Camino Day 23, Weds 19/6/02:

18 km today
786 total

At long last! The going was tough, but when you're this close, you're just carried along. The way itself was fine, the weather overcast - perfect walking conditions. My feet, alas, were far from fine, and were very sore. I could definitely do with some rest. But anyway. The way itself is seemingly interminable; various signs and waymarkers all give different distances to Santiago. Stopped in Monte del Gozo, traditionally the point at which pilgrims could see the cathedral of Santiago for the first time (hence "Mount of Joy") - alas, the haze and overcast made it impossible to see anything but a faint blur.
Heading off once more, I finally made the outskirts of the town at 9pm, reaching the incredible cathedral at 10. Even this early, the place was alive with bustle.

I just sat down in the big square and gaped. Many pilgrims in various states of (dis)repair, three German cyclists in particular weeping on their arrival. Journey over.

The way

Amenal (77K)

At long last!

Santiago (50K)

The Cathedral

Santiago (51K)

More Cathedral

Santiago (35K)

Rousing myself, I explored the awesome cathedral, went to the pilgrim's mass at 12, touched the statuary inside (there are all sorts of traditions and rituals to be observed), got my credencial stamped, and picked up my compostela (which apparently gives me time off purgatory or something; I was never well up in the doctrine.)

The Compostela document (984x1635, 1180K)

For whatever reasons, I ended up not taking any pictures inside the cathedral. Here are some I found on the website (warning: site contains Shockwave animations.)

Santiago the apostle

Botafumeiro with incense cloud

Cathedral by night

I had a superb lunch in Casa Manolo and found a pensión two minutes walk from same. (You needn't worry about finding accomodation - the cathedral square is crammed with little old ladies who will ask you if you're looking for somewhere to stay...)
I wandered back to the pensión at 3 to take a quick siesta and only woke up again at 8 - evidently I am acclimatising to the Spanish way of life.

Wandering around later, it was very easy to spot my fellow peregrinos: by their limping shall ye know them...

More Cathedral

Santiago (77K)


He shoots - he scores! (64K)

Tourist trap

Santiago (96K)

Restaurante Marisquería

Santiago (114K)
The following day, there was a huelga general - a general strike. Nearly all shops and bars were shut, which was a bit of an anticlimax. However, just by exploring the town, I managed to meet quite a few people I'd met on the camino; Ted and Jonathan, Alice and High-Wycombe-guy-whose-name-I've-forgotten, Aussie Alex and Dublin John...

The general consensus was that it felt great to have finally arrived, but the camino and its passengers (to coin a phrase) was more important than the destination. At the risk of sounding trite, "the journey was the reward."