Rua to Santiago De Compostella. 790 kilometres later…..
“It isn’t the destination that matters, but the journey itself”
And so we have arrived. We set off from St. Jean Pied De Port on Thursday 23rd August, and our journey has now concluded on Saturday 29th September. Despite a few setbacks along the way, it has been a fantastic experience; we’ve made lots of new friends from different countries, and seen some amazing sights as we’ve travelled along. There have even been times when we thought Blistardo was going to sabotage the entire Camino trip, but, despite my suggestion that she might want to miss out a couple of stages, Carolyn hung in there and completed every single metre of the route. Huge respect!
The cathedral is beautiful, as is the centre of the city. Deep down I always knew that reaching here was unlikely to significantly change anything for us, but our experiences over the last few weeks will stay with us forever. We have been incredibly lucky with regard to the weather (as I may have mentioned once or twice), and that has undoubtedly set the tone for everything that has unfolded since.
We had a brief look round the cathedral upon our arrival. The actual main area of the church is smaller than I expected : it holds about a thousand people, apparently. The iconic thurible that was used to dull the stench of the rancid pilgrims hundreds of years ago sits in front of the altar suspended from a rope. It’s not quite as big as I imagined, but it’s still huge. We’re planning on going to the pilgrims’ mass tomorrow at midday. Hopefully we’ll see it swing then. The exterior of the building is quite awe inspiring: the sheer size of it takes your breath away. As I said, once inside, you seem to lose that impression of vastness, with the interior broken up into smaller chapels, museum, shop and several other ante rooms. Mass should still be quite an experience, however. Once that’s over, and we’ve validated all our pilgrim’s passports, the Camino experience is officially at an end.
When we got to the main plaza outside the cathedral today, the Saltires were unfurled and it was photo time for all of the Scots contingent. Once again we must mention Helen, who for the second consecutive day walked every step of the route. Immense willpower, H! Our Australian friend Simon also overcame all his recent setbacks to complete his Camino walk today with fellow Aussies John and Vicky. Well done to all! We got some excellent snaps and settled down for a couple of well earned (well we thought so) drinks in the afternoon sunshine. A useless fact about the cathedral clock’s face : it has one hand which is shaped like an arrow, and chimes only on the hour (well, how will it know when to chime outwith that?).
It’s been a long but utterly absorbing journey. We’ve met loads of fascinating people from all corners of the globe who have had interesting stories to tell and have impressed us hugely in many cases with their conviction to their faith. I don’t think it has greatly altered our perspective on things, but it has certainly reinforced our faith in human nature. Blistardo aside, it has been a wonderful few weeks, culminating with our friends coming over to support us during the camino’s latter stages. Inspirational, and appreciated more than we can say!
Finally, a huge thankyou to everyone who was good enough to donate money to the charity off the back of this walk. Your kindness is, as we’ve said before, very much appreciated !
Today’s album track is “No Surprises” by Radiohead, because it always makes us think of Lisa. And we still miss her every hour of every day.