Day 47: My last day on the Via de la Plata
0 days to go / 30km to Santiago de Compostela
I woke up after the BEST night's sleep and left before sunrise for my final day walking. It was a quiet and somewhat lonely morning, so different from the ones I’d been having the past few days. I enjoyed it all the same; soon enough I’d be in the city and missing this moment of solitude.
As per usual I’d planned to leave a lot earlier than I actually did. I imagined myself setting off around six in the morning, walking in the magnificent blue-hour that marks the break of dawn… but indulgence got the better of me. I relished the quiet morning and having the entire hostel to myself, and I didn't get out until seven.
When I did finally leave, I found that I was higher up than I realised. There were breathtaking views first thing, plus at that hour I was still in time for the sunrise. The entire place was bathed in the morning light that I love so much, golden strands of sun. It was genuinely the nicest morning of all.
I hadn’t yet had breakfast but decided to make a little detour when I came across a sign that showed a nearby “mirador” - a viewpoint, a place for looking. It must be good. One short but steep climb later, I arrived and witnessed the best view of the whole trail. I wish my day hadn’t been so long as I’d have loved to stay there a while.
I moved on and found my breakfast spot, a gorgeous cafe at the edge of a bridge. I crossed over the loudly flowing river below and sat down for my now-traditional breakfast of pan con tomate, orange juice and a cup of hot tea, chatting with the lady who owned the place for a bit. I had a ways to go but I found myself taking it slower than usual, not for any physical reason, but simply taking the time to savour my last day here.
Much of the trail was through woodland, a pleasant surprise which I thoroughly enjoyed. I especially loved walking through the Eucalyptus woods, catching the scent of the trees as I went. It’s not the first time I’ve walked by them - they’re quite common in this region - but this was definitely the biggest one I’d walked through so far. I ambled my way along the trail, enjoying the day and finally feeling my energy and strength returning to normal levels. The weather was kind too, the sun hidden behind clouds and a perfect light breeze.
I met a few pilgrims on the way, all of whom were stopping for the day at a brilliant-looking albergue bang in the middle of the woods, not all that far before the city. I was tempted but said goodbye and pushed on. Soon enough I emerged from the woods to the first hint of the city's suburbs. By this time, the sun was high up in the sky and had come out from the clouds so I stopped for lunch and a break. I realised with some laughs that one boot had completely fallen apart; perfect timing, and the perfect weather for it!
Finally, in the late afternoon, I crossed over into Santiago de Compostela proper. I was getting excited and couldn't stop smiling to myself. It felt strange, being so close to the end, though I had to focus and make a big effort to go over one final hill in the sweltering heat.
The last steps were a blur of the suburbs that slowly transformed into the city. Just as I reached the last hundred steps, I was met by road closures due to construction. Isn't that typical? I lost the arrows and made my own way from this point on, wandering quite aimlessly in the general direction until I found some familiar landmarks, familiar from the last time I’d been here, only to realise I was at the cathedral’s butt.
A few more steps and wrong turns and I arrived. The front of the cathedral was clear of construction now, having been covered in scaffolding for several years. I’d walked in alone and now looked about, wondering if there was anyone familiar nearby. I sat for a while in the huge plaza in front of the cathedral, watching as more pilgrims arrived and celebrated the end of their Camino. I’d known it would be a weird, almost anti-climatic feeling; I felt the same last time I arrived here. Relieved at having reached the end, but so many other feelings mixed in; sad that it’s ended, but more like a feeling of loss, as well as feeling quite, I don’t know… something I’d describe as serene perhaps.
I didn’t even feel as exhausted as I have been these past days, even after the long 30 km day. I guess I was a bit hyped up on the excitement and emotion.
Not long later, I bumped into the group of pilgrims I’d been sharing albergues with for the last few days. After a rush to the pilgrim office to pick up my certificate before they closed, I dragged a chair over and sat down heavily, happy to just relax, chat and drink with my fellow walkers who I’d likely never see again after this.
After forty-seven days on the trail, over 900km from Sevilla, I’ve reached the end of my second Camino de Santiago.
Until next time,
Watch this space for a final “epilogue” and wrap up of this incredible journey!
Hey! Ameena here - I’m a freelance portraiture and documentary photographer based in London. I enjoy telling stories about adventure, the outdoors, and our relationship with the natural world.
In this newsletter, I’m digitally retracing my steps on the Camino de Santiago. From March to May 2019, over 45 days, I walked over 900km along the Via de la Plata (the Silver Way) route of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.
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