We left the Pilgrim’s Office at 7:13 pm on Thursday, October 5, Compostelas in hand and walked back to A Casa do Peregrino and somewhat sadly, began our transition from Pilgrim to Tourist.
It began with a pasta dinner in an Italian, not Spanish, restaurant a few steps from our hotel. The relief and satisfaction of what we had just accomplished was not overwhelming, but for spontaneous, subdued bursts to each other during the meal of “we just walked 500 miles”!
A very full day under our belt, we retired to our room and collapsed, but found it difficult to sleep with so many thoughts and feelings and emotions resonating in our brains. It’s also possible that the festive atmosphere and singing and laughing and talking of pilgrims and other revellers outside our second floor balcony doors until 4:00.m. may also have been distracting.
Friday morning, as non-pilgrims, we slept in, but by habit, still had our pilgrimly breakfast of cafe con leche and tostadas in the bar across the street.
The rest of the day was spent walking around old Santiago, hanging out on our balcony watching the coming and going of pilgrims, as the Camino to the Catedral and Pilgrim’s office ran right below us.
Historical evidence suggests that Santiago de Compostela was once a Roman city, followed by Visigothic rule. The kings of Galicia and León were crowned here at the cathedral and Santiago became the capital of the kingdom of Galicia. The town was fortified in the 11th century after suffering attacks from the Muslims of Al Andalus. Santiago’s rich architectural heritage demonstrates its role as the most important city in Galicia through the ages. Santiago’s Old City was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
“Compostella, the most excellent city of the Apostle, complete with all delights, having in its care the valuable body of St. James, on account of which it is recognized as the luckiest and noblest city in all Spain.”- Codex Calixtinus
We returned for a visit to the Catedral and walked among the crowds, observing the incredibly large number of monuments, churches and buildings spanning nearly 1000 years of history, all concentrated in the relatively small Old Santiago City.
Transitioning from Pilgrim to Tourist meant passing through an endless supply of souvenir shops, which we did and actually made a few minor purchases to legitimize ourselves.
A nice Galician lunch and a return for dinner at Cervantes, a nice restaurant/bar, a few steps away completed our culinary experience for the day.
Saturday morning was spent gathering our gear and preparing for our trip home. We worked on the blog and spent more time on the balcony and checked out of our room at noon.
Watching the pilgrims walk past our balcony on the last few steps of their journey was surprisingly, an emotional experience in itself. The quickened pace, the forward walking stance, the anticipation of so many souls, no matter their motivation or mode of travel to get here, is too positive to dismiss.
If one considers the possibility that there is an aura of positive energy emulating from each of the 1000 or so pilgrims from all over the world that enter this small area every day, then it’s no wonder that we feel it and that others feel it.
And it’s also possible that we take it back to our respective homes and perhaps share it with others and ultimately change lives including our own.