Oh dear…and suddenly I’m back home and this whole trip is a bit unreal. But first, let me start at the beginning.
The days before we arrived in Santiago passed with mixed feelings. My mom and I were exhausted, and our bodies were slowly giving up. For my mom it was those awful hills. Going up was hard because of her COPD and going down was a killer for her knee. For me it was just my foot that hurt. But since it was hurting during our hike but also when we weren’t t hiking, I didn’t care and so the last couple of days I was hiking on a lot of paracetamol.
Oh right, those mixed feelings….
Well, we were glad Santiago was getting closer every day but that also meant that our holiday was coming to an end. Those last couple of days were all in expectation of our arrival in Santiago so let me continue with that.
April 25: Santiago de Compostela
We left our hotel in O Milladoiro at a reasonable time in the morning. According to Google Maps it was only 6 km from the hotel to the Cathedral in Santiago. Okay, let me make one thing clear here. I think that Google Maps has been designed by the Spanish because both of them have been wrong a lot of times.
If you ask a Spanish person the distance to e.g. a café-bar, they will answer “only 50 more meters”. Those 50 meters turned out to be 350 meters.
If you ask a Spanish person how many hills left until Santiago, they will answer “just one little hill. After that, only flat road”. That little hill turned out to be 450 meters, many more hills to follow and last but not least, Santiago is located on a hill as well.
If you check on Google Maps how many kilometers left from the hotel to the cathedral, it will say 6. Well, you can add 1.9km extra.
Anyway, we left the hotel in good spirits and then we ran into our 1st obstacle. A steep road going up. Mom asked me if we could take a shortcut, so I answered: “No of course not mom. We’ve got to find the yellow Camino arrow and it must be on top of that hill”. We climbed up the hill, found the famous yellow arrow which guided us downhill via a different path. When the path crossed the uphill path that we had taken, my mom looked at me very angrily. Ah well, Santiago here we come! 😊
Time for obstacle 2. By now we already walked 1,5 km and then we saw the official Camino milestone which said “7.664”. WTF? Why? Google Maps said only 6km so why did that pole say 7.664? Ah well, Santiago here we come! 😊
After leaving O Milliadoiro we ran into obstacle no.3… We forgot the stamp in the hotel, which meant that we didn’t have the mandatory 3 stamps a day. Maybe our hotel reservation and photos would count too? We hoped so because we were definitely not hiking back. Meanwhile we could already see Santiago in the distance. How exciting!
Around 11am we reached the suburbs of Santiago. That looked a bit uninspiring and disappointing, so we hurried along. Around 11.30am we became a bit agitated, we still had to hike up the damned hill, but it seemed like we were able to make the 12 o’clock pilgrims-mass. Mom and I gave it our all and at 11.45am we reached the citadel with all those nice little shops. Oh right, time to put on our blinders and focus! We’ve got a mass to attend. At 11.55am we were standing in front of the cathedral (which is under restoration) and we had to look for the entrance. Ha! There it was, on the side. Oh no, backpacks were not allowed so we looked around if there was a place to leave them. A beggar woman told us that she could watch our backpacks for a Euro. Hm, should we take that risk? Whatever, let’s just do it. We had to go to that mass (and all my valuables were in my bedazzled fanny-pack anyway). Finally, we ran into the church…We made it!
The church was packed so we had to stand. Uhm, I don’t think so! We were too tired to stand that long and so we left. Luckily the beggar-woman was still watching our backpacks so we gave her €2. She said something in Spanish, but I didn’t understand. I guess she said something like she was happy that she could help us out and no, she didn’t need extra Euros. I have to say that if she would have smiled and didn’t raise her arms it would sound a lot nicer 🤔
Because we arrived in such a hurry, we didn’t have time to look around. It turned out that our hotel was directly opposite the cathedral. Good! We checked in, went to our room, took off our shoes and rested a bit. When we regained our strength, we put on our lovely Jesus sandals and went outside. It was time to go to the pilgrims office to get our certificate.
Wow…that’s a bit disappointing. You have to stand in line between a lot of other pilgrims until it’s your turn and you have to check to what desk you have to go. No brass band, no banners, no church choir, no nothing. Just standing in line until I was summoned to desk no. 7. The guy behind the counter was really nice though, very interested in my story and in my pilgrim-passport. He made me feel special and not just like one of the many. He asked me if I also wanted the kilometers certificate (duh!) and wrote both certificates in Latin. When he gave them to me I became quite emotional (well they are nice certificates!) and then I went over to desk 2 where my mom was. I waited until she was finished too so we could leave the office. Oh wait! First, we had to pay. €3 for the km certificate and €2 for the carton transport tube.
Then it was time to take the mandatory photo on the cathedral square (which is under renovation so it doesn’t look very nice).
Now it was time to go to “De huiskamer van de Lage Landen” (a room especially for Dutch speaking pilgrims to exchange their experiences – “The lounge of the lowlands”). The volunteers who “worked” there were so sweet, and they had Dutch coffee and Dutch cookies!!!! That “Huiskamer”-project made up for our cold experience at the certificate office. The volunteers gave us the tip to go to the 7.30pm mass because that one is a lot less busy, so we might be able to sit down. That’s a good plan but first… On a terrace, in the sun, with a glass of cool white wine (mom had red wine) we had a good look at our certificates and we high fived each other.
After that everything went really fast. The mass was in Spanish, but we heard “Holanda” so that must have been our part. After the mass mom and I went for dinner and then it was time for bed. The next day was our sightseeing and buying a million-gazillion souvenirs day and we closed the day with our first paella of the holiday.
The next morning our alarm went off at 4.30am, at 5.15am our blind kamikaze taxi driver was there and at 6.40am our plane took off via Madrid to Amsterdam.
And now I’m here. I’ve got a lot of stories to tell and it looks like I haven’t been away at all. My house is still a mess, Elmo the Chihuahua is still not housetrained (he pees when he’s happy, and boy was he happy when I came back) and the fridge was empty.
When I started this blog, it was all about the preparation for the Camino and now that that’s finished I’m not so sure if I continue. Of course, I still have a lot to write about, there is still this gastric bypass thingy and I’m starting this therapy for my ADHD, are we or are we not moving…. You know, stuff like that. But are people waiting for my stories? Or what’s more important: do I enjoy writing? The answer is Yes. But for now, I wrote enough.
Until next week 😊