Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 16 - Castro Dozon to Santiago de Compostela

I sit here with a heavy head (too much wine last night!) and mixed feelings about being finished. You get so used to the routine of riding and travelling that it is strange to be finished.

The evening before in Castro Dozon the dark clouds and wind has started to build, the forecast was not good, and we expected storms over night with heavy rain and strong winds forecast.

The final day started with our usual early wake up, we awoke to pitch black darkness and rain. We decided to sleep another 30mins and check if there was any improvement. We woke again at 7:30am and it was still pitch black but the rain had eased a little.

We had to be in Santiago as we already had a hotel booked and paid for, along with a connecting train the following day. Our new Spanish friends were a little more flexible but we decided we should all travel together in the bad weather.

Slowly getting ready, it passed 8am and it was still pitch black. Usually by now the sun was really heating up, but today it couldn't even break through the heavy clouds.

Everyone put on all their clothing to keep warm and dry, we laughed at Luis and Augusto who had packed their work all weather gear, along with some plastic bags for booties.

Louis & Augusto in their all weather kit

As we rolled out, the rain eased a little further and some light finally broke through the clouds.

Ominous clouds
Augusto's broken rack mount was still not very sturdy, and there was no way it would survive on the offroad trails. So they had planned a route entirely on the road, which closely followed the offroad sections of the proper camino way.

With the weather so bad, we decided that we should stick together, at least until it improved. But we would take the last 20k as a minimum on the proper trails.

Getting clearer
The first 30k of the day were all downhill, still being fairly early for a Sunday morning we bombed down in the rain in the middle of the road on the national highway.

Just as it started to clear a little more

Another front rolled in and the rain got heavy again, and we got soaked



Driving the train in the rain
Regrouping at the bottom or top of each hill, the traffic was getting busier so we were now riding in the shoulder a lot slower. The further north we had travelled the less cycle friendly the traffic became, which was even more of a problem in the rain.

Rishi and I decided that we would take the offroad trails at the next junction, with 20k remaining to Santiago. But we would all regroup at a small town 10k from Santiago.

Back on the trail, no traffic!
As we rolled up into the hills, it was relief to be back in the forest with no vehicles around.

The region is a typically wet place, and the rain had not slowed the trails at all. So we rolled through in the quiet forest, passing through the occasional small village with the motorway in the distance.

Rain again
Getting darker!

Meeting up with our freinds back on the motorway intersection, they had only beat us by 2mins! With the camino route being more direct but through the rolling hills rather than the flatter motorway.

The boys!

We set off together back on the Camino, which was now approaching the outskirts of Santiago.


Almost there

Santiago in the distance
Finally we caught our first glimpse of the Catherdral and everyone went quiet, slowing down and realising we had almost finished. 16 days of riding everyday towards a destination, but really it was about the experience of the journey, which was coming to an end.

Arriving to the cathedral with the hoardes
After the final slug up the hill into the old town we emerged onto the main camino route joining the masses of people arriving from the more popular Camino Frances, with hundreds of walkers and more cyclists we had seen in the entire journey.

First glimpse of the cathedral

The final group
Everyone is elated, and almost in a surreal daze to be finished. People all around are reuniting with each other laughing, taking photos. And eventually visiting the church, passing the Portico de la Gloria which is now unfortunately roped off, and touching the altar above the tomb of st James.

The altar

For us though this was not a religious journey, rather an experience. Which is true for many today.

After 3 nights of Albergues, we leave behind the journey and checkin to a hotel, a hot shower and same relaxing.

We reunite with our new freinds later and receive our Compestelas, a certificate of our completion of the camino.

Celebrations follow, with the plan to indulge in Santiagos speciality, "pulpo ala galega" octopus with pimento on, olive oil & rock salt.

1euro Jarras at 100 montaditos

Pulpo time

The Pulpo

The feast, and wine in bowls!

Proper man bar

Cathedral by night
And the journey is complete.

Time to start planning the next one :)

The boys will do the Northern Route same time next year

Now a night on the train, 3 nights in Madrid, and finally back to Melbourne.


1 comment:

  1. Luis Sánchez ArrayásSeptember 26, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    Ha sido todo un placer haberos conocido. Ojala coincidamos algún día y nos volvamos a ver.
    Un saludo de Luis y Augusto