Day 64: Amenal to Santiago de Compostela (17 kms)

We made it, but the cathedral needs some mending

Robin and I could not get to sleep last night. We both tossed and turned. I finally dozed off (according to Robin) at 2:30. Robin thought she might have gotten an hour’s sleep. The alarm went off at 6:00. As one might imagine, there was not much delay in getting out of bed this morning. It had been raining pretty steadily overnight, but at 7:00 when we stepped out the door the rain had stopped. The day was still dim due to the cloud cover, so we stepped cautiously uphill onto the Camino trail, which was just alongside our hotel. Dim turned to dark, but we still managed a good pace, especially once the tree cover opened up, and some daylight could get through. It was arrival day after all. We climbed quickly up to the airport, walked around its perimeter, and stopped for a coffee, just beyond Lavacolla. There were lots of pilgrims drawing a bead on Santiago, this morning, and almost none of them were idling along. We enjoyed the cool dry morning, and found it just perfect for the pace we were walking (around 5 kms/hr). We eventually came upon even more pilgrims, and visions of chaos at the Pilgrim Office started creeping in. We stepped on the gas just a bit more. We topped Gozo, where first timers were taking lots of photos, and just pressed on. Down the backside we went picking up a few more slower walkers in the descent. As we walked into the outskirts of the city the crowd continued to thicken. That’s when I saw the guy with a flag. He was leading an army of pilgrims towards the Porta do Camino, the Camino Way into the old city of Santiago. How to head them off? A closer problem was a second, but equally large, force of Spanish pilgrims all wearing green hats, and carrying walking staffs that looked like shepherd’s crooks, if these two armies converged ahead of us it would be nightfall before we reached the head of the line at the Pilgrim Office (to receive our Compostela for our pilgrimage). Full disclosure, no nefarious tactics were used to improve our position. The green hats we simply out paced. As for the flag guy and his army, they stopped just inside the gate to take off their boots. They must have made some pledge to enter the city barefoot. That was all that we needed to slip past.
We came down the Camino past the north door of the Cathedral, and rounded up right in front on the Plaza Obradoiro. I knelt down and offered a quick prayer of thanksgiving, and then we jetted off to the Pilgrim Office on Rua do Vilar. When we arrived the line was just backing up into the street (not bad at all). The green hats and the flag guy were nowhere to be seen (prayers answered). A little over an hour later we had our documents in hand, and were on our way to the Parador to check in. Once this was done we still had about 12 minutes to get to the cathedral for the noon pilgrim mass. As we walked in the north door, We were stunned by the numbers of people in the cathedral. It was simply put, packed. I would estimate that there were at least 4000 people at the mass. Just a wild guess. The botafumeiro was rigged for flight but never took off. The swinging of this huge censor high above the cathedral transepts is a big crowd pleaser at the end of mass. But, sadly, not today. After the mass, we moved out of the cathedral listening to many convesations in several languages. This cathedral is a destination for all those, the world over, who choose to walk the Camino. I must admit I never tire of the excitement it generates. The rest of our day, as you might expect, was spent eating, and drinking. While we were so engaged, I spotted a French guy we met on the Le Puy route. As it turned out he had arrived, via the Camino Frances, yesterday. What fun it was to see him, and share our stories. Camino life is like that. People just seem to turn up when you least expect them. Perhaps it is that unpredictability that helps keep camino life alive, and fresh, just when you might think it isn’t. One thing for sure, it is full of surprises. More later once we have had dome time to think this one through.
In closing, I offer our heartfelt thanks to all those who followed our blog, and offered comments or encouragements. It is always a very special treat to hear from someone when you are far from home, and the day, perhaps, has been less than what you had hoped it would be. Thanks for staying with us, and keeping us going. You do make a difference. That’s it from Santiago, thank you, and good night.

Cathedral Nave
The north transept as we were leaving
A quiet garden for my special girl
Time for cold one
Cathedral repairs now underway

24 thoughts on “Day 64: Amenal to Santiago de Compostela (17 kms)”

  1. Congratulations on your arrival! I have enjoyed reading your regular missives. Happy to hear you met the guy from the Le Puy route. There is something indeed special about the Camino in that quite quickly you come to know and appreciate some people.

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  2. WOW, never thought to lv a message as I read your blog each day (well missed some days)…it was FABULOUS! The pics were clear and sharp…really a delight. Can't wait to “hear the rest of the story” when you get back!!
    What an accomplishment! Hooray!!

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  3. Hi Magaret, thanks for checking up on us. You remain an inspiration to both Robin and I. Good luck on next trip down the Camino Frances. Will this be number 8 or 9? I have lost track.

    Best regards,
    John and Robin

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  4. Hi Dayton and Karen, thanks, as always, for being part of our Camino experience. We have always enjoyed your blog and hope to be reading about your next Camino trip soon. Best of luck to you both.

    John and Robin

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  5. Congratulation Robin and John! Fantastic journey and a wonderful blog. I have enjoyed it every day you have walked and written. You have inspired me to walk the Le Puy in May of 2015. In fact I plan to leave Arizona on May 15th. Thank you so much for the inspiration!
    I'm looking forward to your next adventure.
    Arlène

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  6. Congratulations John & Robin. Alain & I wished we had cut short our trip down to Andalucia and pushed on beyond Santander. We are now back in Toronto all soaked in history and sorting out pictures and reminiscing. It was such a treat meeting the both of you on the trails. Small world indeed!

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  7. Congratulations to both of you! I have been following you from Le Puy, as my husband and I will be walking from there to SJPDP this Sep/Oct. I will be blogging using my iPad mini and Blogsy, so am also interested in how well that worked for you. Would appreciate any tips in that regard! Thank you for taking the time to provide such an interesting and informative blog.
    Linda
    Victoria, BC

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  8. Well done Robin and John, a marvellous achievement. It has been a pleasure and privilege to read your blog every day. Thank you for sharing your journey. God bless!

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  9. Hi Linda, thanks for sharing our journey. The iPad mini and Blogsy are a great combination. The Blogsy website has a lot of information on how to use the software. I would be happy to answer any specific questions you might have. Younhaveca wonderful experience ahead of you. Good luck.

    John

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  10. Hi Robin and John,
    Your journey has been my journey these last weeks. Thanks for sharing it so generously. I appreciate all the details, should I decide to walk from Le Puy. The Camino is a journey but it is also a community of souls. In this way, we are members of the same tribe! Buen Camino. I hope to meet you in person some day. Kate Golden

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  11. Hi Kate, thanks for following our blog, and thanks for connecting Robin with Barbara when she had her leg problem. Amazing how that all worked out. Hope to meet you some day soon as well. Take care.

    John and Robin

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  12. Congrats again!

    When you recover, could you repost your equipment list and any comments on what worked, what was excess, and what was missing? Your thoroughness and assessment would be helpful to the novices who follow. Many thanks, Duke

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