After a restless sleep we departed for Santiago. Yesterday we were sure we walked more than the expected 10 km. It was more like 15km but we had enjoyed resting in the garden and the dinner was early and quite delicious. It was way too much. I felt like I was a stuffed goose! That contributed to my restless night I am sure.
The walk in was very pretty with lots of pretty houses and farmlets and forests. Lots of gum trees here too so we have often felt like we were walking in Australia. We had a couple of stops. One was full of pilgrims grabbing a breakfast. Irene and Bill started talking to a small group from Alicante who had walked from Tui. They were so happy. The next stop was to doctor the Henning’ s feet and a pit stop at the most practical time. An enterprising guy had opened his outside loo for a pilgrim pit stop at 50 cents a pop. When you enter urban or suburban areas it is hard to find a place if you need a toilet stop so this was gratefully paid. In the full season I imagine it is a real money earner!
Along the early part into Santiago there were lots of signs about keeping the areas clean and it is warranted because we have stopped behind a bush and found that it was a well frequented bush with lots of paper around. Pretty yuk really but there were no alternatives. Anne and I are anti paper and only use nature, a fern or other leaves, bunch of grass or a smooth stick. At least nothing out of place is left behind then or if necessary you take your wipe and put it into a plastic bag and dispose of it at the next bin. Those are generally pretty frequent everywhere.
The Portuguese Way takes you in from the South and I felt quite disoriented until I arrived in the old town. I was shocked to see the Cathedral was now beautifully cleaned but the interior and much of the roof at the back is all under restoration. No services are held here, though access to the touching of the St James Statue and the crypt with his relics was still open. I will have to make another visit sometime to see the Cathedral in its full glory. I had felt disappointed for my friends but as they knew nothing else it was still an awesome spectacle to see the people milling in the square and hugging friends, and feeling the satisfaction of completing the journey.
I had started to get very emotional while I was walking in and I had Peter so much on my mind. Our last discussions about life in the future without him and his wish that I would still live joyfully were ever present. It will be ten years since he died this year. All this walking gives me a sense of peace and I feel like I am doing it for him too. He loved to travel but he would not have been too keen on Albergues all the way I am sure! The walking from town to town would have appealed to him if he had been well enough. Probably would have spent most of the time wondering what and were we would eat! Despite being a stick he did love a good meal. Maybe walking with Bill and Irene made me feel that loss more keenly this time but grieving never really stops when you have lost your soul mate.
Because Bill had the bike and is now able to sell it, he wanted to make sure it was safe so we left the cathedral and found our apartment. It is in a great position and is very nicely appointed. The owner came quickly to give us access and shortly after our bags arrived. We were so used to them being in our accommodation when we arrived we panicked a little when they were not there. I rang the company and they checked with the delivery company and it seemed they only get to Santiago about early afternoon. Sure enough the truck was there by the time we had rung off. Portugal Green Walks have been so reliable with our luggage and the arrangements. We have been impressed. Some of the mileage in the guide books seem a bit elastic but I have had that experience with other guide books and don’t see it as a major fault. I would happily recommend the company to anyone interested in doing a supported walk.
By now we were all faint for lack of food. We have become accustomed to a regular intake!! Once more into the old town we ventured. Santiago has a charming old town that is mostly restored but not slick. I love its atmosphere. We all needed money and Bill prefers banks to holes in the wall. The only bank we found was closed for siesta and it’s ATM was not working. I had seen an ATM between some touristy shops and soon we had money for lunch. It was a bit cool so we sat inside in a very tiny little place and all had scrambled eggs and mushrooms and wine! Anne felt she was having wine with breakfast but we were all happy and we finally tried the Torte Santiago that Irene has been hankering for. It is a lemon almond flat cake. Very delicious with coffee or any time really! Now for our Compostella. This being my third visit I have seen the office change from a small office of three people to slightly larger office still right in the old town and this time there were 6 or 8 clerks and digital numbers that direct you to the counter like at the banks at home! We waited for over two hours, almost as long as it took to walk into Santiago this very day! You can imagine the hubbub from hordes of exhausted pilgrims! It was a quite merry affair though physically taxing to stand for so long.
Eventually released from this ordeal with our certificates we shuffled off to a supermarket to get some provisions for breakfast. Irene is determined to have porridge with bananas and dates and nuts with soy milk and nothing or no one will stop her. She is a desperate woman pushed to the limits of her endurance by croissants, cheese, white bread and cake for breakfast. She does make a delicious porridge which I respectfully and gratefully enjoy.
Breakfast sorted it was now time for dinner. Food, food, food is always on your minds when you travel and do not have your own larder or fridge! The owner had suggested a little restaurant down the road that was cheap( tick) and good( double tick). We were all exhausted and didn’t want to go far. We were pleased it had a menu of the day for €8.50 which had lentil soup ( a favourite of Anne and Irene), Chicken or Squid and dessert or coffee and wine. The lentil soup would have been enough in our state but we had the works. The food was pretty good, homemade tasting and the owner charming. Anne and I shared the Galician wine this time- a carafe and two bowls for drinking. It had started to rain and looks like it will set in. Our host has umbrellas also for us and when my automatic opener was pushed I thought I might do a Mary Poppins it had such force.
We shuffled back up the hill and all showered and crashed into bed without a sound.
We had arrived, despite all physical challenges, particularly Anne with a very sore ankle and Bill’s sore foot, (He was determined to walk all the last day into Santiago and he did), weather and missed arrows (very few), arguments about directions and we are still friends. It was a wonderful experience.