Camino Primitivo Day 14-Santa Irene-Santiago de Compostela
This was it. Our last day of walking and the one when we’d finally reach Santiago de Compostela. We left the albergue around 6:30 am and headed back to the Camino via a back road that connects to it without having to walk that extra .5 km back to the main road. We soon came upon the municipality of A Rúa.
Before the arrival of the Romans under Emperor Augustus in 25 B.C, this area was occupied by the Celtiberian Cigurri tribe (also known as the Egurri). The Cigurri were part of the Cismontani branch of the Asturian people. They spoke the Celtic Gallaecian language. Muslims ruled the region briefly until king Alfonso I of Asturias (739–757) retook the region in the Reconquista. The region was depopulated after its capture by Alfonso I as part of the Desert of the Duero, a buffer zone he created between Asturias and the Muslim states. In more recent history, during the Peninsular War of 1807–14, Spanish guerrillas and Napoleon’s Grande Armée clashed in the region.
To keep me going through the last day I made Steven and billy tell me old Boyscout stories and sing me songs. This is their attempt at the F Troop song. LOL! The first 10 km of today’s walk was actually pleasant. We walked through very pretty forested areas with Eucalyptus trees everywhere.
In the picture below we are just 5 km from Monte de Gozo. I was walking pretty slowly since at this point I was in excruciating pain. I was determined to walk into the Cathedral square so we just took it slow and easy. I could barely walk at this point. Billy and Steven were so patient. We stopped to rest for a while at a cafe that was closed but at least it had chairs for me to rest and change my socks.
I have never experienced foot pain as bad as I did this day. The burning ache from the plantar fasciitis coupled with the shooting pain from the Achilles tendonitis made every step I took torture. No amount of pain killer that I took made a difference at this point. My only distraction was taking pictures and knowing that soon we’d reach our destination. I had no more long distance walking ahead of me after today.
Continuing on for anther 5 km we arrived at Monte de Gozo (Hill of Joy). This hill was named as such because upon reaching it, pilgrims would be able to see the spires of the Cathedral of Santiago and know that they were less than 5 kilometers away. A large monument was erected on the hill to honor Pope John Paul’s visit in 1986. It depicts both the Pope’s face, as well as St. Francis of Assisi, who made the pilgrimage in the 13th Century.
A short walk up a hill are the bronze statues of 2 pilgrims pointing toward the Cathedral. You can just see it in distance. It’s said that upon reaching this hill, the pilgrims of centuries past would shout in joy as they saw their destination in the distance.
About 20 minutes past these statues we came across an enclosed area that houses what I think is last of the ancient pilgrim markers. If you have any information about it please add it in the comments sections. I can’t find anything about it or what this structure behind it was. Right after this we walked down a stone staircase and across a bridge. We are now in the city of Santiago de Compostela and less than hour from the Cathedral.
The walk through the streets of modern Santiago was just unbearable. Where the heck was this Cathedral? Steven kept telling me that we were almost there. Just up that HILL. No! I can’t make it. We stopped at a bar so that we could use the bathroom and I took the opportunity to have a double shot of espresso. Just what I needed. It kicked in fast since I had not eaten in hours. I shot out of that bar and started walking so fast I left the boys in the dust. I finally stopped when I realized that I was unsure which direction to go in. They caught up and we proceeded onward.
I was so happy to see the old sign on the wall that indicated we were entering the old city of Santiago de Compostela. Now we were just minutes from our goal.
We arrived at the plaza Inmaculada where the University of Santiago is located. This is also the location of the apartment that we rented for the next 3 nights. In the picture below Steven in standing right in front of the door tot he apartment. The gate into the plaza is just step from this location. So I started the video on my phone so we I could capture the moment for all of you as we entered the Plaza Obradoiro where the Cathedral of Santiago is located. We’d arrived!
I laid down on the ground and couldn’t get up. Oh the joy of finally arriving!
We spent some time enjoying the square and then headed off to get Steven his Compostela. He was flying out in the early morning and had to get it today. The wait was 2 hours! So we left him in line and went to check in with Ines at our Apartment. I’d made reservations over 6 months ago at an apartment that overlooked the cathedral. The location was perfect as was the price. The view out of the windows from Apartamentos Casa de La Inmaculada are unbeatable. It overlooks the side of the Cathedral, the University of Santiago, and the gate that leads into the Cathedral’s square.
Steven was able to get his Compostela and after we’d rested a while, we took a short walk around the corner and had our final dinner together. Tomorrow morning he was headed out to St. Jean Pied de Port where he would start the Camino Frances. He had done all the other sections of the Frances in the past and this time he was going to Burgos to complete the last leg. It was too short of a visit with him but a great end to our pilgrimage.
Tomorrow Billy and I would go to the pilgrim office to get our Compostelas and attend the noon mass at the Cathedral. I have been looking forward to seeing the Botafumeiro fly for a long time now. Little did we know what tomorrow would bring and who we would meet at lunch. We had plans to meet JohnnieWalker Santiago (A Camino de Santiago legend) for lunch and we had no idea what he had in store for us. You will find out in the next post 🙂