On my way … Day 34 … Lavacolla to Santiago

Wednesday, June 15th … 11 km … 7 miles 

Today’s Path 

We only have a short 7 miles today. Once we leave Lavacolla, we will have some hills in the suburbs of Santiago. Most of today is on pavement and sidewalks. The pilgrim Mass is at noon, but we have all decided to walk and enjoy the day and attend the 7:00 pilgrims Mass. I shared with everyone, that one pilgrimage we rushed to make the noon Mass and it wore us out and we didn’t enjoy the final day as much.  

Our Final Day 

Of course, today was a joyous day! After 33 days, we will be walking into Santiago. Happy and sad all at the same time. We did the normal daily routine. Walk for a little while and stop at a café. We were in no hurry, just enjoying the day. 

As we were leaving Lavacolla, I shared with everyone that this was the town where the medieval pilgrims would bathe before entering the holy city of Santiago de Compostela. We stopped for a moment, felt the water, pondered the significance and rinsed our hands.  

The camino continued. Up and down. Cafes. Neighborhoods. More Ups and more downs. We arrived at the base of the Mount of Joy, or Monte do Gozo, we decided it was time to eat. Perfect! There is a nice cafe at the bottom and we enjoyed a nice meal. Some of you might be asking what is the Mount of Joy? 

Monte do Gozo or Mount of Joy, is a little hill at the end of the Camino Frances. This spot provides a special moment at the end of the journey. It may bring happiness, joy, or simply a relief that the end is in sight. This is the spot where we the pilgrim will have our first glimpse of the great towers of the Cathedral! Only 5 more km to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. 

Mount of Joy

After our breakfast, we headed up the hill to the Mount of Joy. We were all so excited. When we arrived and saw the Cathedral towers, we all cheered! I could see everyone walking a little lighter. We ran into part of the baby family, we all hugged and celebrated.  

The monument was built to commemorate the visit by Pope John Paul II in August of 1993 where he said a mass for thousands, on that year’s World Youth Day. The pilgrim statues, which point to Santiago, are on a hill to the left of the monument. I pointed it out to everyone and asked if they wanted to walk over to them, it was a little distance and we all decided to skip it since we did see the towers from the hilltop. The pics of the statues below are from a different Santiago pilgrimage I walked.

The final stretch 

After our celebration we walked downhill, a steep downhill into the city. We arrived at the highway and the train tracks. A nice pedestrian bridge walking over both, followed by sculptures along the sidewalk and then to the famous Santiago sign! 

The rest of the walk was through the city streets. Just a lot of exciting chatter amongst us all. We all were anxiously waiting to arrive at the Cathedral and the Praza do Obradoiro! Even with the excitement, the city streets were getting old and our feet were tired. We all were thinking the same thing! Let’s just get to the Plaza!! Let’s just get to the Cathedral! 

Then there it was! The Plaza! The Cathedral! We had arrived! We celebrated, we took pics, and we rested! Taking our shoes off, our backpacks off and just sitting and admiring the Cathedral. Every day, every step was going through my head! All the pain, all the joy! It was perfect! 

We stayed there awhile and cheered as all of our friends entered the Plaza! The celebration was amazing! 

We had time to wait until we could check into our apartment! So, we were in no hurry. We had arrived! Now to enjoy this city with all of our friends.  

Our Apartment

Pilgrims Mass

I have never cried so much, the presence of Our Lord and the celebration was overwhelming! Then we were blessed to see the Botafumeiro (Galician for ‘”smoke expeller”‘) swing! The tradition, the celebration what a way to end our pilgrimage!!

My Journal: 

Lavacolla to Santiago, June 15, 2018 … 11 km … 7 miles

We walked most of the day with our original group. Knowing we would see everyone in Santiago it was a nice walk. We left a little early so we could arrive early in the square before the tourists arrive into Santiago. It was nice. So emotional today, more than my other walks. I guess walking for 33 days makes a big difference. When we arrived at Mount of Joy and saw the cathedral towers we all were so excited, I shed tears of joy. Minh yelled out a WOW! and we all laughed and celebrated. We joyfully walked into Santiago! Arriving into the square in Santiago was overwhelming. I can’t describe my feelings. I just sat there in awe! So thankful to arrive yet so sad it was over. Thank you Jesus for our safety and health along the way, Thank you for all the lessons, blessings and gifts and Thank you St. James for guiding on this incredible journey!

Our time in Santiago 

We had an amazing time in Santiago. Our apartment was perfect. We had two surprise visitors when we arrived, Merci and Anni came for the weekend to celebrate and be with us! Seeing all of our friends was amazing. It was cool how we just kept running into everyone. One day we even ran into Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. How could you miss her hat! One night at our apartment we had a little celebration with the baby family and Marcia stopped by as well.

All was well and our journey was over! At least, this Santiago adventure had come to an end! But for Cale and I, we were heading over to Israel to walk the Jesus Trail! 

Stay tuned for our Jesus Trail Pilgrimage! 

“Don’t come to the Camino looking for answers. Instead, come with an open heart and you may be surprised by what you find.”

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Not sure if you want to walk it alone or with a group?

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