Camino de Santiago de Compostela - A Rua to Santiago The last stage

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October 13th 2015
Published: November 12th 2015
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Emily and MadelineEmily and MadelineEmily and Madeline

Our dedication princesses ready for Halloween
13 October 2015, Tuesday Stage 37. A Rua to Santiago de Compostela. We arrive in Santiago de Compostela

GPS: 13.22 miles. 5 hours 8 minutes moving. Left Hotel O Pino at 0856. Arrived the cathedral in Santiago at 1620. Then spent 90 minutes in the line to get our official Compostela. Get to our lovely Hotel Pazo do Altamira at 1830.

Fitbit: 14.29 miles, 32,712 Steps, 129 Stairs/floors

DEDICATION: For those who have followed all, or some, of the stages of our blog, we would like you to know this idea of recording our camino came as we want our two grand-daughters to know adventures, or caminos, can happen at all stages of life. May their own caminos be rewarding and fruitful. God bless both of them.

O 'Pino hotel had a nice hot breakfast buffet with scrambled eggs, bacon, tomatoes and fresh fruit. The key ingredients for me of a good breakfast. We had a tenth of a mile down the lane across from the hotel to connect with the Camino. Here some vans were bring pilgrims to the Camino from their respective nights accommodations for their start today. We fell into the flow to Santiago
School kids getting off the bus at the schoolSchool kids getting off the bus at the schoolSchool kids getting off the bus at the school

Wow, what fancy transportation! Nary a little yellow school bus in sight!
for the last day of our sojourn.

The path led down and up through dense eucalyptus forests and over some small streams before we arrived at the Amenal tunnel under the N-547 highway. Just beyond we stopped for juice and coffee and the banos. Here we met Gerard Carroll, a city bus driver from Ireland, doing his third Camino - this time from St. Jean. His buddy, Jim, who has had obvious foot issues, walks in sandals wearing only one sock. We learn that Jim was the person who first told Gerry about the Camino. But this is Jim's first time to walk it. Jim is obviously not sharing Gerry's joy of the Camino.

Now we started the first long climb of the day which would take us up past the international airport at Lavacolla. This town was so named as it was the location where medieval pilgrims would wash themselves for the cleansing before reaching the cathedral. We saw and heard a plane take off before we could see any sign of the airport. We make another coffee and potty stop and Gerry again joins us having his second pint of the day on the way. End of the week he will be back in Dublin at work and a teetotaler.

Our second climb is up to Monte del Gozo, the Mount of Joy, where the pilgrims caught their first glimpse of the cathedral towers now obscured by suburban sprawl and trees. We have good, frequent way marks from here, contrary to the notes for the day. They are on posts that appear to have been only recently installed. Past the first TV station antenna for transmitting, we come to Camping San Martin where we stop for a burger and salad. It is now 1330 and we need refueling. Here are the foursome from Aiken, SC. This pleasing encounter plus the refreshing tonicas, prepare us for the next 5 hours. The statue at the top of Monte Del Gozo is large and impressive, commemorating a visit from Pope John Paul II. From this monument we walked down into the suburbs of Santiago. We crossed over several lanes of motorways on overpasses with bikes threatening to run over us on the narrow pedestrian way as they rode up the steep incline onto the pedestrian crossing.

Just inside the first roundabout we came to another memorial with figures engraved in the memorial stones of many of the names of the people we had come to learn about and their contributions to the Camino and pilgrims. Some names we had not encountered.

We walked dozens of blocks towards the cathedral following the scallop shells in the sidewalk. At an intersection near the Old Town wall we got a cup of coffee and used the restrooms. The barista was able to show on a map the location of our hotel and the cathedral. With this orientation we continued on to the cathedral, walking around it, before determining where to get our Compostela Certificate. We visited with other pilgrims while waiting a little more than 90 minutes to be helped. The lady who helped give us the papers was a volunteer from San Francisco. While at the desk a young Asian man was getting his Compostela. The certificates are free but the nice tube to carry it in and protect it is 2 euros. Karen sees that the young man does not have the two euros. He is fumbling with a few coins and sadly coming up short. Karen sees the distress of the young man and asks for two Euros. I give the lady the 2 euros in the true spirit of the Camino. It is a teary moment for all of us.

