Friday, June 2, 2017

Day 29: To Santiago! The End is Near!

Oct 15: Yet again, Amanda got a solid head start on me leaving the hotel when it was still completely dark out. I think Amanda was actually a little excited about the day because today, we planned to reach the promised land known as Santiago de Compostela. The end was near!

Amanda snapped this photo shortly after leaving the hostel well before sunrise!
I waited around until a little after 9:00 when it started getting light out. I couldn’t say that I waited until sunrise because the sun never really rose—it was overcast and ugly. Morning wasn’t marked with a sunrise, just a brightening of the sky.

A half hour into the walk, the rain started. It wasn’t the barely perceptible sprinkles we had faced the last few days, but rather a steady, moderate rain that—for the first time of the trip—required the use of an umbrella. It was as if the trail wanted to test our mettle with one last challenge before reaching Santiago.

Around the same time, I caught up with a large group of people hiking together which I found mildly annoying. I like people in moderation. A herd of a dozen people all walking together was too much for me, though, and I picked up my pace to put some distance between us. There weren’t rude or obnoxious or anything—there were just too many of them.

The trail wasn’t particularly eventful. The rain continued to fall quite hard at times, then would taper off a bit before picking up again. The closer we got to Santiago, the more often we tended to follow busy roads and highways which weren’t very scenic or pleasant. I finally caught up with Amanda about five kilometers outside of Santiago.

And I caught up just in time! Because shortly thereafter, we reached a point where yellow arrows pointed in two separate directions. Which route should we take? Our map didn’t show any alternative routes so we didn’t have any idea what the two different routes had to offer. I was glad I caught up to Amanda before reaching this point because otherwise I’d have been second-guessing myself about which direction Amanda might have chosen, and if I chose wrong, how would I know if I had passed her?

I let Amanda decide the route, and she picked the route to the right, which seemed to follow along a creek rather than the route to the left that appeared to follow a road. My gut instinct was that the road walk was shorter, but less scenic. Amanda was tired and I was pleasantly surprised that she opted for the presumably longer but more scenic route. But I figured it didn’t really matter which way I went today because whatever direction I didn’t go, that’s what I would do in a couple of weeks when I passed through again.

A short while after that, we reached another choice of routes, although someone had scrawled “short” in one direction and “old” in the other direction. The arrow pointing towards the “old” direction was on a post that looked considerably older and worn with age giving some validity to the scribblings.

Amanda was getting very tired as we neared the end of the day’s hike and this time opted for the “short” route.

A decision to be made--the "short" route, or the "old" route? Hmm....
The last part of the walk into town was up a very busy, noisy and generally unpleasant road. We had plenty of shop windows to look in and, upon finding a bookstore, Amanda got a second wind and dropped her pack leaving it outside with me and looked around. She seemed to take forever to return, but return she did with a few books for kids in Spanish. Not Nancy Drew (she didn’t find those), but one of those types of series.

Finally, she returned and we arrived at the hotel we had reserved. I definitely made sure to make a reservation ahead of time because when I checked availability online a few days earlier, I noticed that lodging was already filling up fast! It baffled me. How could all the hotels and hostels be so full in the middle of October?! In any case, I felt the best option was to make a reservation ahead of time so we wouldn’t have to trudge from place to place looking for a place to sleep.

Amanda was exhausted after the day’s hike. It wasn’t flat, and it rained for much of the day. She did well, but she was out for the count. I was anxious to get out and see Santiago again, though, and headed into the old town area on my own to look around.

On the way to the cathedral, I passed a small room with a bunch of vending machines and poked my head in. Amanda remembered the vending machine with sex toys that I found along the trail during my previous Camino walk, and she wanted to find one of those to take photos. So every time we would pass a vending machine, she’d stop to check it for sex toys. She hadn’t found any yet and always seemed a little disappointed. This place had a whole room full of vending machines, though…. It seemed as good as any place as any to look for sex toys, and one of them had it! I’d definitely have to make sure Amanda dropped in later. But Sassy Sally (the sheep who “takes it hard and likes it deep”) wasn’t there. Amanda might be disappointed about that. She really got a good laugh out of Sassy Sally. There was a miniature blow-up doll, though. Amanda might like that. It appeared to be by the same company. =)

There had been many changes at the cathedral since the last time I was there. The dramatic main entrance was closed due to renovations that were going on, and scaffolding covered the place inside and out. There was also now a separate entrance to see St. James’s crypt and the golden statue that everyone likes to hug. I know it’s not Buddha, but every time I see it, I think of Buddha. =)

The pilgrim office had moved since my last visit as well, and I walked over to find its new location so I could lead Amanda directly to it later.
The cathedral in Santiago... is under construction!
I also wanted to see about getting Amanda a roof tour of the cathedral tomorrow. I have fond memories of running around on the roof of the cathedral during my last visit, and I thought Amanda should enjoy the thrill as well. The location for that had moved, and it seemed very well promoted now. During my last visit, it didn’t seem heavily promoted and most people didn’t even know about it. Now there were large signs about it, front and center. The woman at the counter told me that they were already sold out for today—which was fine because I didn’t think Amanda had it in her to get out here today—but there were no English tours tomorrow. None?! At all?! That seemed astonishing to me. Giving the large number of English-speaking people who arrive into Santiago, you’d figure they would have at least a couple of English-language tours available every day of the week.

So, the roof tour was out.

On my way back to the hotel, I stopped at a supermarket to buy food for the next several days. Amanda would be flying home from Santiago, but I’d take a train to Porto and hike back to Santiago again. I still needed supplies for the next part of my journey!

Then I headed back to the hotel. Amanda had rested a bit and was ready to get out and see a bit more of Santiago. We wouldn’t go to the cathedral—we had all day tomorrow for that stuff. But I did take her to the vending machine with sex toys, and she wanted to stop at the supermarket to buy a few snacks for herself while in town and later on the train to Madrid and the flight back to the United States. Then we went out for dinner at a pizza place near our hotel before calling it a night.

Santiago! We had made it! =)

'Twas a wet, wet day!

It's a pop-up food cart! Woo-who! =)

Halloween is near!
Now that's one big-chested scarecrow!
At least this guy has an umbrella. Very appropriate for this day!

Don't throw in your shoes just yet! We're too close to the end!
Don't worry, Amanda only stopped long enough for this photo. =)
The cats are always watching...
It was kind of amusing watching this cat walk around on the tarp. =)

Love the tiles on this pharmacy! =)
You get the feeling that this building has pilgrims in it? =)
The walk into Santiago was a fairly ugly road walk. Oh, well...

Coolest penny-crushing machine ever! =)
There are Camino souvenirs out the wazoo in Santiago! =)

Pizza! (I got a slice.... *nodding*)
Inside the cathedral
Even the inside is covered with scaffolding.

Octopus... a Galician specialty!
More Halloween stuff! =)


Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

You keep talking about the vending machine, and then don't include photos of it? What a ripoff!

Amanda from Seattle said...

I'll post it on my facebook post of this blog for you

Amanda from Seattle said...

Also here is a link to the original vending machine that Ryan saw in Spain in 2012.

Ryan said...

It's not my fault! I couldn't get any good photos of it! Through all that glass and in a dimly lit area. My pictures didn't turn out well!