Day 24: Santiago!
This morning there was only 20 km to cover to the destination of my pilgrimage: Santiago de Compostela. As some early birds in the Albergue already felt that 5am was a decent time to get up and in the mean time wake their neighbor beds too with their noise I was out early too. The downside of an early walk (mine started at 6:30am) is that one can not really enjoy the environment. In earlier stages of the Camino 6:45 was a good start. That was in stages without forests and hence the light came earlier. Today the first stretch was straight through an, undoubtedly, beautiful Eucalyptus forest. However, I could only smell it and needed my flashlight to find my way.
Not exactly my preference of walking through the forest, but today there was a goal with a time cap: be in Santiago for the 12 o’clock mass. And I made it: around 10:30am I entered the main square in front of the cathedral. It was a strange moment, good to be there: reached the purpose of the pilgrimage. But does it now, meaning will I stop walking ….. actually no. Like the ancient pilgrims, I will continue to Finisterre (Fisterra) and Muxia. As the Galicia tourist office writes it so well in their brochure I can only quote them:
Continuing with an old tradition, many pilgrims are not satisfied with just reaching Santiago, but continue on towards Fisterra and Muxia. In the first case, the aim is to reach the western limits of the ancient world, full of myths and legends. In the second case, the aim is to reach the sanctuary of A Virxe de Barca, where tradition tells that a boat came ashore bearing the Virgin Mary, on a visit to give encouragement to St. James in his work preaching the gospel in the Iberian Peninsula.
As the previous 790 km went quite prosperous I have about a short week left to walk to Fisterra and Muxia. I always hoped the Camino would allow for time to complete it with these two historical places too and I am glad to have that time and hence complete the Camino properly.
So, I have arrived, but yet another 120 km to go!
The cathedral of Santiago
My official Compostela as a proof of my completed pilgrimage.
The mass is about to start. During the mass no pictures were allowed. The famous Botafumeiro, the 160 cm large silver layered thurible was not used as it is only used in special occasions. Unfortunately ascension day did not appear to be special enough for the Botafumeiro.
An early way-mark in the flash light: 17,5 km to go. Later on these marks disappeared and my guide had already warned me to add another 4 km to them as they were not completely correct anymore.