Hamez & Grant join Dan

A few weeks ago James (aka Hamez) and I were invited onto Dan Mullins’ My Camino the Podcast. Before replying, I asked Hamez. “Sure,” he said. We all agreed upon a suitable time, a Sunday morning, and we received the zoom invite from Dan.

I’d been listening to Dan’s podcast since 2018 when Hamez and I started planning our 2020 Camino. Spoilers, there was no 2020 Camino for us, or most pilgrims for that matter.

I found Dan’s enthusiasm for the Camino a little addictive. I devoured episodes and listened to several episodes multiple times. The podcast was also a goldmine for tips for things such as albergue or meal locations.

Out 2019 edition of the Brierley guidebook was crammed with my handwritten notes, most derived from the podcast. Come 2022 I had to go through the guidebook page by page to transcribe these notes. We were glad, as many of those suggestions we followed. Some, sadly we couldn’t. For example, Casa Susi in Trabadelo was closed for renovations.

When Dan came into our zoom, there was his familiar voice. It was instantly calming. He was a lovely bloke, not that we expected anything different. Hamez was impressed. The time flew by and we were soon wishing each other a Buen Camino as more pilgrims and stories came to mind. We sadly had to finish up. After all, Dan does this in his spare time.

Our episode was edited and went live a few days later.

Hamez and I were both grateful for the opportunity to share our experience on the Camino. It definitely felt like another wonderful way that the Camino keeps providing.

As Molly Meldrum used to say on Countdown, do yourself a favour and give it a listen.

Buen Camino!

Wherefore Art Thou, Pilgrim?

Two screens blink and ping on the desk in front of me. A meeting has started, do I want to join? I login and a group of faces stare at me. They are arranged like the Brady Family at the start of the Brady Bunch tv show.

After some greetings, we launch into the meeting.

In a moment of distraction I look over the a bookshelf and notice my scallop shell. I’m instantly taken back to the Camino. I’m walking across one of the plateaus on the Meseta. The sky is clear and the air is cold in the mid-morning light. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Pause. Exhale. In front of me I see James, Mads and Mikael deep in conversation with an occasional outburst of laughter. My heart is still. All is well with the world. In the next hour or so we will walk into a village and have a cafe con leche and talk and laugh about life and the absurdity of being out here on the Camino. Yes, all is well.

I open my eyes and the Brady’s still stare at me. It can’t be good cognitively to have so many faces staring at you in 2 dimensions. Some days I find it exhausting. More exhausting than walking 25-30km every day?

I enjoy my work as a Lawyer as I’m naturally drawn to helping people and I’m lucky to work with a great team of people. I never walked the Camino to work out what to do with my life. I did meet a lot of pilgrims who were. Several had quit jobs or separated from partners just before starting their walk. I didn’t need or expect an epiphany when I walked into the Plaza del Obradoiro and stared up at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. But that doesn’t make the transition back into life any easier.

When James and I were at Albergue San Miguel in Hospital de Orbiga, apart from doing some excellent painting (read the blog!), I found a book – Returning From Camino by Alexander John Shaia. Even though we were still balls deep into our Camino, I picked it up and thumbed through its pages. At the time it didn’t resonate with me as I was still on Camino.

The book is a practical guide for the pilgrim returning home. It acknowledges that as a pilgrim you have changed and that those at home may not be ready or able to cope with that change.

It offers helpful hints which I won’t go into other than to say that some of it may mean burning your pilgrim clothing. This was something common amongst pilgrims of old, mainly due to the fact that in Ye Olden Days, people stank and probably had lice and bed bugs and syphilis and really needed to start their return journey with clean togs and less scratching of their nether regions.

The other day a few things happened to bring the Camino to the forefront of my mind. I received an invite from Ivar’s Camino page to do a survey about walking the Camino. Then Rob’s Camino YouTube channel did a video about how you feel at the end of the Camino. Then up popped the My Camino The Podcast with James & Leo.

Will you not let a poor pilgrim settle?

All I can say is that after being home for 3 months now, I still haven’t settled fully into daily life. Before the Camino I remember reading that once you finish you will think about the Camino every day. Bollocks, I thought.

Well guess who was wrong?

Each day I think about people and places and laughs and songs and meals and drinks and smells and . . . well, you get the idea.

My body is not entirely settled either. That fall in Roncesvalles was confirmed as a tear to my shoulder when I got home. I’ve been doing physio for the last couple of months to try to sort it out. My Achilles tendinitis has worsened, lending support to the adage – use it or lose it. Yes it was sore on the Camino, but so were all my other leg muscles. My knees also feel sore (my dog I sound like an old man).

I’m not sure if this is a hangover from the Camino, the cold weather back here in Australia, the fact I’m spending hours at a desk each day or a combination of all three. If my body could choose, it would have me walking 25-30km each day. That’s just not practical when I have other responsibilities.

One of my responsibilities- Rickie. Donnie is in the background

James has settled back into school and life pretty well. He’s playing basketball, studying (nowhere near enough!) and making music.

James doing some looping with the rig

The other issue that has taken a lot of emotional energy since we returned has been the health of my parents. Mum was taken to hospital and spent about a month there and then another month or so in respite. She got COVID whilst in recovery, leading to feelings of isolation (she didn’t get to farewell my eldest daughter Alex before she headed to Europe to study for 6 months) as well as the horrible nature of the illness itself. Dad has had chemotherapy every week since about late January and that is taking its toll on his body and mind. No child wants to see their parents suffering.

Claire and I have also been setting up a new house since I returned from Camino which has taken a huge amount of work for both of us. Thankfully we’re mostly done.

I spoke to James Sage a week or so back and he said something that really resonated – you can’t live on the Camino, you have to bring what you felt and learned there back into your normal life.

