Walking the Camino - Final Leg from Pedrouzo to Santiago

Walking the Camino - Final Leg from Pedrouzo to Santiago

Santiago Marker
Santiago Marker. Wendy Bumgardner ©

This final leg of the Camino de Santiago French Way (Camino Frances) is 19.7 kilometers (12.2 miles) for those walking a classic Brierley guidebook stage from Pedrouzo to Santiago. I am walking "the easy way" and splitting it into two walking days of 10 kilometers and 9 kilometers. I started a couple of kilometers before Pedrouzo, at O Acivro and spent a final night at Lavacolla.

I got started around 9 a.m., in no rush as I had only 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to walk and it was the last day with woodsy trails. I knew the kilometer markers would end by the end of this walking day, so I got photos of most of them.

I also noted that at the first bar of the day (where I had another cup of coffee and used the restroom) that they had a sign that I believe said their stamp would not count on your credencial, it was for souvenir only. Thank heavens I’ve been getting three stamps per day and not just the required two! I made sure to stamp at two more places during this day and that they didn’t have a similar sign.

Corn Harvester at Work

Camino - Corn Harvesting Near Amenal
Camino - Corn Harvesting Near Amenal. Wendy Bumgardner ©

The route included steep ups and down but always on a good wide path. Usually it was walking through eucalyptus forest and I enjoyed the fresh scent. I saw just a couple of widow-maker branches down and I prayed there wouldn’t be any victims! My Aussie friends say they come down even without any wind.

I also enjoyed some great vistas over farm fields, including this corn harvester at work and a field with friendly sheep.

Circling the Airport

Camino - Stick Crosses in Airport Fence
Camino - Stick Crosses in Airport Fence. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Between Amenal and San Paio, the Camino de Santiago parallels the airport runway of the Santiago de Compostela Lavacolla Airport. Most of the time you are screened from seeing the airport by trees. The caretakers of the Camino do a great job at maintaining a forest experience so close to town.

Near the end of the runway you walk next to a fence where pilgrims have made makeshift crosses with sticks. This continues on chain link fences for the next few kilometers.

I didn't feel moved to add any sticks to the fences.

Taking the Sheep for a Walk

Camino - Taking Sheep to Pasture
Camino - Taking Sheep to Pasture. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Soon after the airport, I enjoyed the view of this gentleman and his wife taking their small flock of sheep out to the pasture next to their house. You can see their Galician hórreo granary shed.

I was able to be of use to some other peregrinos today. It was the first time I had to use my own toilet paper in a restroom at a cafe, and I warned others in line. A gal received an unopened bottle of beverage and the waitress was too busy to open it. I whipped out my keychain bottle opener and opened it for her - happy it was in my hip pocket and not in my pack.

A lot of bike pilgrims passed by on the trail today. I still find them irritating, but they were friendly and wished "Buen Camino."

Lavacolla - Wash Your Privates

Camino - Stream at Lavacolla
Camino - Stream at Lavacolla. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Lavacolla translates to “wash your privates.” Literally, it’s where peregrinos would take a bath so they were acceptable to come into the city. This is one of the streams they would have used.

I wish I had modified "the easy way" itinerary and not had an overnight in Lavacolla, but my hotel room at the Ruta Jacobea was very plush and the dinner and breakfast were excellent. For dinner I had scallops baked in the shell. I almost asked if I could keep the shells!

But it was lonely. I was the only obvious pilgrim there. I wandered into the town and didn't see any pilgrims loitering there in the afternoon.

The bathroom didn't have a bidet, so I had to do my lavacolling with the shower. I made good use of the fast WiFi at the hotel to catch up with journaling and posting.

Last Day on the Camino Begins

Camino - Shadow and Farms
Camino - Shadow and Farms. Wendy Bumgardner ©

I awoke at 5 a.m. and I could see stars through the window - Compostela translates to field of stars! That seemed like a very good sign.

I started walking at 9 a.m. The weather was clear and beautiful. I took this obligatory "shadow of the perergrino" photo, which I had few opportunities to do on the previous cloudy mornings.

The route went through the tiny town of Lavacolla and then up, up, up the back side of Monte de Gozo. I stopped at the first bar/cafe to ensure I got a stamp, and again at the camp at the top of the hill.

It was still a woodsy and country setting for five kilometers.

