Day 36 on to Santiago.
It was with a fair bit of sadness that we started our daily routine in the dark with our headlamps, backpacks and walking poles for what would be the last walk of the camino. In spite of some very long and tiring days and some foot, back and hip pain, we were going to miss the very simple life of the pilgrim where everything you need is carried on your back.
We arrive in Santiago to find a very modern and busy city. Where are the cobbled streets and ancient buildings we were anticipating? We had to walk a fair distance to reach the old part of town where the Cathedral is located.
Finally we arrive in the old quarter and find our hotel directly across the square from the cathedral. The picture below is not the cathedral but our hotel! The Hospideria San Martin Pinario, also the location of the major seminary for this area. The hotel is an upscale hotel that we would never have afforded to stay in if it were not for an Irish pilgrim named Mike. He had been in Santiago several times and told us that the hotel has a section of rooms that they reserve just for pilgrims. They are not advertised, you just have to know they are available. You need to email and let them know you are a pilgrim walking the Camino and if there are still rooms available they let you reserve one for 20Euros per person. It is an incredible deal and you are right in the middle of historic Santiago.
Finally we get to the Plaza in front of the cathedral, the endpoint of all the various stages of the camino and the home of the remains of Saint James the Apostle.
Unfortunately the main entrance will be closed of a number of years as there is a major cleaning and restoration underway with a projected completion date of Spring 2021. But even with all the scaffolding in place this is a very impressive building. Tomorrow we will attend the mass for pilgrims at noon and hope that we will get to see the swinging of the Botafumeiro, a large thurible that swings from the ceiling.
We will save visiting the main body of the church until tomorrow. By mid afternoon we had collected our compostelas, the official document in latin that you have completed the pulgrimage. And we were tired.
After resting for a while we wandered around until we found a delightful old world looking restaurant that served dinner all day long and not only after 8PM as so many Spanish restaurants do and sat down to a wonderful celebratory dinner with awesome gin & tonics!
Then on the way back to our room we ran into our friend Betina and her daughter Clara who invited us to go out with them for a glass of wine. So off we went in search of a bar for a bit of wine and munchies. On the way we stopped and listened to a harpist playing on the side of the street. All in all it was a very long but eventful day and I was glad to finally meet my pillow.