Saturday, 22 September 2012
Camino Primitivo/Frances: Lugo to Santiago - the end
I was soon getting tired of all those hikers and the constant greeting "Buen Camino". The locals did not seem to mind though and still greeted the pilgrims friendly. But local economy profits a lot from the pilgrims. Every other house seems to be a private pilgrims' hostel and despite this being very late in the season in the evening I did see a lot of "Complete" (Hostel full) signs. Little food stalls were everywhere along the trail where you could buy coffee or pieces of fruit. Drink vending machines were also frequently along the trail being a rather odd sight in otherwise very rural Galicia.
And so finally, on Wednesday, September 19th I walked into Santiago de Compostela, the terminus of my hike. I did not feel elated or very happy like you usually feel when you finish such a long hike. On the contrary: I was so dead tired that I did not even go to the cathedral but just went to my hostel and collapsed in my bed. The cathedral and all the other pilgrim's rituals had to wait till next day. At least I was very lucky with my hostel. Because I knew I would arrive rather late in the day I had made an online reservation for the Seminario Menor, a former boys' boarding school. It is a huge building complex that now houses hundreds of pilgrims in big dormitories ("snoritories") of 50 beds per room! But just paying 5 EUR more gets you a private room which is a very small and spartan "cell" but quiet and clean. I enjoyed the pilgrim feeling at the end and liked watching my fellow pilgrims in the evening.
Next I wanted to get my "credencial" but when I got to the "pilgrims' office" the waiting line was so long that I gave up on it. Hundreds of pilgrims were waiting for an hour and longer to get that document and the queue was well out onto the street. I resigned myself to just have a picture taken of myself outside the office. The only satisfying event that day was the daily German pilgrims meeting. A German church had started this initiative and a team of a priest and two volunteers were offering a daily German mass, a pilgrims' meeting and a spiritual sightseeing tour of the cathedral. I attended the pilgrims meeting and was surprised to see only three other pilgrims there! The idea of that meeting was to share the experiences had on the trail and talk about your feelings at the end of it. A great way to end a pilgrimage!