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Beautiful Santiago....... Today I can enjoy you !!

Slept in until 8am..... Amazing and such a nice feeling!!!! So weird to not be walking at least 20 Km's and when I looked at my watch at 11 am had the thought that I should have walked at least 20 km by this time!!!

Booked in another night here as can't be bothered moving. Found the place where the airport shuttle bus leaves tomorrow so I know the way and and timed it - will be a 20 minute walk.

Walking back I decided to follow the pilgrim trail into town and felt the excitement I lacked yesterday in my exhaustion!!!! Got to the cathedral square just after 9am before too many of the crowds of bus tourists arrived. Massive impressive cathedral which has 4 beautiful squares on all sides.

There were a few pilgrims arriving into the square with backpacks from the albergue just 5 km out of town. Feels amazing being here and I actually feeling like I am not going to drop dead from exhaustion today . I made it .... Yippee. Didn't get to walk the whole 800 km but happy with the 665 km I did in 22 days on foot. Ended up doing 135 km by bus/taxi so that I can get home early to spend 2 weeks with my oldest son and his family before they move to the states. Works out at an average of 30 km a day. I am amazed at what our bodies can do when pushed and how it only took about 10 days for your body to adjust to walking big distances each day.

Wandered around the cathedral before the crowds started arriving for midday mass, grabbed a hot chocolate in the delightful Praza de Fonseca which had a square with lovely gardens of red and white flowers. At 11 am went back to the cathedral that was already filling with pilgrims for the midday service. Grabbed a seat in the sides section off the ain nave ( thanks to recommendation of my German roommate last night) for the best viewing of the swinging Botafumeiro ( giant incense burner)

The church was packed with over 1000 people and wasn't that exciting as I couldn't understand a word. It had 20 priests, a singing nun and they also gave or communion to those who wanted it.

The hour long service was LONG but the swinging of the incense was stunning! It took 6 men on ropes to swing it across the church al st to the ceiling on both sides. People in the first few rows had to sit down so it wouldn't hit them. Fragrant incense poured out through the church. It was originally done to fumigate the sweaty disease ridden pilgrims!!!!! Everyone clapped when it finished ...was very exciting !

Went out for a seafood paella with a Belgian guy from my dorm whose language is very colurful.Ended up staying in the atmospheric outside seating chatting with other pilgrims also eating there and catching up on my blogs. Met a lady who had done the northern route on her own which is very difficult and not busy. She had a few days where she saw no- one and was son,Kelly and then had a lock guy try to assault her on a deserted tram and she had to fight him off. She was 60 years old and so brave and continued the walk!

Think I will do some more walking and exploring of this gorgeous town and will write more later.

Finishing this the next day..... Had a lovely few hours wandering around this gorgeous city and soaking up the atmosphere. Lots of pilgrims, tourists, buskers playing amazing music on bagpipes, flutes and other wierd and wonderful instruments.

The cathedral is surrounded by squares or prazas and each is so unique a d great to just sit on a stone bench and people watch and soak up the atmosphere. I hung out awhile in each one and then walked the historic route around the city and parks and found so many old churches, convents and intimate little squares....just divine !!!!! Had a drink and tapas before heading back to the hostel around 8.30 pm. Have loved my time in Spain!!!!

So my camino thoughts, impressions and remembrances..........

Loved the old stone villages and how they changed over the 800 km from region to region. From very pristine and white with red shutters and flowering window boxes at the beginning with high church steeples to more rough chunky stone homes to flat stone homes ( many crumbling ) with churches that were small and blended in more without a big spire. In Galicia the villages were were very much working farm villages which smelt of cow dung and you dodged the cow patties as you walked the main street and often encountered cows being herded down the main street

Main street of all villages is called Calle Mayor

Have had bed bug bites twice over several parts of my body !

Had the biggest blisters and most blisters I have ever had in my life. My feet look disgusting and look like I walked barefoot! I think they will be horrified when I go for a pedicure !!!

Saw a badger run across the track in front of me in the dark on my last morning...my first wildlife

Villages towards the end didn't have the bigger squares or plazas

Meeting people that had walked from Austria, Germany and France - for some a distance of 2600 km!!

Not sure if I mentioned that to stay in the albergue's ( pilgrim hostels) that you had to show and get your credentials stamped. You could also do this in many churches and cafes on the way as well.

Everyone you passed would call out Halo and Buen Camino

Loved the Fuentes ( fountains ) everywhere that you could drink out of when they said agua potable and it saved you having to carry as much water.

Love how all the oldies and families and kids came out to hang in the square around 5.30 pm as siesta was finishing.

Loved being able to buy fresh fruit from honor tables outside homes

Love the spirit and feel of the camino and the easy camaraderie amongst people and that most people started on their own.

Found it difficult having to go so fast and move way ahead of people I had met and then not be able to see familiar faces as I started doing double days.

Loved how my fitness dramatically increased and my body toughened to face the challenges it was given.

There were scary moments on my own where I would have loved to see another human in the distance but didn't see anyone for hours. These times old be lonely and was so exciting when you saw someone again !!! ( espeally if they spoke English !!!)

There were moments of wonder and appreciation as I walked through ancient woods of mist and fern covered gnarled massive oak, beech and chestnut trees . The trees met and made cool dark canopies to walk through

Never tired of seeing old stone walls, bridges and homes.

So excited when the path was smooth and compact dirt instead of the never ending rocks that caused so much pain when your foot stepped on them the wrong way sending sharp pain into blisters and cracks in your feet

Never worried me to share a room with up to 50 others. Have got used to showering in the smallest most impractical spaces with no hooks to hang anything ! Got used to taking tissues with me to the toilet as often the paper had run out.

Was over pilgrims meals by the 3rd week !

Sure there is lots more I could write in summary.... But really was an experience of a lifetime that I am so glad I got to do. So unique in every aspect, the openness of people to share their hearts and hurts, their openness to spiritual matters and knowing that thousands have done this over the last thousand years and praying that they encountered the true and only way in life as they walked " the way"

Cathedral from the gardens

Cathedral from the gardens


Cathedral

Cathedral


Pilgrims Office

Pilgrims Office


Lanes

Lanes


Statues

Statues


Nuns

Nuns


Massive Front Door of cathedral

Massive Front Door of cathedral


Pilgrims Mass

Pilgrims Mass


Bofumeriere swinging incense

Bofumeriere swinging incense


Incense

Incense


Buskers

Buskers


Santiago city wall

Santiago city wall


Cathedral and square

Cathedral and square


Buskers 2

Buskers 2


Beautiful old buildings

Beautiful old buildings


Mass

Mass


Santiago

Santiago


Paella

Paella


Cool cafe- we sat outside

Cool cafe- we sat outside


View of cathedral from city park

View of cathedral from city park


Tapas/snack with my coke

Tapas/snack with my coke


My well worn guide book

My well worn guide book


The helpful maps

The helpful maps


How my feet looked at the end!

How my feet looked at the end!


Feet 2

Feet 2


Feet 3

Feet 3


Feet 4

Feet 4

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in Spain

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