Compostelas come in several types. If you have indicated you are doing the camino as a spiritual experience and complete all the requirements your certificate is much more elaborate and your name is in Latin. They could not find, in the database, Harlan's first name so his is written out as we use it.

Karen's note: And where did the two Euros come from? The day before we left Henderson, in late June of this year, we were approached by a couple in church. We had attended three services that week-end, mainly to tell of the results of the congregation's generosity toward a young pastor in Ethiopia. However, at each service we received a blessing from our wonderful interim pastor. So, all knew of our pending journey. The couple handed us a $100 bill and they asked that we use the money, along our camino, to help or bless other pilgrims. It is difficult to express how much more meaning that added to the trip. You went from grieving over your own blisters
Gerry from Ireland and his friendGerry from Ireland and his friendGerry from Ireland and his friend

Gerry's third Camino and this time he said, he gets it!
and nursing your own problems to looking outward and 'checking in' on other pilgrims and what their needs were. Little did they know, or-perhaps they might have had an inkling-that the money would totally change our perspective on the trip! Thank you for that blessing.

After getting our certificates we found our hotel. Hotel Pazo de Altamira is a boutique hotel across from the market and very nice. It is only 75 euros a night and the room is lovely. We had dinner at 2030 and retired to contemplate the meaning of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

14 October 2015, Wednesday. A day to explore Santiago de Compostela and attend the pilgrims mass at noon in the cathedral.

Our plan for today was to explore the city and go to the pilgrims mass at noon. Our first stop was breakfast on the other side of the cathedral from our hotel. This restaurant cafe serves American breakfast and has good coffee. Karen had found it on a blog about food in Santiago written by a Texan who had lived here and taught English and, who is a real 'foodie.' His blog is so informative and delightful. He totally fell in love with Spain, especially Galicia, and his website is very informative as well as entertaining. So, for you who wish to really get a feel for this area, or other areas in Spain to which he traveled, check out the following: A Texan in Spain.

After breakfast we returned to the cathedral, showing our pilgrim passport stamps to enter, and walked around seeing the chapels and embraced the statue, behind the altar, of St. James. The mass was celebrated by a procession of priests including our friend from Aiken, S.C. Most memorable was the lighting and swinging of the incensor (botafumeiro) across the nave. The six skilled attendants who swing the massive object are called tiraboleiros. We learned that in ancient times it was to purify the air from the smell of the pilgrims. Today it is to help send our prayers on the way to heaven. This was especially nice since we had been told that they only did this on Friday evenings now. But the cathedral was packed with pilgrims today and more than a dozen visiting priests, many who had just completed the Camino. Seating is for 1,000 and there is a special place for pilgrims but, even then, one must arrive early to to have a seat.

We made our way around the church once more and learned that a mass in English would be celebrated in a separate chapel tomorrow. We would have time to attend this before leaving to catch our flight to Stansted, London tomorrow afternoon.

We now proceeded to find another of the best places to eat in Santiago, according to the Texan's blog, and went to a restaurant, Bodegon Os Concheiros Pulperia, that serves octopus We had octopus and Padron green peppers that are roasted with salt and olive oil. This is definitely not a tourist mecca. We are the only non-locals. The menu consists of about five items and many workers are chowing down. Delicious!

The phone GPS map is now working well so we ventured back across old town to have a good cup of coffee. This venture takes us into another part of the Old City and, indeed, the coffee is very bracing. 'The Venecia' lives up to its press!

We next explore the market that is actually right under our hotel room. Our room is light, airy and sunny. You fling open the shutters on one side and you have a lovely little church; you fling open the other side and there is the market corner. This is a relatively new market and it is spotless. We buy several bars of chocolate and explore.

It is a very lazy day. We walk the streets of old town. As evening approaches we have decided on a restaurant for a nice meal but arrive to find it closed. We ring up the number for the establishment only to find they are totally reserved for the evening. The interesting thing is that we have found the door unlocked when we tried to enter. We finally, after some frustration in locating a place that 'looks interesting,' settle on 'The White Horse' and find out later, in reading the Huxham's blog, that he mentions this place favorably. There is little seating inside but they use the large plaza outside for spill-over. We chose to perch inside as the weather is turning chilly. We have a delicious, 'rustic' meal' starting out with some delicious soup. An elderly man is manning the bar. We are sure he is related to the young man who is scurrying to and fro outside, inside, with food and manning the register.

