I decided to get to the pilgrim office this morning before it opened at 8am just to be sure I got my Compostella certificate.
At 7.45 there was already a long queue in the rain.
Before long, the queue behind me was just as long. I got to chat with some people behind me whose accent gave them away as Malaysian.
Soon I was inside with my ticket – number 101, the same as my room number.
There’s now a computerised system that allows you to keep track of how things are going, so I headed off for breakfast . My number came up a few hours later.
At that stage people arriving were getting numbers in the 400s and excitedly looking at the information screen only to see there were 300 ahead of them. Three years ago I just wandered in and queued for half an hour.
And here’s what my credencial looks like.
A lot of people miss out. My Malaysian friends for example weren’t there when their numbers came up.
Others don’t even bother as the memories are the most important thing you get from walking.
Santiago is dominated by its cathedral.
There’s a lot of conservation work underway so the usual pilgrim masses aren’t being held.These are the ropes that are used to swing the giant incense burner traditionally used to try to kill all the fleas etc infesting arriving pilgrims.
Here’s a photo of the burner or botafumeiro in action from my last visit here 3 years ago.
The cathedral is still open and you can go behind the statue of Santiago to ’embrace the apostle’.
One of the interesting medieval capitals.
Here’s a statue of ‘Santiago Matamoros’ or ‘Santiago the Moor Slayer’.
This relates to a story that Santiago appeared at the legendary Battle of Clavijo and assisted in a Spanish victory . It underlines the importance of Satiago in the Spanish identity.
The city is of course awash with souvenirs.
I continue to run into people I met walking. However the strangest was when someone with a vaguely familiar face came up to me and started talking to me in Spanish.
Alfonso was a pilgrim I met in a hostel in Rome 18 months ago just after I’d completed my walk along the Via Romea Germanica and had he’d finished the Via di San Francesco. What a great memory he has!
Santiago has a very attractive old centre.
This is the 19th century Cafe Casino.
Here I ran into Lois who has been walking for over 3 months, mainly sleeping in his tent.
The last time I saw him was 3 days ago in Sobrido. He tried to set up his tent at the monastery albergue but they wouldn’t let him so he checked into a hotel. I don’t think he likes to sleep in a room with others.
Tonight I caught up with my friend Bert whi arrived today and is contining on to Finisterre. Tomorrow it’s back to Bologna, airport protests permitting, to meet up with my wife before we head home to Australia.