A circuitous route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Stage One beginning in Munich, Germany ending in Jerusalem - traveling through Austria, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Second stage from Vienna, through Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain.
Final destination - Santiago!

Post Script: The changeable situation in Jerusalem has led to a change in plans. The Rome to Jerusalem leg of this journey has been changed to the 'End to End' in the UK, after which the journey will resume as above in Vienna.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Made it! Santiago de Compostela

In 2005, after completing my first Camino I stood in the vast square called Praza do Obradoiro at sunrise and said, softly, words to the affect of: "Goodbye Santiago. This has been an extraordinary journey and adventure, and this is the last time I'll stand here".  How wrong I was!

Today I stood in that square again, for a fifth visit, and stared at that mighty Cathedral, this time swathed in scaffolding.  On my last visit it was winter time.  The square was almost empty each time I passed through it, with only the brave rushing across, dressed in thick jackets and armed with umbrellas. The arrival of each pilgrim was conspicuous, primarily because we were so few.  Today is a different story altogether.  The square, by comparison, has been teeming with people, tourists and pilgrims, and the pilgrims have become just part of the crowd there are so many of them.  That said, I arrived early in the morning and for a brief time it was only we pilgrims out and about, but that didn't take long to change.  

I went straight to the pilgrim office to collect my Compostela.  The queue was very short, maybe just over half a dozen pilgrims.  Again this was very different to last time, and unrecognizable to the first time in 2005. When I visited the pilgrim office in 2005 it was upstairs in a building, and apparently, when queues did form during the busy times they queued up the stairs.  When I went  there in January 2014 we were so few that there was no waiting going straight to the desk, out of the cold, and having a leisurely chat to the person issuing the Compostela. 

Today I could have been mistaken for thinking I was at the Correos (post office).  We queued up outside in an orderly fashion and each time a person had been attended to a bell rang, a sign flashed telling which person to go to, and the line moved forward.  I was glad that attention had been paid to the sound quality of the bell, rather than the dreadful sound that rings at the Correos.  Things were very different a few hours later though when I went past the pilgrim office with the queue stretching out along the street.  In peak times, and peak season, this gets even longer.
Not only did I get the Compostela, but also asked for a certificate of distance.  When they asked me how far I had come they didn't believe me, but I assured them that I had come a round about way, been on the road for eleven and half months, and that my best estimate was about 5,500kms.  They duly wrote that down on the certificate!
The queue when I arrived.........
.......... and a few hours later.
I went to the pilgrim Mass at midday where the botefumeiro was swung.  I also saw it swung at the 7.30 Mass later in the day.
Some facts:- it swings in a 65 metre arc, reaches heights of 25 meters, the ropes last about 20 years, it swings from a pulley system mounted in the roof, is about 1.6 meters tall and weighs around 80 kgs.
Pilgrims and tourists revelling in the sunshine - except for me - I stayed in the shade!
My first view of the Cathedral was the back of it, bathed in morning sunshine.  A different story to the front (below) where scaffolding hides it.

The road from Sobrado dos Monxes was long and tedious, bitumen road, hard on the feet, and the sun beating down.  On the way I passed this farm implement, obviously left at the side of the field to be used again.  In so many respects it seems time has stood still in this neck of the woods.
There were some good views though, on what was a tedious day.

My last full day of walking finished at Monte do Goza.  This is where, in medieval times, pilgrims would sing for joy at the sight of the Cathedral in the distance - their destination.  At Monte do Goza there are a couple of monuments, one of which I have never been able to find until this visit.  It is a lovely statue of two pilgrims looking at the cathedral in the distance.  They would have seen it much more clearly - on this afternoon I could only just make out the cathedral through the haze and smog.
This monument was to mark the visit of the Pope in 1993 - the reason the huge complex at Monte do Goza was built - to house the hoards visiting at that time.

This is the statue that has taken me five visits to find!  It was equally hazy in the morning when I left and so I got no better photos of the view they are looking at.

Reaching the Camino Frances the crowds swelled!  I was one of the last to leave and so I was only passed by those who had come from places further away.  Even so, after regular and leisurely stops for coffee and food there were still plenty of pilgrims!
But just occasionally I was in a pilgrim free zone, with the only sounds being the birds singing and my footsteps.

