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Camino de Santiago 2018

Day 34 Santiago de Compostela - We've Arrived!

SPAIN | Tuesday, 3 July 2018 | Views [234] | Comments [2]

So excited as we leave Amenal this morning on the last leg of our 500-mile hike from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela along the Camino Frances, the Way of St. James. For a couple pilgrims who have hiked 33 days, we have an amazing lightness to our step today. It's raining, but no one cares. All the hikers we see are smiling and joking. Jeff tried to tell the Grand Canyon joke (you knew it had to happen!), but it didn't translate well...even with his amazing pantomimes. 

As we near San Marcos we come upon this amazing pilgrimage statue. On the sides are images of Pope John Paul II and St. Francis. The two pilgrims on top are directing hikers down the hill toward Santiago...where they will climb the hill through town to the Cathedral (Dintaman & Landes, 2017).

This sign sits on a freeway on-ramp just outside Santiago, population 96,000. Seems like this would make for an interesting commute to work.

This Templar welcomes us to Santiago. He's stationed here to watch over the entering pilgrims.

 Entrance to Santiago via the Camion route. Pilgrims add everything from shoes to flags to stickers.

The City of Culture of Galacia sits on a small hill overlooking Santiago. It houses the Heritage Research Center and History Museum, the Galacian National Archive, Galician National Library, and the International Art Center and Performing Arts Center (retrieved from:https://archinect.com/features/article/91086/showcase-city-of-culture-of-galicia).


As we get close, several encouraging signs tell us it's only 1,000 meters to the Cathedral!


We walk through the arch into the Cathedral square and are always amazed by the grandeur of this building. This is our third visit to Santiago and each time part of the Cathedral has been under rennovation. You can see the scaffolding on the west side. Pilgrim mass is held midday every day. Dark sky in the morning, blue sky this afternoon. An excited group of pilgrims enter the square behind us.



After a brief walk around the Cathedral square we head to the Compostela office to receive our official Compostela certifying that we walked from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago. The line this year is shorter than the past two years--only 45 minutes. The first year was two hours, the second over an hour. After taking this photo, I was not-too-politely informed by a security guard that no photos are allowed. The guards and the rules are new to us this year. By the time we received our Compostela, the line was twice as long, around the corner and outside.


We always meet the most interesting pilgrims in this line! This is Jean-Marie who hiked 91 (!) days from Belgium, through France and then through Spain to Santiago, 2,160 kilometers! We are wimps compared to Jean-Marie! He retired in January and told his wife that he wanted to do the pilgrimage while he was still able. His wife met him in towns on the trail three times, bringing him a new pair of boots and more sunscreen. The most interesting thing he shared was that he joined a network in France that set him up to stay with families on the trail where, for a very reasonable fee, he would be given a bedroom, and dinner and breakfast with the family. When he would near a town where he wanted to stop, he would send a text to the network. They would contact host families in that town and one would text Jean-Marie with an invitation to stay. Snuck this photo in line... Bad photographer!!

We are staying again this year a the Parador Reyes Catolicos, right on the Cathedral square. It's an incredible building that was started in 1499, originally built as a hospital to "shelter and restore the battered bodies of the pilgrims who triumphed over the last stage of the Way of St. James." - Santiago Parador Museum. The building was like a small city with priests, health workders, accountants, wine cellar, stables, medicinal garden and a jail. ...hmmm. Over the years it also housed orphans and others in need. Now it has very comfortable beds, amazing showers and a wonderous soaking tub! Every pilgrims dream. Did we mention an important lesson we learned last year? "Never, ever waste a bathtub on the Camino!" Hike 500 miles and you'll know what we mean... Those dogs are barkin' at the end of the day.

The beautiful Parador hotel  is build of thick limestone walls and has a number of restful courthards.



This horse carriage is parked beside the Parador. It's used primarily for dignitaries and weddings. The Queen of Spain was visiting the newly restored statuary in the Cathedral when we arrived and most of the square was blocked by local police, federal police and Spain's version of Secret Service. We were hoping to see her in this carriage, but she evidently left in a Mercedes instead. The visit caused quite a stir in the area. Locals were packed into viewing areas around the perimeter of the Cathedral square hoping for a glimpse.

We always stop for a photo at the Guardia Civil substation adjacent to the Cathedral. I guess those Catholics need close supervision! Haha.


Guardia Civil police agency crest.

Amazing statues can be found on nearly every corner in Old Town Santiago.


The Paradores all offer the most amazing buffet breakfast. Breads, cheeses, fruit, eggs, meats, pastries, yogurt, fresh orange juice, coffee, potatoes and vegetables. The photos below show about half of the items available. Yummy! This holds us until dinner!


To walk off our breakfast we do some souvenir shopping and tour the city campus of the University of Santiago. We visited the main campus, a few miles from here, two years ago. The downtown campus focuses on biotechnology. We stop for a photo with the "thinking professor." I guess that was redundant...

Stopped for a Cafe Con Leche while shopping. Comfy chairs and dark wood panels in this Bistro.

We will travel home tomorrow after an absolutely amazing journey. We hope you enjoyed visiting the Camino with us. We truly appreciated comments, texts, emails and your prayers for our safety and good health. Jeff and Donna




Of the three treks that you've made, do you have a favorite?

  Laurie Jul 4, 2018 9:57 AM


WOW...what an amazing quest, journey, challenge. But most of all what I love ❤️ is that you found each other in life and shared this joyous adventure with us. Thank you so much.

  Carol Tomlinson Jul 10, 2018 12:26 AM

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