On Friday afternoon the first order of the day for Tom and I after collecting our Compostelas was to find lodgings for two nights in this crowded pilgrim and tourist-filled city.
The first hostel we tried was full, as was the second, but the kind hospitaliera at the second hostel knew of a hotel where she thought there might be an empty room for us. So she called and found us a room at a lovely little hotel called the San Clemente on a quiet street a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral area
We got - you guessed it - the last room left in the hotel, though as it turned out our room wasn't exactly in the hotel; to get to our room we had to go down the stairs,
...through the breakfast room and out a door,
....across a terrace to a little annex,
...inside of which was our room.
....where one weary pilgrim could not resist immediately flopping down on the bed.
The price of our cute, comfy "garden room", as the hospitaliera called it, was 72€ per night with breakfast included.
And an awesome breakfast it turned out to be:
With our need for shelter taken care of, we turned our attention to our need for some food. We found a little restaurant down the block from our hotel where we split a salad
....followed by plates of great spaghetti,
...and where the server offered to snap our photo for us.
After lunch we walked back to the old town and cathedral area,
...and it was then, while walking through the beautiful streets of Old Santiago and around the cathedral that the rather strange reality hit us that our Camino was over and that when we left Santiago the day after tomorrow we'd no longer be pilgrims. It wasn't exactly a sad feeling, just a bit strange, and a bit unbelievable that we'd finished another Camino.
But there were many happy moments on Friday afternoon, joyful reunions when we ran into old Camino friends in the streets whom we hadn't seen in days or weeks and whom we'd been wondering about, and it was such a good feeling to see them again and to know that they'd made it,
We were especially excited to see Ken and Jen,
...an awesome and fun Australian couple, he 75 years old, she 73, who were my inspiration at those rough moments on the Camino when little grey grimlies would whisper in my ear that I was too old to be doing this.
Saturday, our last day in Santiago, we spent again strolling the streets,
....meeting up with old pilgrim friends,
.....friends Frank and Jeanette holding their newly-received Compostelas,
....and looking around the cathedral.
The streets of Santiago were so full of restaurants, hotels, and souvenir shops and the cathedral area so full of vendors, hawkers, beggars, street performers, tourists and pilgrims that I thought to myself, it must have been just as lively here during the Middle Ages.
We visited the cathedral and saw the Botafumeiro, the famous giant incense burner that hangs above the altar and is sometimes lowered at the end of Mass then pushed by half a dozen servers and swung high across the cathedral dispensing incense throughout,
.....while additional incense is dispensed from hoses held by angels perched on ledges around the cathedral.
We ended our final day as pilgrims by attending the 7:30 pm Pilgrim Mass in the cathedral, where the first several rows around the altar were reserved for the pilgrims. And so we came together in community once more with our brother and sister pilgrims, one last time before we each returned to our own countries, cultures, and lives such as they would be after the Camino.
This morning we're leaving for Madrid where we'll spend a day before taking a train to Barcelona where we'll visit for three days before returning to Madrid for our November 2 flight back to Columbus.
I expect I'll continue blogging until we return to the States, though I may miss a day or two in transit.
So read on, if you'd like, dear friends, family, greatly appreciated readers, and fellow visitors - as we all are - to this most amazing planet.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Kindle:
or in print:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library