 I am in Santiago for 11 more nights.  Over the next couple of days, among other things, time will be devoted to chores such as washing clothes and cleaning my gear.  I am also going shopping - for clothes!  I am so looking forward to wearing some different clothes!  In amongst all of this I am going to rest as I feel quite tired.  I am staying in Santiago for so long for a reason, but sleep calls, and so I will tell you more of that in the next post.


  1. Dear Janet,

    We were just talking about you today and... we are so happy for you, so proud of you, too! We wish you a wonderful time in Santiago.

    I want to thank you again for the parcel you sent us with beautiful presents from Saint Quentin (I really love the art deco bookmark and I keep it in my agenda).

    This summer, I'll be back on the Camino, walking for peace. here is my new website (in English, especially for you!) : http://www.freehugsforpeace.org

    Kind regards and lots and lots of hugs. Once again, CONGRATULATIONS and thank you for sharing a beautiful evening in our home in Belgium.


    1. Thank you for your support Sylvie. My time spent with you and your family is one of the special memories of this journey. It has been strange stopping and doing ordinary things like shopping for clothes. I have been surprised at how many people I have bumped into here in Santiago as it has only been a few days where I have walked with people. This has been a wonderful journey and meeting people like you along the way has made it special. I will check out you website at leisure. I know you too will have a wonderful time on the Camino - will be thinking of you. Buen Camino, Janet

  2. Janet, so good to read of your arrival! Congratulations on a mammoth feat. Enjoy being in Santiago, and I hope the sun shines most days!

    1. Thanks Margaret. The sun has shone most days In Galicia - lucky me! When I read your comment I didn't have my glasses on and read feat as feet - and thought "oh she's being clever implying the work of my feet"! They have served me well - only blisters, strangely, on the tip of my toes on the last day. Looking forward to catching up, with luck, in person, one day. Wondering what expedition you have niggling in the back of your mind too. Thanks for your very many comments over the past year. By the way, am meeting Magwood for coffee this afternoon.

    2. Yep, maybe mid-year next year I will get over your way for a trip. Can't possibly come in summer when you might have a heatwave! Could come for some time in Adelaide then switch over to Victoria to go visit all the younger generation of cousins... Or it might be the other way round if their holidays are different to ours like last time I went over.

  3. Good stuff. Have a breather.

  4. Believe me - I will!. I felt amazingly tired when I got here. I hadn't until then and I suppose it must be the body saying "you can stop now". I'm just mooching around SdC and have seen much I haven't seen before, and really enjoying it. Have had sunshine almost every day in " wet Galicia", so am not complaining - especially when I listen to the weather reports back home.

  5. Janet, not sure yet what you are doing in your time in Santiago, but friends of mine are now just 2-3 days away from finishing their Camino. If you meet a Kiwi couple, Peter and Betty-Ann, -give them an extra congratulations from me!

  6. Congratulations on your mammoth achievement, Janet. You must be very proud :) I have thoroughly enjoyed following your journey through your pics and write ups and at times, have been very thankful that it is not me out there in the cold, icy wind and rain, trudging up hill and down dale. Hope you are enjoying a well deserved rest before you head back down under. XX

    1. Thank you Carol. None of it was too arduous weather wise, though some of the hills were at times, but the views were worth the effort! Just think of the speech material I have. See you soon, Janet

  7. Well well well, guess who I spied in my Twitter feed! https://twitter.com/camino_xacobeo/status/607133658332459008

    1. You'll have to fill me in later! I don't get twitter (because I don't own a phone - much to everyone's disgust!). Looking forward to a chat after I unpack!

  8. It was my good fortune to meet you at my favorite coffee place in Santiago -- Casino Cafe. I did not realize tha you were just coming off a 11-month pilgrimage. And you don't call yourself an adventurer! Ha!
    Thanks for emailing me the link to this blog. I will follow you (and you could follow me back at https://spiritualwalkingguides.wordpress.com). I look forward to reading your first book.
    Blessings to you, Stacey Wittig

    1. It was good fortune we met Stacey. I enjoyed catching up with you. Who knows what comes next - for both of us! I look forward to checking out your site on my return, and also your upcoming guide. God bless, Janet