Walked today: 5.9 miles
Walked Camino 2019: 414 miles
WE MADE IT!!!
Our walk today was about as easy as any we’ve had so far. It was mostly on pavement, only moderate inclines and they were short in duration. The fog didn’t make much difference as we were mostly in commercial or industrial areas or city streets.
We played hopscotch with a tour group of 15 pilgrims from Belgium who started their Camino in Sarria.
We also chatted briefly with three ladies from Wales who also had started in Sarria.
We got to San Marcos, where we have a reservation for the night, made weeks ago when we thought room availability would be an issue. But we continued walking on into Santiago, through city streets for nearly 3 miles until we finally saw the tower of the Catedral de Santiago. A few minutes later, we finally, after 3 Caminos, got to see the Catedral without scaffolding blocking the front entrance of perhaps the most beautiful structure in Christiandom.
We took a few photos and walked on to the pilgrims office arriving at 11:00 to present our credentials to receive our Compostela. We were issued a ticket designating our place in line, #881 and #882. At that time they said they were serving pilgrim #331 and were processing pilgrims at an estimated rate of 100/hour!
The pilgrim office recently implemented the ticket system to avoid the long waiting in line (2 hours +) which we’ve experienced in the past. The new system lets you scan your ticket with your phone and see what was the last number served, so you can be at the pilgrim office when your number is called . So the long lines have been eliminated at the pilgrim office, but based on our experience today, the wait times have been significantly increased.
Hopefully the Santiago pilgrim office people will do some more work to improve the system. Pilgrim numbers continue to increase each year (Elena, the owner of our place last night in San Paio, said this year over 350,000 pigrims will receive Compostelas) and with 2021 being a “Holy Year”, the pilgrim traffic could easily double, possibly triple current numbers.
We found a small bar and had a prolonged coffee/hot chocolate break, walked to the Decathlon store to look around, had a long lunch, then returned to the pilgrim office “waiting area”
and waited until our numbers were called finally at 4:15… after a 5+ hour wait (but not in line😜).
So at 4:15 p.m. today, we officially concluded Camino 2019.
As we mentioned earlier, because earlier flights were not available when we tried to adjust a few weeks ago, we”ll now spend the next 4 days (5 night) in Santiago, board a train for Madrid on the 30th, spend two nights in Madrid and then fly home on Oct 2. Hangin’ out in Santiago and Madrid hotels for a week is something we would normally not do on purpose, but we”ll probably make the most of it and use it as a transition from our very simplistic existence for the past 59 days back to the everyday life we left behind for a while.
We’ll also use the transition time to reflect on Camino 2019 and will share our thoughts and takeaways with you from our temporary base in Spain.