Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Camino 2013 - Days 47 And 48: Santiago De Compostela And The Way Home

Day 47

I walked with Gv to the airport bus stop less than a block from our hotel.  Her bus came at 10:00 AM, we said our goodbyes, and I waved as the bus pulled around the corner.  I now was alone and I had eleven hours to kill before my bus left.  Once again I had that 'last at the party' feeling.  I don't much like that feeling.  On the other hand, if I'd left first I would have felt like I was missing out on something.  I can't win.
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The rainy streets of Santiago de Compostela.
I walked to the pilgrim's consignment office, an addition since the last time I was there, and left my bag there.  For two euros they would keep you bag for a day.  Now, without my bag, I was free to walk around the city.

A couple hours later I'd pretty much visited every souvenir shop.  I'd looked up and down for a nice Virgin Mary for the Wife and came up empty handed.  I did buy a necklace, bracelet, and earring set for the Wife's Christmas present.

I gave in and ate at the Burger King for lunch.  I did the same thing last time so it may be the start of a ritual ... who knows.  I stopped at the internet cafe next door and checked email and news.  Nothing much had happened in the seven weeks since I'd last checked the news.  It was still messed up.  At Gv's suggestion I looked up the email address for Hotel Larry and sent an email about my shell necklace.
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A famous statue in a nearby park.
I wandered around ducking in and out of places as the sun ducked in and out of rain clouds.  I ended up sitting in the Cathedral and writing in my notebook several times during my wait.  It was the easiest and most comfortable place to be when it was raining outside.  It was also fun to watch the pilgrims and the tourists wander around.  You could tell the pilgrims by the wonder in their eyes and the silly grins.
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A bench and statue memorializing a favorite professor. 
I ate my last ice cream - one scoop of chocolate chocolate chip with two scoops of dulce de leche - while I walked in a nearby park.  This was my last ice cream ... well, it was the last one in Santiago de Compostela anyway.  It was very good.

I pointed several pilgrims toward the pilgrim's office.  I took pictures for a group of bike pilgrims in front of the Cathedral.  I tried my best to kill time.  The sun even made an appearance in the afternoon.
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Pilgrims enjoying the sun and the end of their Camino.
I'd given up on seeing anyone I knew.  Nr had left to walk to Fisterra that morning and most of the people I'd met were long gone.  Then I met the old Brother and Sister (the guy wore the "I'm not her husband" t-shirt).  I hadn't seen them in ages - I'm guessing it was over a month.  They remembered me and asked about Gv.  They'd just arrived and they seemed very happy.  I ran into them several times that day as they were touring the Cathedral.  I considered taking the Cathedral audio-tour too but never did.

When it came time to eat dinner I was totally indecisive.  I walked from one restaurant to another checking out menus and nothing ... I mean nothing sounded good.  I realized now that when it came time to eat I'd just followed the crowd or, in most cases, Gv.  I ended up buying an apple, a banana, and an Aquarius Limon (a lemon sports drink) at a small tienda.

The drizzle returned so I went to the consignment office, picked up my pack, and headed to the bus station before it really started to rain.  By the time I got there I was sweating and my four dollar umbrella was giving up the ghost.  I dumped the umbrella in a trash bin and explored the very uninteresting bus station.  Most of the little stands in the station closed their doors at 8:00 PM and they only sold sugary snacks anyway so I avoided them.  I'd had enough sugar for the day.  I did find a place to buy a sandwich and a coke and that topped off my dinner for the day ... oh and the tube of double stuff Principes in my bag.

I confirmed where my bus would be (I'd bought the tickets the night we returned to Santiago de Compostela from Muxía) and I waited.  As usual I'd come to the station way too early.  I kept my eyes open for other pilgrims but I didn't see any.  I guess most pilgrims either fly home or take the train.  I was taking the bus more for time reasons than anything.  The train got to Madrid too late for me to catch my flight.  The bus would drop me off at the airport with time to spare.

The bus left on time.  There was only one more pilgrim on the bus - a bike pilgrim - who spent most of his time talking on his cell phone.  I tried to sleep but it didn't come easy.  The bus passed through  A Coruña, Lugo, and Ponferrada, on the way to Madrid.  It was funny to see Camino markers as we passed Pereje and approached Ponferrada - especially since I was going the opposite direction as I'd walked it.  It was too early in the morning for pilgrims to be walking when we passed through.

Day 48

I arrived in Madrid, changed buses and got to the airport five minutes early.  I was so early I had to wait an hour or so before I could check into my flight.  I gave my pack to the airline clerk and hoped it would get home in one piece (it did).

Going through the first security checkpoint was easy.  There was a second checkpoint at the gate - thank you America for your strict security rules.  I stop at a cafe and bought my last natural orange juice and chocolate napoleon for breakfast.  I topped it off with an ice cream bar ... yes, ice cream for breakfast.  I tried my best to get rid of my euro coins but didn't quite succeed.

They opened the second security checkpoint and I went through.  I was picked for a secondary screening.  They asked me questions about what I was doing, gave me a basic pat down, and x-rayed everything I had and searched my carry on.  Nothing major.

I bought an Economist magazine to read on the flight to Chicago, I ate everything they offered on the flight, and did my best to stay awake so that I would be in sync when I got home.  I even watched the in flight movie, something I rarely do.

In Chicago you have to go through immigration.  What a freaking mess!!!  I ended up standing in four different, long, slow, and unorganized lines.  Fortunately I had plenty of time to work my way through the security/immigration swamp.

I ate at McDonalds and finished the meal off with some Ben and Jerry's.

The flight home lifted off just as the sun was going down.  The view out the window was spectacular.  Once again the sun was pointing the way.
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From my airplane, the sun going down outside of Chicago.
The Wife picked me up at the airport.  I think I was a little more mellow about the whole experience this time.  I will post more about how I felt in a future post but for now I can say that, while I enjoyed my Camino, I was happy for it to be over and for me to be home.

Pictures can be found in my Camino de Santiago 2013 Flickr set.

Total Distance Walked: 991 km (615.78 Miles)

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