I had trouble falling asleep last night, thinking about Santiago (and later dreaming about it, when I finally did doze off). Then I woke up at 6:30am this morning, very excited to get walking. We had 25 kilometers to walk today.

It wasn’t easy walking, either, and the weather was damp and sticky. The trails, surprisingly, were quiet, but the last 15 kilometers took the most irritating route imaginable, through and around Santiago’s suburbs. At one point, it made a gigantic detour around the airport. We found it very annoying, but the pilgrims who only started three days ago in Sarria probably wouldn’t have minded so much.

Fortunately, the crucial last steps were excellent. As we approached the side of the cathedral, we heard the skirl of Galician bagpipes, which I would have mistaken for normal (Highland) bagpipes except for the occasional note out of normal range. They were being played by a busker, and his joyous tune was the perfect accompaniment. It made me think of the UK, and of Halifax. And with the seagulls flying overhead, I was very aware of our proximity to the coast. It felt like I’d walked home, and it was an emotional moment when we rounded the final corner and came face-to-face with the cathedral’s fa├žade.

We sat on the pavement in front of the cathedral for many minutes, taking it all in. The cathedral isn’t really my cup of tea, architecturally, but that wasn’t the point. It was wonderful to watch new pilgrims coming around the corner every few minutes, all rejoicing and celebrating their accomplishments. We only gave the interior a cursory glance, planning to return for a detailed tour the next morning.

We had walked 1,600 kilometers over almost ten weeks from the day we left the Le-Puy Cathedral.

Below: At breakfast in Salceda. I realized today that I was sick of pilgrim food – baguettes, chorizo, etc. It’s a bad sign when you crave British food, but I definitely fancied some sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, and a curry!

Below: More Galician forest.

Below: The outskirts of Santiago! The damned kilometer markers that started early in Galicia disappeared towards the end, depriving us of the satisfaction of watching those final kilometers go past.

Below: This sign was rather conveniently placed for pilgrim photographs.

Below: Walking into the city. We couldn’t see any sign of the cathedral until about the last five minutes.

Below: The “Camino” gate into the old center of Santiago.

Below: We made it!

Below: The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Below: In front of the cathedral in Santiago.

Below: Walking sticks abandoned by pilgrims at the “pilgrim office,” where one receives a “compostela” (certificate of completion of the pilgrimage).

I will post a few more photos from our time in Santiago tomorrow.

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