retyping. It was really good and we are s***ty at having to retype it. In fact, it´s probably going to be a lot shorter. But hey, you don´t know what you are missing really.
Moving on. Our decision to stay in Arco do Pino turned out to be great. The morning of our last day was cold and foggy, but dry. It made for a very atmospheric start! We left the refugio at a reasonable hour (7am!), after a good night´s sleep. We planned to take the day easy and get into Santiago around 1pm, settle into our surroundings and ease into just arriving.
The beginning of our walk out of town was through a dense forest of Eucalyptus trees, much like walking through any forest in Australia! Weird. The smell helped poor Gabriel´s sniffles. Tear. Natural Vics vapor rub! We had worried that the last day on the Camino would mean that the trail would be packed with -ahem- daywalkers and people wanting to do the last stage of the walk into Santiago. For goodness sakes, a big bus of Spanish women were bused to our hostel just for that reason! But, to our delight (and utter surprise), we passed probably four people the whole day! It kinda felt like we had taken a wrong turn somewhere...
When we passed the airport we knew we were getting close. It was a gradual climb uphill all day, so when we arrived at Monte do Gozo (the pinnacle, just outside town), things started to feel real. The excitement set in. Our final descent was into Santiago, the end of the journey!
The outskirts and suburbs of town were quite unimpressive and unremarkable. It was the spires of the cathedral that drove us on. We ducked into a panaderia to buy some victory Magdelenas (spanish muffins, and gabe´s new crazy obsession) to eat when we got to the cathedral plaza. We´re foodies. Don´t judge.
We were soon weaving through the cobbled streets of the old city. The excitement was pretty palpable at this point. So close! We came upson the plaza of the cathedral to classical music oozing from nearby trio of street performers. Talk about atmosphere! We must have looked happy, big smiles, big hugs. A stranger walked up to us and offered to take our ´just arrived´ photo.
We looked at our watch and to our amazement and we had arrived two hours ahead of schedule! 11am. We stuffed our faces with beautiful victory magdelenas (yuuuuummmmmm, I´m going to learn how to make all the lovely culinary delights we tried, already scouting spanish cookbooks. Get ready dom and nat!), took some photos and headed to the 12pm pilgrim mass! Turns out we jumped in feet first to arriving, full throttle!
The mass was pretty cool. It was presided over by a cardinal and his entourage of 50 bajillion priestly lackies. It went on for an hour, in spanish and german, and ended with the traditional swinging of a giant silver insence urn. Apparently, in olden days it was used to fumigate the stinky and dieased pilgrims that had arrived to Santiago (apparently, according to Gabe, much like me). It was amazing to watch. It was hung by the rafters of the cathedral by a thick white rope and took six priest lackies to operate! It was practically parallel with the floor at one point, it seemed like it was nearly going to swing through the roof! All of this was done with crazy loud and beautiful organ music on the old school pipe organ. It made for a pretty special end to a pretty special journey.
After all this hoopla, we headed to our refugio to drop our stuff and spend our last night as poor pilgrim peeps. We even were 10 cents short when paying. Oops. The guy didn´t really care though, and we did go back and repay it. We´re honest folk. Now today we have checked into our hotel for two nights (woo!! endless hot water showers!!!!), wondered around the city soaking in the sights and washed all our smelly clothes in the bath, glass of rioja wine in hand. Its been a pretty good day.
Over the next few days we are heading out to see what the rest of Galicia and Spain have to offer. On recommendations, we are looking to head to La Coruna, Ponteverde, Vigo and Finesterre. We shall see how it pans out! Stay tuned lovelies, and thanks for listening (sorry for the early rant...)