Santiago de Compostella !!!!!Posted: October 19, 2011
The Spanish leg of our Camino Adventure has flown!
The rhythm of our journey seemed to change once we were in Spain. Portugal loves the Camino but it’s Spain that seems to own it. There was always adequate yellow arrows and signs in Portugal but in Spain, the frequency and variety of camino images is immediately evident.
Somehow this seemed to rub off on our little band of pilgrims. Our walkers “got their legs!!!”. Ian, Tony and Geoff, where possible walked the hard yards, and put some miles in completing the suggested days quota. Jo as well, rekindled the spirit that saw her complete the 800 km Camino Frances route, with full back pack, on her own last year., and re-donned the pack and walked some long days. Elaine and I did a combination of car shuffles, shorter walks and I completed some days targets on bicycle – most of the Camino Portuguese way suitable for pedal or foot. However we walked or traveled, we certainly had fun.
The walking, I’m told from the “distance runners” was mostly beautiful. Certainly my experience of the countryside paths was peaceful and varied. The early morning starts always the best, sun rising, mist clearing, birds singing, just the gentle clip clop of 6 pairs of poles hitting the ground, minds deep in thought, some muffled conversations lilting behind.
A melting pot of coffee stops, dinners and varied accommodation took one day into another and we progressed along the way to our destination. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella. When Antonio and I arrived last year we absolutely fluked arriving at midday and the Cathedral bells were peeling. it was an emotional moment and I cried; partly from relief and partly from happiness at having achieved a well earned goal.
This year, we had hoped to arrive together, Team Pink!! Bells would be a bonus. All was going great – until about two kms from our destination we lost each other. You wouldn’t believe it but we did! The “veterans” with five previous Santiago arrivals between us (Antonio 3), managed to lose our “novices” on the track. We had unintentionally streaked ahead and missed a point on the path that offered an alternate route! Not even noticing we kept going and waited for the others to catch up further along the track. As we began to worry that they had not reached us, Antonio went back to see if he could find them. Somewhere there was a yellow arrow indicating an alternate choice we veterans had not noticed – the novices saw it and took it. The short version of the story – the novices continued that way and arrived in Santiago at least 45 minutes before us! They were none too pleased with us thinking we had gone ahead and left them to eat our dust! But it turned out that as we had been waiting for them, walking and wondering, they were settling into their Parador accommodation!
Reunited with puzzlement and much deflatedness we sat and had lunch and felt a bit stunned that our walking days of adventure had come to an end.
Quickly cheered by the liveliness of Santiago I am reminded what a wonderful city it is in which to end a walk. The 11th Century Cathedral has an impressive and stately presence. The winding maze of streets of the old town that lead out from it offer cafes, tourists shops and hotels, all nestled in the stone walls, plazas and tenements. For dinner we found a small restaurant and indulged in lobster and seafood. The following day we met for a “team photo” at 11 am and reveled in the luxury of nothing to do but relax, drink coffee, browse shops and be charmed by the church bells and the constant flow of pilgrims arriving at the cathredral square.
The bad news is, in the early hours of the morning tomorrow, Elaine, Geoff and Ian will be cabbing to the airport to fly home. We will miss our friends company a LOT and wish them a happy journey. The good news is we get to hang on to a piece of home a little longer. Jo is with us for another 8 days and the three of us are hopping into Cubby to do a road trip to the home of Gaudi, Catalan, tapas, bull fights and all things Spanish – Barcelona.
And so ends the Pilgrimage of Team Pink! Collectively we walked (thanks to Ian and Jo), up to 160 kms of the 250 km trail, and we are proud of that.
We have had such a wonderful time and thank our friends for sharing it with us. To follow, some of our favourite photos.