We left our Albergue in Santa Irene early this morning and walked the six km or so to Amenal for breakfast in company with two Australian women we’ve met from time to time since our first day – they’ve been on the road for five weeks, from St. Jean, and are very excited. We pass many of the others we’ve met in the last fortnight in the early stages of today and its good to exchange ‘Buen Camino’ wishes with them again – will be interesting to see how many we bump into in Santiago over the next couple of days.
After breakfast we push on and are in Santiago in time for lunch. The haul up to Monte del Gozo feels like hard work but the first views of Santiago are very welcome. It seems a long walk (four km or so) through the suburbs till we reach the old town and finally see the cathedral but we have the company of a fellow pilgrim from Kirkpatrick Durham (yes – really – the first UK pilgrim we’ve spoken to at length comes from just down the road from Mum and Dad!) for the latter part of this, which makes the time pass quickly.
To be honest, the main facade of the cathedral overlooking Praza do Obradoiro is a little ornate for our tastes – give me Durham any time – but we sit for a while in the sun soaking up the atmosphere. I’ll come back later and have a look inside. Rosie is currently wearing my skirt to shade her sunburnt legs – the only item of ‘decent’ clothing we have with us! There are lots of tired pilgrims resting against the walls, dozing in the sun. Plenty of touts offer us accomodation but I was relieved to be able to book us two nights in a central Albergue on the Internet last night, so we are sorted.
We make our way to the Pilgrim office and collect our Compostela and a celebratory beer before heading to the hostel to drop our bags. Annoyingly, when we turn up at 1.40, we find the hostel is closed from 1.30 till 3.30 so we have to wait to get rid of our boots and packs. We find lunch nearby and then sit reading on the steps by the cathedral until the hostel opens. It’s worth waiting for though – our room has just five beds and its clean and comfortable with good wifi :-).