We started out before dawn with our headlamps on. Fourteen miles to hike and the day will be hot, especially when walking through the city streets of Santiago, and a storm is predicted in the afternoon.

I understand how contemplative this journey can be. It’s easy to let my mind wander and think deep thoughts as I walk through the eucalyptus trees. 

I’m not ready for the end of the Trail. I wish I could walk the Camino in the Pyrenees, Pamplona, Sarria and Leon. Really, I could just transport up to Saint Jean Pied de Port right now and start at the beginning.

It isn’t long before we reach the Santiago city limits. 

There is a lovely park with statues and monuments related to the Camino. Pope John Paul commemorated the walk of Saint Francis of Assisi on the Camino.

Via con Dios. 

Now we follow the shells in the pavement through the suburbs.

Thunder rumbles overhead, walking the narrow streets of old town Santiago.

It was quite disappointing to arrive at the Cathedral of Saint James. The entire front facade was encased in scaffolding and blue construction netting for extensive restoration. I couldn’t see a thing and had to borrow this photo from Google. It is still majestic and an emotional end of the journey for many pilgrims. The sacred relics of St. James lie beneath the cathedral’s high altar in a silver coffer. Since the Middle Ages it has been the custom of pilgrims to pray with their fingers pressed into the roots of the Tree of Jesse below Saint James, and five deep indentations have been worn into the marble as a result. At the beginning of the Pilgrim Mass in Santiago de Compostela, a list is read out of the number of pilgrims who have been received in the Pilgrims’ Office in the last 24 hours, where they come from and where they started their pilgrimage. 

We were much too late to attend the Pilgrims Mass but Laura and Tim take their Passports to the Pilgrim Office to be authenticated. Along the way, pilgrims must obtain two stamps a day from designated churches and other official sites and they must walk the last hundred miles.

Success! Laura and Tim are both granted their Compostela.

Time for serious celebrating. Lots of things are going on in the enormous square around the Cathedral. Folk dancers, bagpipers, street artists, lots of venders have souvenirs for sale.

We sat on the massive stone stairs on the back of the cathedral and listened to an orchestra.

All along the Camino, we tried traditional pilgrim and regional food. St. James almond cake, bean soup with turnip greens, fresh bread and green olives. Gary developed a serious taste for bocadillas– sandwiches with Iberian ham and cheese. I was doubtful of pulpo, octopus! grilled and served in a smoked paprika sauce, but Gary is game for anything. I just put those ugly tentacles out of my mind and tried a bite. Delicious! Really! We polished that sucker right off. (I know…I just couldn’t resist!)

Travel is for enlightenment and gastronomic discovery, right? I don’t want any experience to pass me by!

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  1. Lynne Laino says

    What beautiful sights!! I discovered grilled octopus a few years ago and now order it whenever I see it on a menu!!

  2. Leslie Skibo says

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Your photos and journal are so inspiring!

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