Had a lovely dinner last night, although I forgot to take a picture, sorry. There were 6 of us, John and Ann from Canada, they had arrived the day before and leave for Porto today, Andy who had also arrived the day before and again left today, and then Hugh and Morag and myself who reached Santiago yesterday in the rain.
It was fun catching up in experiences over the last few days and also sharing memories of evenings or special days or people we had met. It is amazing how people have met the same people, perhaps at different places and times but often when someone says did you meet this person from here, then another story is shared.
Later on I also saw Andy and Wendy from Melton Mowbray in the same restaurant. I had met them at Stansted on the way out. It was great to see them again. They seemed to have had a great time too. They made really good progress getting to Santiago a few days before me but they had only stopped in Burgos and León. They are heading back to Stansted today.
It was lots of goodbyes after dinner, which feels odd, but inevitable. It is fair to say though that everyone has had a great experience, all in different ways but no matter what discomfort people had at points during the walk, overall everyone I have met has loved it.
This morning being Sunday I headed out to an English mass. It was a very special experience, quite emotional actually. The chapel was absolutely packed, everyone introduced themselves with name, nationality and where they started their pilgrimage from. The service was very special with thanks for a safe pilgrimage and reflections on lessons and experiences. Even the priest had just finished walking from Sarria. It felt like a very special part of the journey.
After mass I headed into the cathedral. I had known that due to renovations this year there is no mass at the cathedral but that it was still open for visiting. I must say I did not know just how much renovation was ongoing. It is very hard to see any of the cathedral as it is all under scaffolding or plastic which was a little disappointing. Still I had already told myself that I would come back another year for mass in the cathedral so I will have to see the inside then.
Later on I headed to the Pilgrim museum. This was a great museum, absolutely fascinating. It goes through the history of the pilgrimage to Santiago and the legend around Saint James as well as how the Camino has evolved and been developed. It is amazing the number of different routes available.
I start my next Camino to Finesterre and Muxia on Tuesday, another 120km to the Coast. There are bus tours available out to the Coast which is what most people who want to see the Coast seem to do. I am looking forward to completing this final stage though, for me it feels right to walk.
I thought I would share pictures of my feet, contrary to comments already received, I have not had a pedicure and I can confirm that these are my feet!!! They look remarkably similar to before I did the walk and they certainly don’t look like they have just walked 780km, nor do they look like many of the other painful feet that I have seen. I think I am very lucky to have been blessed with resilient feet and good walking trainers! May this last for my final 5 days of walking.
Yesterday was the 19.10.19 which is the date I completed my first Camino. 1195 pilgrims reached Santiago yesterday and registered. Based on 365 days (it won’t be this exactly) that is 436,175 pilgrims in a year, and last year 57,881 started from St Jean Pied de Port. It is a lot of people walking through Spain, but the journey and the experience is quite incredible.
This is my Compostela (in Latin) as well as my certificate of distance, below. The translation of the Compostela is:
The chapter of this Holy Apostolic and Metropolitan Cathedral of Compostela, custodian of the seal of the Alter of St James, to all the Faithful and pilgrims who arrive from anywhere on the Orb of the Earth with an attitude of devotion or because of a vow or promise make a pilgrimage to the Tomb of the Apostle, our Patron Saint and Protector of Spain, recognises before all who observe this document that: Katie Wade has devotedly visited this most sacred temple with Christian sentiment.In witness thereof, I present this document endorsed with the seal of this same Holy Church. Issued in Santiago de Compostela on 19.10.19.
Another sightseeing day tomorrow!