Day 27 – O Faramello to Santiago de Compostela – 13.5mi/22km
We had an early morning today and slowly but surely made our way to Santiago. The day into Santiago is the culmination of a journey that people take for hundreds of miles over several weeks, or dozens of small sections over several years. And for some, a massive mental, physical, and/or spiritual test. I imagined that to knock it out in 11 days would feel inferior considering that David, Finn, and Lis had walked nearly a month straight from Lisbon to get here.
All that thinking got put aside when we reached Santiago’s Praza do Obradoiro, where each year, hundreds of thousands of peregrinos mark the end of their Camino. We smiled, hugged, took photos, greeted familiar faces from the last few weeks, and expressed relief at the accomplishment. One of the best parts of this city is seeing the smiles of accomplishment on hundreds of people’s faces every day as they reach a goal they’ve worked so hard and come so far for. Mornings and afternoons in the Praza are full of ebullient pilgrims both happy and relieved. Evenings feature hundreds of small group dinners where peregrinos recount the many inside stories and jokes and shared experiences within the “Camino families” that helped them get here.
And nights are a joyous affair where peregrinos celebrate with one another before inevitably parting ways, their pilgrimage finally at an end. We did all of these things, having quiet but joyous drinks and dessert until nearly 1am. We said Finn’s “nice to meet you!” cheers to each other countless times and to various strangers just for fun. We bought round after round as the minutes flew by and we sensed that this long journey we had been on was slowly winding down. We talked about where we each were going next – back home, more travels, or in my and David’s case, more hiking.
David and I have 3 more days to hike to Finisterre – which the Romans thought was the “end of the world” – for a third time in just 6 years. That is a grueling trek and yet I sense that I’ll find the answers and spiritual comfort I’m looking for on the way. We’ll return to Santiago after that and on that final day, I’ll consider the lessons I’ve learned and the wisdom I’ve sought while on this journey.
After 27 days and 725km(450mi) I’ve finally arrived in Santiago! It was a long and at times very difficult journey but it’s always worth it. It’s hard to believe I’ve done it three times in five years now. It’s easy to split the trip into two sections of before Porto and after, both of which had their own challenges. Overall I enjoyed it.
The Porto to Santiago stretch was definitely more enjoyable for me than Lisbon to Porto. Although it feels like the Frances most of the time, it just lacks the duration of it, so it feels a bit shorter than you’d like it to be.
Entering Santiago from the south this time around was different and provided it’s own views of the city.
We didn’t have far to go this morning so we took our time. There was an unspoken slowness in the group so that we could appreciate the last time together and walking.
There was much eating and drinking to celebrate the arrival here. Nilanj and I will continue 3 more days to the coast but that’s more for closure to a journey than a celebration.
We celebrated until around 1am reminding memories and appreciating the walk to get here. I’m thankful I was surrounded by good people once again. It was a good time!