OK, I have spent my last night in an albergue. I don’t intend to ever stay in one again if I can possibly avoid it. Until about 7pm we had a really nice group of people. There was Mr and Mrs France who are really very sweet, the 4 French people we have been shadowing for the last few days, Señor Draughtsman and Ann the German woman I haven’t mentioned before. There were a couple of others who we hadn’t seen before but they kept to themselves. And of course Pilar the hospitalier for the albergue who was very amusing. We had all been sitting together talking amongst ourselves and then ‘the others’ arrived, Noisy, cocky, swaggering, macho buggars they were. “Hello, we’re here. Notice us!” The whole atmosphere completley changed. Within the space of 10 minutes, most of ‘our group’ went to bed to get away from them. Thankfully the seemed to have ended up in the other dormitory. I say thankfully as they were all drinking beer so probably would snore and fart through the night. But never mind, as It turns out hey were not needed to create the evening chorus. I had Val on my right, Mr Strange Man above me and one of the French who excelled herself two nights before when we last shared a room, all going at it in various different rhythms. One would snort in, while the other exhaled and then they reciprocated. Mr Stange One provided the constant bass rhythm. If there is anything about the science of snoring you would like to know, I can tell you all about it. NO more albergues for me.
Astoundingly I didn’t hear the French get up at 5.45 (Val told me I was snoring – MOI??) but woke 5 minutes later and began my last pack of the Camino. With my purple growth on my back we headed off in the cool, misty morning. Unfortunately it was nothing like yesterday morning. The walk ended up being a get from A to B walk with few roses to smell. It was about the destination and not the journey. Yet, today was the day where if we had ever felt homesick, we would have felt right at home in one part.
The other thing we found ourselves doing was racing anyone in front of us. Val blamed me for picking up the pace but I always thought it was her. She thinks I’m competitive! There was one fellow (who may have been Mr Strange Man but could have been Mr Walk around in your Undies Man) who we both decided we didn’t want to walk into Santiago in his near company. Up went the cadence and off we went. It’s quite fun being able to do that and men don’t expect it from two women especially an older one (but they don’t know about Val’s hat do they!)
After one last hill climb we came over the brow of the hill and THERE IT WAS. The Santiago Cathedral was there in the distance only 2 kilometres away (covered in scaffolding of course as everything always is in Europe). It was at that point I felt a little buzz. Finally I could see what I had been walking towards for the last 180km. A bit of a neat feeling to know that I had done and actually in hindsight with relative ease despite (the memory is great at taking off the rough edges).
Once we got into the old town I was actually quite overawed. Val led me to the Cathedral where we joined a seemingly never ending stream of arriving pilgrims. There were a number who were clearly suffering from different orthopaedic problems and some looked just down right knackered. Others elated. We were going to going to go to the Pilgrim’s mass at midday but we couldn’t get a seat. So we waited until we could meet Luis to get into our apartment.
What an apartment. We are up in the loft on the fifth floor. You would think that after all those kilometres walking up 85 stairs would be easy. Nah, not at all. All worth it for the view I can assure you.
So the walk is over. Really quite a special way to celebrate turning 50 today. Over the next couple of days, apart from taking photos of this stunning little town, I will hopefully reflect on my baby Camino to see what it all means. Everyone does a Camino for different reasons. I think it is about what you learn in the way and not the destination. But what a destination.
And just to top off the day, Val presented me with the birthday cake she bought for me yesterday and had been carrying since then. It’s been a great day indeed.