Walked 19.7 km, 5 hours 21 minutes (incl. SdC – airport)
Ascent: 20 meters
Descend: 120 meters
Kilometers to be traveled: 0
Photos / Video / Day back / Stamp card
Yes, it would be no different, a quiet night, without congestion in my sleep pattern. But no, this last night was also one of waking up and falling asleep, waking up and falling asleep, and continuing to repeat this pattern. The cause will probably be the sawmill club that held their monthly meeting in the bed above me.
Another cause may of course be that I reach my goal, which I started walking 36 days ago, now 35 nights ago. It started in Lourdes, my walking tour, my journey in Geleen to take the train in Liège to Paris and then Lourdes. Or started my journey in 2016 when I started planning / reading / figuring out how to set up a pilgrimage.
No, my journey started earlier, in 2009, when we made a car-pilgrimage from Fatima-Santiago de Compostela-Lourdes-Never. When we left SdC we saw pilgrims walking and we said we will do it. This has been the start of my journey. In the further past I have heard Dad talk about it, but I have not thought: I will do that too.
I am still awake before 6 am and as planned I try to make as little noise as possible so that the other 7 MPs are not disturbed in their sleep. I should actually leave a shit as a goodbye, but I never manage that early. In the hall of the barracks I pack everything well, make sure I am neat and can leave on time.
In the group app I indicate that I am starting and my brothers respond that they are gone and wish for success. The one in the truck to the Netherlands, the other to home after a night shift. Along the way I take the time to absorb everything and to take a picture every now and then. The emotions are coming up, my action cam is recording. There are very few people on the road or in the car. So it is Saturday to sleep late.
In the suburb I pass 1 other pilgrim, near the cathedral I will only see the next pilgrim. The road leads through streets and streets. In one street there is a hotel concierge outside and Buen Camino calls and I almost think Camino Finito. Occasionally you see the towers, they are getting closer, um I mean I am getting closer.
The Live sharing of Whatsapp comes on, they can now follow me step by step where I walk on the map. And I walk through the streets at the back of the church, past the bishop’s house. Then I see the canopy that leads to the square in front of the cathedral. Down the stairs and then left around the corner. I am at the cathedral, early in the morning and at rest, it is just after half past eight. YES I made it, I feel incredibly relieved, satisfied, happy, liberated, happy, a boulder, a go-getter ……
Congratulations from my brothers via the Whatsapp, now on to the official pilgrim office, which opens at 8 a.m. so that I can collect my compostella. When I arrive at the office via a small detour, I have made too few kilometers, there are already about 20 people waiting. The doors open at 8 o’clock and we can stand in line inside. Up to 17 counters can be opened in the office to hand out the compostels.
Now that it is still early, until I reach the neighborhood, 3 counters open. Each time 1 pilgrim enters the building and uses his stamp card to see how he walked. When it is my turn I am asked about my starting place, Lourdes, how I covered the distance, on foot, for what reason I walked, religiously. Then my compostella is written out. I also ask for the distance compostella. At 8.40 am I am outside again.
The living room of the Dutch Santiago Company will not open until 9 am. I keep waiting, because I want to register here too. I am the first Dutch pilgrim today. I am warmly welcomed, they are only busy as hospital eros on their 2nd day. 2 more pilgrims arrive during my cup of coffee. Around 10 o’clock I say goodbye and try to leave my backpack familiar somewhere, because I want to attend the pilgrim mass at 12 o’clock.
Not far from the desk I can put my backpack in custody and then walk to the cathedral. Just search for the entrance, because the main entrance on the square is closed due to the renovation, renovation of the facade. Everything in preparation for the next holy year. When I am in the cathedral, I first go to Saint James and put my arms around his shoulders, my body shivers. Yes I am now really at my end point, I had to go here.
After embracing the bust, I walk to the crypt to visit his grave, light a candle of gratitude and pray. Now find a place at the front to attend the 12-hour mass. Hoping that the censer will swing through the side aisles, I take a seat on the front bench in the left side aisle. I still have a glorious feeling, a satisfied feeling, an indescribable feeling. The banks fill up very slowly.
And then someone taps my shoulder, I look around and see Domenique, my French fellow pilgrim whom I know from day 2 in Spain and with whom I have walked many kilometers, shared many rooms, enjoyed many menu del slides and other dishes together . He knew that I wanted to arrive today and want to attend the pilgrim mass. We have a short conversation and say goodbye to each other. It is getting busier and busier in the church.
The mass starts at noon and I have already understood from others in the church that no censer is going to be hurled this mass. It is a very beautiful mass, with a choir of pilgrims from Italy, not walkers but bussers. It touches me very much, the emotions keep playing, it is also allowed, I have walked 950 kilometers.
After mass, look at where I am going to eat, that must also happen. After a tour of the city center I had dinner with the Mexican. After dinner I go to the square in front of the cathedral and watch the arrival, or rather the arrival, of new pilgrims. It is quite busy on the square, pilgrims are still coming in. People who meet again, perhaps for the last time, after seeing each other several times on the route.
When the store where I left my backpack opens, I walk to it to pick up my backpack. How do I go to the airport now? I can go by bus, I first have to walk to the bus station, I can go by taxi, but that is way too expensive. I can also walk … The weather is good, the time is more than sufficient and I had already decided to spend the night there.
So after the fourth hour in the afternoon I start my walk to the airport of Santiago, about 13 kilometers away. In the city I see the cyclist with trailer and his 3 dogs once more. I walk towards the outskirts of the city, now I still encounter pilgrims still searching their way to the cathedral. When crossing the highway a class of Monte de Gozo comes down, also to reach their goal.
I do not walk into the road to Monte de Gozo, but turn left, it is now following the road uphill to the airport. About halfway you will come across the Camino Frances crossing, turn left towards the airport (the walking path) and turn right towards Monte de Gozo. I continue to follow the main road, because I do not want to end up at the runway, but at the departure / arrival hall.
Twenty past six I arrive at the roundabout in front of the airport, where there is a large pilgrim statue. Now turn right and another 1 km to the hall. I am in the hall before 7 am. It is not a large airport, but very new and modern. Let’s see what there is to do and until what time, because there is a big possibility that soon everything will be closed and nothing can be bought anymore.
So eat something as long as you can and buy something to drink for the long night. And when everything is closed, look for a place where we can sleep. It is quickly found, a row of chairs that is linked to each other, where I can stretch out and perhaps turn a blind eye. I’m not the only one overnight at the airport, there are quite a few, all of whom have an early flight.
To pass the time, I take out the mp3 player again after 36 days and listen to music in the hope of falling asleep and resting. I have earned it, I am a PELGRIM, I have been to Saint Jacques.