Taberna Vela* – Santiago
21.11 | 500.23 miles
+2,318 | -2,778 feet
The taxi dropped me off at 7:50 where I ended my second walk yesterday, and I began the walk to Santiago. Overall, it was a very pretty walk. It was not at all crowded, even after the 10-kilometer marker.
As I neared Santiago after lunchtime, there were very few pilgrims.
Once in the outskirts of Santiago, I was surprised at the lack of signage. Mostly, it was a shell emblem in the sidewalk every 20 to 30 yards.
My phone stopped working about 11:30, so I had no GPS to verify the route. Usually, I would see at least one tired person with a backpack in front of me, so that’s the way I went.
It was exciting when I reached the old city because I knew I was close. Maybe it was just me, but the overall atmosphere is felt celebratory. I arrived at the cathedral just before 3:00 PM.
You don’t actually enter the cathedral from the square. Instead, I walked to the Pilgrim office a few blocks away to get my compostela. It was oddly bureaucratic after the simplicity of pilgrimage.
The gentleman who processed me was very kind and welcoming. He asked if it was my first Camino, and I said, “Yes.” Then he smiled, and said, “But not your last?”
And I replied, “No, not my last.”
After a shower and some rest, I headed back to the cathedral. I viewed the sarcophagus with Saint James’ bones and embraced the apostle. I didn’t know about the apostle’s embrace. There are stairs and a passageway behind the altar. You come up behind the large statue of Saint James and hug him from the back. There was a sign explaining that we were to hug but not kiss the apostle.
If you are in the cathedral at Santiago, you’ll probably see arms around Saint James as you look at the main altar. When I reentered to see the main cathedral, they had stopped the apostles embrace because it was an hour until mass, so I didn’t see any arms.
After the cathedral I went out to the square to a hotel with a terrace overlooking the cathedral. There were no tables available, so in the Camino way, I asked two ladies who had several open if I could sit down. We sat and talked, and they invited me to join them for dinner. It was a blessing not to be on my own this night in Santiago.
When I returned to the hotel about 9:00 PM, Dave was diligently working with the AT&T – even though he was two hours ahead of me. I managed to stay awake until 10:30 to do various things with my phone as he worked with them. When I woke up, service had been restored. Thank you, Dave! ❤️
Walking this route that pilgrims have been walking for over 1,000 years gives me a new understanding of the communion of saints. I’m thankful for the rest day in Santiago before continuing to Finisterre. My body will be prepared to walk again, and my mind will have time to comprehend arriving in Santiago.