13 miles today, but only 3 on the Camino! Because today was arrival day. Instant coffee and shared breakfast at Monte de Gozo, then the 6 of us headed to the city. Another coffee stop (real coffee!) with other pilgrims, then we set off again
A perfect welcome to the old town: the typical Galician experience of rain! A drizzle, a sprinkle, a downpour! No pictures of the actual arrival to the cathedral because my phone (camera) didn’t like the rain.
Oh, we also got a not so nice welcome to the city by a runner, who spat at the gutter in our direction just as he went by. No need for that, he could have waited 5 steps and he would have been past us. And an older man who hocked up a big one while coughing in front of his store. That ended up on the ground next to us as well. So only fitting that the sky should also start spitting.
We said bye to Javi, who set out today for Finisterre, and headed to the albergue at the minor seminary to register and drop off our things. Then to the pilgrim office to get our Compostela, and to the Franciscan church to get the special anniversary (800 years) compostela from there. I wanted to get to Mass with plenty of time to spare, so I left the others finding lunch and set off in the downpour.
Which quickly turned in to a deluge! No kidding, a river coming down the steps next to the cathedral. My poncho mostly did its job, but I was wet from the knees down and a bit where the seams of the poncho are. Good thing I had my long sleeved shirt in a plastic bag with me, because that made Mass so much more comfortable.
I had a good seat for Mass, and prayed for all your intentions. I made a quick visit to the relics of St James and thought about going to confession, but no one was available in English and one priest said it wasn’t ok if we didn’t speak the same language.
A highlight of Mass (besides receiving Jesus, of course) was that I could actually sing some parts! The Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were all sung in the simple tone with which I am familiar. And the communion song, though in Spanish, was one I knew in English, so I sang anyway!
And a highlight after Mass: finding Petra! Or rather, she found me. Wonderful reunion. Tim had ended up behind me at Mass and had previously met Petra, so we then found the others and went out to lunch. To a chain restaurant that we were at 2 weeks ago in Santander- the 1€ on Sundays place. It was empty when we got there and we stayed for over 2 hours eating and drinking and having great fun. A good way to spend the afternoon.
We split up then and met up again later. I headed to the train station to get my ticket for Friday night to Madrid. When I looked online, it was only 3€ more for a bed instead of a seat, but they must segregate by gender because there were none at that price available for women. So, I have a seat, but a window seat at least.
We met up again and had drinks and tapas at other places, but it felt like lunch was our last day celebration, and the evening was more mellow. Tash is off to visit a friend in Portugal, Vittorio is off somewhere else, Tim is staying in Santiago another day, and Petra, Marco, Alessandro and I are heading to Finisterre. It is 3 more days to the ocean once again! And maybe a day beyond that to Muxia, but that decision will happen then.
I don’t want to say that arriving was a letdown, nor do I really want to compare to last year, but it was all a bit different. Not as emotional and not as exciting. The mood was definitely festive, but with all the people with different reasons for being here, it wasn’t exactly the experience I was expecting. No major epiphanies or emotional response. It is ok, but a bit surprising. After 32 days of walking, I expected a bit more.
It was a great day, though. I attended the pilgrim Mass, prayed for all your intentions, was reunited with old friends, and ate great food – all in a beautiful city. It isn’t always about the feelings, but often about the knowing. And I know that things happen for a reason, and in their own time.
Train ticket to Madrid: 52€
Yeah!!!! You made it. Your pictures make me want to go back.