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Thursday, 11 June 2015

We made it

This morning we shouldered our backpacks, for the last time , on this journey to Santiago, and it was with some apprehension that we started our walk. The last ten kilometres of the Portuguese Camino, as it winds its way towards the Cathedral in Santiago, is a steep climb to reach the city atop the hill. We climbed steeply, along a country road lined on either side with eucalyptus trees until we reached Agro dos Monteiros and there for the first time on our journey we saw, above the trees, the ornate spires of the Cathedral. Could our long and at times very hot journey be coming to an end? That was our main thought as we slowly descended to cross over a railway line and from our previous Portuguese Camino experiences we should have known better. This Camino had a final sting in its tail as it rose almost vertically for about two kilometres and irony of ironies as we gasped our way up we passed the main Santiago hospital. Soon we were walking through the shopping streets and then suddenly we recognised Rua Franco and within minutes we were standing in the square before the Cathedral. After two previous Caminoes to Santiago I was surprised by the release of emotion we experienced as we stood in the square surrounded by pilgrims from across the globe. It wasn't like 2012 or 2013. This was different, every Camino is unique and each journey sets out its own challenges and delivers its own rewards. We had arrived and true to the recent history of this Camino we were an hour earlier than planned. In the cathedral we were fortunate to be seated on the pilgrim reserved front row and had the pleasure of sharing the first two pews with the people we had shared our journey with. The circle was complete. At the sign of peace it was genuine hugs from our friends from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland and Holland. We had endured many moments of the journey together and now we celebrated the finish. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully we will be more energised to celebrate but for tonight it was tapas with local cider and an early night.

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