El Camino Frances

The Traditional Route from France

Santiago

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In Santiago

11 June 1993 and 4/5 July 2002

Now that we have reached the end of the Camino what is there to do? In 1993 it was fairly simple. Tomas needed to catch an early bus so he crept quietly out of the hotel room before 7am. Oscar and I dozed until 9.30 then, storing our rucksacks at the hotel, we returned to the plaza behind the cathedral to look out for other pilgrims arriving.

The rest of the day was spent exploring the city, on foot of course, then I made my way to the coach station to catch the early evening bus to Carballo. Manolo and MariCarmen had invited several other pilgrims to their house and we spent a few days being escorted around Galicia to enjoy the scenery and cuisine.

This also included a fiesta at the beautiful fishing village of Malpica and a final queimada on the beach at midnight with the witches spell being read out by torchlight.

In 2002 I had more time to spend in Santiago but the plans I had made kept changing from day to day. My original intention had been to spend a day arranging my flight back to the UK for about a week's time, shopping and watching out for fellow pilgrims arriving at the Pilgrim's Office before setting off on another three day walk to Finisterra.

The day went according to plan until, during our evening meal, we decided to find a place which would put on a queimada for us. The ceiling in the restaurant (El Camilo again) was too low for the flames but the waiter kindly directed us to a bar frequented by students which would oblige us before it got too busy. This bar (Fonte Sequelo, Rua Bispo Xelmirez 24, near the Cathedral) was so good we stayed there until gone three in the morning and the walk to Finisterra was postponed indefinitely.

The next day followed a similar pattern but included a guided tour of Los Reyes Catolicos by Diane and Carolyn who had booked a room there. Their cousin Mark had been a member of our gang for most of the Camino so of course we had to take him to the bar for a queimada and another very late night ensued, talking to the regulars and dancing with the students.

I needed a rest after these two hectic nights so the next day I took the early afternoon bus to Carballo where I met up with Manolo and MariCarmen just in time for a neighbour's birthday party. Thoroughly exhausted I finally got a couple of days rest in Malpica where I could explore the village and the restaurants at leisure.

A few weeks later the tanker Prestige broke in two and I watched my television in horror as the heavy oil covered the beach and promenade. Fortunately there was little sign of damage when I returned in 2006.