Monte do Gozo Monument

Monte de Gozo Monument
Monte de Gozo Monument. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Monte do Gozo is "Hill of Joy" where pilgrims could first spot the spires of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Now, it is pretty much impossible to see the cathedral from this vantage point.

There is the clunky monument commemorating the visit by Pope John Paul II in August 1989. It is universally derided in guidebooks and peregrino blogs. I got a sello at the little chapel of San Marcos and lit some coin-op candles.

Pilgrim Statues - Monte do Gozo

Pilgrim Statues - Monte do Gozo
Pilgrim Statues - Monte do Gozo. Wendy Bumgardner ©

I wondered why the guidebook and walking notes from Camino Ways said nothing about the cool pilgrim statues we visited two years ago at Monte do Gozo. It turns out the are at least a half kilometer (each way) detour off the Camino.

I spotted the peregrino statues in the far distance but wasn’t sure how to get to them, so I kept going. The cathedral was now less than five kilometers away.

Here is my photo from the previous trip, they are well-worth the detour to see. As you can see with my photo with the statues, they are larger than life. They were erected in 1993 and created by artist Jose Maria Acuña.

From this vantage point, you can spot the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, unless you have low clouds and rain as I did on the day of this photo.

Into Santiago de Compostela

Porta do Camino - Into the Old Town of Santiago de Compostela
Porta do Camino - Into the Old Town of Santiago de Compostela. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Now the route heads down to town and we share the sidewalk with normal people. But the signage is still good and there is a steady stream of pilgrims to follow. I take care at intersections - too close to die now!

At last I can spot a cathedral spire over the rooftops. Then cross into the old town through the Porta do Camino. The route takes me past my hotel, which is at the side of the cathedral. But I kept going around to the big Plaza Obradoiro in front.

I've Made it to Santiago!

Camino Complete at the Cathedral de Santiago
Camino Complete at the Cathedral de Santiago. Wendy Bumgardner ©

I completed my pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, like millions of pilgrims before me over the past 1000 years.

Sinners all, some saints, most on foot, from all corners of the world. As it was then, so it is now. Plaza Obradoiro sees a constant flow of peregrinos arriving, speaking a myriad of languages.

This "hold your backpack over your head" pose is a standard Camino meme. As with many of my Camino photos, it was taken by another friendly pilgrim. You really don't need a selfie stick on the Camino, everyone loves to help you get a photo.

Love Rock and Shell for Denise Thiem

Love Rock and Shell for Denise Thiem Arrive at the Cathedral de Santiago
Love Rock and Shell for Denise Thiem Arrive at the Cathedral de Santiago. Wendy Bumgardner ©

I took photos of my special mementos carried to Santiago for others. I carried a Love Rock in memory of Anna and Abby, two little girls from my hometown who died in a tragic accident. I posted the photo to Facebook for the family. They spread these rocks out to encourage us all to live a "love drenched life."

I intended to leave the Love Rock in Santiago to be discovered by others. But it insisted on hiding in my luggage and coming back home with me. I guess it wants to go on my next journey!

I carried a second shell for Denise Thiem, the American murdered on the Camino earlier this year, whose body was just discovered and an arrest made the day I started my Camino. I delivered the shell to the Pilgrim House and it was the first one to arrive.

Even when we walk alone, we never walk alone.

Receiving my Compostela

Compostela Certificate
Compostela Certificate. Wendy Bumgardner ©

It was a little before noon, when the Pilgrim's Mass is celebrated at the cathedral. But since you can’t enter the cathedral with a pack, I decided to get my Compostela certificate at the Pilgrim's Office and attend the mass the next day.

I got in line at 12:07 p.m. and the line extended only to the door of the courtyard. At other times I saw it extending down the street, so this was a good time to line up. I was surrounded by peregrinos who were not speaking in English, so I didn't enjoy any chatting. The courtyard has shade and some seating to perch on. I was finally at the head of the line and called in at 12:45 p.m.

The volunteer in the Pilgrim's Office verified I had enough stamps in my credencial (two per day through Galicia). He gave me the final stamp for the cathedral. He inscribed my name and the date on the Compostela certificate. He consulted a book of names to translate Wendy and my middle name into Latin.

I bought the mailing tube for the certificate from them and donated 5 euros. It was super! In the cathedral gift shop, I bought a shell rosary for mom. Then I used the “Pilgrim’s only” restroom.

 Now I was a certified, official pilgrim, a true peregrina!

Next: Exploring the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

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