Journey’s end

Arrival day in Santiago creates a special kind of energy that allows any pilgrim to walk those final kilometers without restraint. Today we were feeling that energy as we departed our pension just outside of Ponte Ulla. We had roughly 21.5 kms to go to reach Santiago. Today’s weather was a carbon copy of yesterday’s, chilly in the morning and much warmer later in the day. The morning mist clung to the hillsides filtering the daylight that struggled to both illuminate and warm us. We made our way into the nearby eucalyptus forest enjoying its fragrance and started climbing towards Santiago. The day passed by as we wandered through and then out of the forest and then down into the outer suburbs of Santiago. It was a vigorous walk. Robin and I typically don’t take many (if any) breaks once we start walking, but today at the 5 km to go mark we threw in the towel and stopped for a coffee break. 15 minutes later we were back on the trail and climbing again. We finally crossed under a freeway that we viewed earlier from a great distance. Progress was being made. We had been in the grind out the kilometers mode for awhile. This mode is perhaps best described as just walking until you bump into the cathedral. But, this afternoon, before we bumped into the cathedral, we saw it over some rooftops. We were definitely in the home stretch.

We love this city with all its myriad pilgrim activities, and moss covered stonework. We have made some great friends and have discovered new promising paths that have directed  our faith journey. All while we have enjoyed the bounty of this beautiful country and the spirit of hospitality that generally abounds. What’s not to like about that.

So we arrived in front of the cathedral, snapped a photo and headed off to the Pilgrim Office to sort out our paperwork and receive our Compostelas (certificate of completion). We then stepped across the office entryway and into the pilgrim chapel where Robin and I offered our prayerful thanks for arriving safely. Immediately after that we walked a few steps up the street to find a plate of pulpo and two very cold beers.

We then checked into the Parador (our usual post camino indulgence), dashed off to the laundromat, met some Portland friends for a drink, did some shopping, arranged a lunch with other friends for tomorrow, and confirmed a lunch date for Thursday with our friend Kathy from Portland, who is now living in Ourense. We will attend the Pilgrim mass at the cathedral tomorrow at noon, and make sure we give St. James a big hug. We have much to be thankful for. So with a busy day behind us and some enjoyably busy days ahead, I think it is time to sign off from Santiago and try to get some sleep.

Peace be with you.

8 thoughts on “Journey’s end”

  1. Hi again. I just checked in and found your new blog. Had to read it in one sitting. Sorry I missed the start and couldn’t follow daily, but nevertheless, another wonderful read. The photos were spectacular. You two have set the standard on winter Caminos. I remember finding your first blog out of the blue years ago and have enjoyed following you ever since. Glad you survived your ordeal on the mountain. Pretty scary. Karen and I have been helping out with our grandchildren so haven’t been able to dedicate the proper time for a Camino. I think we have another one left.
    All the best to both of you. Dayton and Karen


    1. Hi Dayton, we are now heading home from Santiago. It has been a bit of a challenging camino, but always an amazing journey. We certainly do not plan on another night out on a mountain, mid winter, but even with that some important lessons were learned. So, home this afternoon, and then we will see what other camino calls us back. Hope all is well with you and Karen.



    1. Thanks Michael. It was for us a pivotal camino. We made some serious mistakes but managed, by the grace of God, to find our way through those very challenging times heading to Arantzazu. The rest of the route was a lot more peaceful and quite stunning, thoroughly enjoyable. Hope all is well with you.


  2. I saw your adventure that day – and night and day – but that was the last post I was able to read before catching up today. That is an incredible story that I don’t think I would have been able to deal with. That’s one reason we don’t do winter Caminos! If I were you two, I’d be pretty impressed with myself for successfully dealing with it. It should only make you stronger, wiser and more confident.

    All is well here. We were preparing for an April Arles Camino but got sidetracked with some minor medical issues. We’re still planning on walking but we will start less fit than I hoped.


  3. Do you have a list of your stages and distances? From reading your entries it sounds like you took taxis to a couple of the accommodations along the way. I am in the process of planning for next Spring and I’d like to do it in about 15 or 16 days (including a rest day somewhere).
    Another question, I saw a couple of videos on YouTube and it looked like a lot of asphalt walking. Did you think there was a lot on this Camino? A little each day or just certain days where it was all road walking? Thanks!


    1. I do not have a stage list, but there are many available online. Robin and I typically modify any 20+ mile day by either finding a mid way place to stay or by taking a taxi, usually on the front end, to reduce the mileage. The pavement issue is not really a problem. Yes, you will almost always find some pavement each day, but the roads are usually rural and quiet. We never really gave it a thought. Every camino that we have walked has had a lot of road walking. But, all that aside it is a wonderful and beautiful camino. Don’t let anything dissuade you from walking it. You will be pleasantly surprised. 15-16 days is more than enough time to walk this route. Enjoy it and good luck. Buen camino.


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