The last day of my Camino…
I was out of the albergue around 7.30am for the final stretch of Camino Frances. This last albergue in Pedrouzo was far too noisy and with too much early morning lights going on and off for a sleep in.
My last Camino breakfast was a delectable mix of tea, orange juice, sardines in olive oil and a banana. Through my own supplies. Inside the albergue. Hey, it worked for me.
Coffee down the road after few kilometres. There, I just felt that I had to photograph the key, if you like, to all this whilst there. The pursuit of sellos or stamps.
Nothing spectacular. Most of the time it looks like this in a corner of bar/cafe. Help yourself. Stamp and fill in the fecha / date yourself.
Closer to Santiago de Compostela, the signs look a bit different. A bit more old fashioned, down to earth like they have been around for a while. Funny that.
Getting closer all the time… Passing marker after marker…
Most of today’s stretch was not the prettiest. The Camino first went through dense forest where you could see little.
The early stretch here was quite beautiful.
And here too. In the mid morning light.
Suddenly a marker indicating that we have reached Santiago de Compostela appeared. We are at the town limit.
This concrete shell was one of many in a tunnel underneath a road bridge. Leading towards Santiago de Compostela.
And this graffiti had a somewhat adverse view on tourist peregrinos aka Turigrinos. You may not see it but it says in there “Turigrinos no gracias”. No, thank you.
When we are onto the topic of Turigrinos, the guy to the left has to be the worst example yet. Apart from the visible clues between him and the lady, he felt the need to light up a cigarette as he was walking. Not worrying about who may be behind him. Which was me. And as you do.
You may recall yesterday’s post on Turigrinos getting off a van on a hill. Only to then immediately disappear into a cafe.
Here they are again. They spoke German.
A stop in a second cafe today for a cuppa revealed some odd custom of placing copper coins against the inside wall. As you do. So I did. Added a few more copper coin to their collection.
The road into the centre of Santiago de Compostela was long and went through lots of outlying areas and suburbs. Then suddenly, the cathedral was visible between the buildings…
Another building along the way had clearly misspelt our family name…
We continued into the centre of Santiago de Compostela and then it appeared. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.
I had to get that almost mandatory photo taken of me in front of the cathedral. With the hiking poles up in the air. And with the almost mandatory scaffolding around the cathedral. So common in many of the Mediterranean countries.
As you walk through the entrance, you enter a different and much more tranquil world. At least it was when I was there.
You cross a small courtyard, enter on the other side and you are inside the Pilgrims Office. Where it was almost empty. I had a choice of being immediately served by any one of four different people.
Now, what happens at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago de Compostela?
First, you have to get your Credentials verified. You need to prove that you have at least walked the last 100km to Santiago de Compostela.
You prove that by having at least 2 stamps in your Credential for each of those days that you have been on the Camino.
No problems there. These are my 2 Credentials at the end of my Camino. Plenty of stamps. One booklet completely full with stamps as well as another third of that in my second booklet.
You have to fill in a form with your details including why you are walking the Camino. For a “religious” or “other” reason.
“Other” includes “Spiritual” which can be whatever you want it to be. A “religious” reason entitles you to a Compostela certificate. That’s what I chose. “Other” entitles you to a different certificate.
The Compostela is written in Latin. So you get your first name translated into Latin. Hans hence becomes ”Ioannem” which I assume is Latin for Johannes. I understand that Hans derives from the German Johannes (my dad liked Germany).
The Compostela certificate is free, no cost to the pilgrim.
You may choose to spend 3€ to receive a second certificate. This other certificate shows your starting date and place, distance and your chosen Camino. Now the writing is in Spanish and your name appears on it as you know it.
Of course, the completion of a 775km long walk requires celebration. There was a bar almost opposite the entrance to the Pilgrims Office. Perfect! Minimal walking this time.
At 2pm or so, it was time to check in at my hostel for the next 3 nights. With the clever name of “The Last Stamp”.
No, no bothering in getting that mythical last stamp at “The Last Stamp” despite the pun. No need for it. Hey, I had my Compostela now.
My pilgrim team then decided to reconvene for further and in depth celebrations from 5pm.
I took the opportunity to walk to the bus station and get an ALSA bus ticket to Oporto for Sunday. Online, I had not been successful in buying that ticket. Requirements of Spanish credit card etc.
Over the counter there were no problems. I had my bus ticket in my hand almost immediately and with no fuss.
Back to the plaza in front of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral by 5pm.
Aaron had brought with him a tiny little bottle of spirit, some 70% alcohol spirit with a name I have forgot. He emptied it in front of the cathedral in a bit of a ceremony.
Wine and food followed. I had the best food that I’ve had on the whole Camino. Two portions of raciones, one with octopus and one with prawns. Too hungry and too tasty to take a photo, but here we are drinking and waiting for that food.
We left the establishment around 10pm, happy and full of food and wine. As we got back to the main street, filming was in progress.
A quick night shot from the side of the cathedral on the way back to “The Last Stamp”. It was definitely bed for me.
785km walked. 0km left to walk after Day 38
Done. Dusted. I walked Camino Frances end to end. 775km of walking completed.
I walked the Camino the only and “right way” which to me is:
- Carrying my backpack the whole way.
- No bus.
- No taxi.
- No support of any kind.
The official distance between St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain is 775km. This is according to the Pilgrim Office.
The distance listed in my John Brierley guidebook 2014 edition was 785km. Since that was the book I had as I started walking and blogging the Camino, that is what I used for distances in this blog.
By the way, I would not recommend that guidebook. Detailed maps are missing when you need them. Also, there is too much “fluff”, redundant information and photos.