October 15, 2015 Thursday

We pack our bags, no Jacotrans service today! After some indecision we return to Tertulia for another hearty breakfast. After lingering over coffee we head for the cathedral and find the small chapel where the English mass is given. It is the last day for this service. Visiting priests serve during the high season on the Camino. This service has been offered the last two years and has proven to be most beneficial for those English speaking pilgrims and those who want a small, intimate service. Father Joe, a priest from Ireland, leads the service. He is a funny, kind man. He has each of us give our first name and what pilgrimage route we have used. He then gives a most moving homily about inclusion and being a pilgrim in 'real life.' The service is one of the high points of our journey.

We return to the hotel, rest in the pleasant lounge on the fourth floor until the taxi arrives, right on time. It is a quiet trip to the airport; we watch the city fly by and then the nearby countryside through which we have just recently trod. Lost in thought, we arrive all too soon and lug our possessions into the airport.

Our flight to Stansted is non-eventful and we transfer to Heathrow. We catch the last room at the Holiday Inn at the airport. Dinner is included in the 'deal' but I am too tired to partake and Harlan has salad for me! We have a non-stop flight to to RDU (Raleigh-Durham) and James and the girls are there to pick us up. There is nothing like a welcome from a three year old and a one year old! A few days later, as we talk about our pending trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Madeline announces at the dinner table that she wants to travel with us. Oh, I do hope they both have the travel gene and we will go places with them!

As for the camino experience. I feel like Gerry from Ireland, "I think I may be getting what it is all about!" That feeling is strong enough that when Jo, our friend who did the camino a year ahead of us asked if we might be interested in
An horreos being filled with cornAn horreos being filled with cornAn horreos being filled with corn

Harlan asked an elderly lady, sitting on a porch, if he could take a picture of her horreo--she agreed.
another camino we jointly thought the one that starts at Lisbon or Oporto in Portugal might be worth pondering. I feel much more confident of physical capabilities, I think I might have more empathy for others and hopefully be more inclusive and not so judgmental. Time will tell but as Jo has said, the camino is always in the back of her mind. Buen camino and blessing to all who have followed us along "The Way."

Additional photos below
Photos: 42, Displayed: 30


Monument at Monte GorzoMonument at Monte Gorzo
Monument at Monte Gorzo

Placed here to commemorate a visit by Pope John Paul II
Monument to those who have contributed to the legacy of the CaminoMonument to those who have contributed to the legacy of the Camino
Monument to those who have contributed to the legacy of the Camino

Pope John Paul II. This was such a great likeness of the pope and captured his genuine spirit.

12th November 2015

Father Joe was the priest that was giving the pilgrim service when we were there. He has been there for some time or just keeps coming back. Sounds like you had a great Camino. Bob
12th November 2015

Father Joe
He comes for the peak season and is there for about 6 months. So he would have just started when you were there in May.
12th November 2015

Reading about your pilgrimage to Santiago has been a blessing to me...
I especially liked that someone in your church gave you $100 to help others along the Way. I don't think someone will give me $100, but hope to be on the lookout for those who need help when I walk the Camino next September. I look forward to reading about your forthcoming trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
10th April 2016

The gift of giving.
Bob and Linda, Have not logged on for several months. So sorry we did not update blog with details of our Nicaragua, Costa Rica trip. We will be doing the Camino Portugal in September arriving in Santiago the 24th. Would be great to meet up with fellow Bloggers who have captured ALL the rewards. Harlan and Karen PS staying at the same Hotel Pazo de Altamira again.
10th April 2016

The gift of giving...
I would love to meet you in Santiago. However, I start walking from Pamplona on 7 September and arrive in Santiago on 4 October 2016. I will be staying at Saint Martin Pinerio for three nights before heading home. I will probably blog once a week when I stay at my "recovery" hotels...with a computer/business center. It looks like I'll miss you this time. I look forward to reading your blogs about the Camino Portugal.
10th April 2016

See you Santiago
We will be back in Santiago from our walk to Finisterre so will try to connect on 4th or 5th of October. Ask for Harlan or Karen Sager at Hotel Pazo de Altamira and we will do the same at your hotel when we get back in Santiago. We fly out the 6th of October.
10th April 2016

Wow, that's great!
I'm glad we can connect in Santiago! I will contact your hotel late afternoon of 4 October.

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