This is great advice. If I were you James, I’d have t-shirts and bumper stickers printed ASAP.

I think the things that I want to live in my everyday life that I lived on the Camino are gratitude for each day, rejoicing in my family and friends (it’s never not a good time for a hug or to laugh together), take each day at a time, let go of the idea you can control that which you can’t and live in the moment (something I struggle with) and, if in doubt, sing Hakuna Matata.

Oh, and perhaps the greatest advice ever – take what you do seriously but don’t take yourself seriously.

Also, big news for our little blog, we hit 2,000 views. Very humbled.

I’m not sure what Jetpack powered means, sounds a bit like something from the Jetsons

There is some other exciting news coming in the next few weeks too, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Take care. Ultreia & Buen Camino!

Boring Sh*t – Technical Stuff

Firstly, this blog was written each night on my iPhone as I lay in bed in albergue. So I apologise for the many spelling and grammatical errors. But hey, it keeps it real, right!

Starting at the most important piece of kit, James and I both wore Hoka trail runners. James wore Challenger ATR 6, I wore Speedgoats. James wore Macpac wool socks, I swapped between Injinji toe socks and the Macpac. He only ever tied the laces on his shoes once and he never wore them in. He had one tiny blister. Yep, one! I had two tiny blisters that I treated with compeed patches and the needle & cotton method. They were gone in about a week and I never had any more issues. I did take the advice of Rob from Rob’s Camino YouTube channel and put Vaseline on my heels.

My shoes were waterproof. In my opinion, you don’t need waterproof shoes. My feet sweated too much and my feet got hot. James had seal skin waterproof socks ready if needed. Having said that, if we had to walk day after day in rain, maybe I would be giving unreserved support and love for waterproof shoes. That’s the Camino.

These shoes were made for walking

James’s second set of footwear were slides. He had a pair that he brought from home, but he promptly lost one and so we had to buy a new pair in Pamplona. On day 2 we did see a you guy scooting along in slides and socks, though I wouldn’t want to do that for too long.

I had a pair of crocs. They are light, dry quickly and are super comfortable. The only downside was if I did get blisters, I wouldn’t be able to walk too far in them. So, what’s the alternative? Tevas seem to be a good option if you are worried about blisters with your boots/shoes and need a fallback option to keep walking. The downside of Tevas is that they take some time to dry and are quite heavy.

WARNING: The next bit may trigger some puritans!

I have Scarpa hiking boots. They are beautiful full grain leather and about the fifth pair I have owned. I wore a pair to Mt Everest Base Camp. They are great hiking boots. But, they are stiff and weigh a ton. I did well over one million steps and I am so glad I did it with super light trail runners. If I had to carry a load, say 20+kg, I would wear my Scarpas. But on the Camino you want the lightest pack you can, the rule being that it should be less than 10% of your body weight. So for me it’s a no brainer, trail runners every day. Okay, send the hate boot puritans!

As for packs, James had a Macpac that I got for him a few years back. It has a built in rain cover and was a perfect size. I had an Osprey Exodus 38 litre. It was a great pack for the walk.

For rain gear/shell we both had Macpac jackets and pants. They are great and people from the northern hemisphere who have never heard of Macpac were very impressed. We also had lightweight Macpac down jackets. Here we made an error. It was a lot colder than we thought. Down is great but once it gets wet it is useless. The solution was to buy James and I some lightweight fleece jackets. They wick sweat away from your body and they worked great. If you are planning a Camino in early spring or autumn, check the forecast before you go and pack accordingly.

Mikael and Mads wore Nordisk and Loow gear and it looked to be excellent quality gear. I’m sure we’ll buy some in the not too distant future.

We both had Macpac woollen thermals. For clothes we had 2 lightweight long sleeve shirts, a t-shirt for Albergue use, shorts and 2 pairs of long pants. The spares were in case we got wet. All in all our packing was about right.

James’s gear stash
Grant’s gear stash

James wore a Midnight Oil cap and I had a Tilley hat.

We both had Macpac woollen boxer shorts which again worked well, though mine wore through. I would probably have the wool shorts for night wear and some synthetic boxers for walking.

I took a scarf but didn’t need it.

We didn’t have any elaborate hydration gear, simply 2 x 750ml plastic water bottles. Other people had bladders which they said worked really well other than you can’t see how much water is left. I like and have used bladders, their cleanliness over 5 weeks turned me off.

Pack – check! Credencial – check!

Checking the weather before we left meant sleeping bags were essential. We both had Macpac Escapade 150 down bags. They pack small and are light and but for one or two nights, we’re used the whole way. That said, if we were walking in summer, we would probably not carry these. We also had Sea to Summit silk liners that were barely used as we were given mattress and pillow covers at almost every albergue.

Okay, now for the big question – would we have done anything differently?

Yes!

Even though it was cold, we could have easily had two pairs of lightweight long pants. We each had a second out of what I’ll call heavy long pants. I never wore mine. I think James wore his once. They are bulky and weigh 3 times as much as our Macpac Boulder pants.

James’s pack was really not made for long distance walking as the pack sat flush against his back meaning he sweated a lot. My pack had webbing that kept the pack well off my back. Next walk, James will need a different pack.

As I said above, we needed fleece from the start. There were a few days where we had to walk in wool thermal tops, down jackets and shell jackets because of the cold and the wind. Once we got a sweat up, the down jackets lost their thermal properties and made us cold. You can buy waterproof down gear, but it is crazy expensive, usually too bulky and lightweight fleece does a great job.

Other than that, I was impressed with all of our gear. I lost a few things along the way by accident and threw out my moleskin journal in favour of blogging direct to my phone.

James and Leo, our Aussie mates, cut pages from the Brierley guidebook as they went to reduce weight. I carried the whole thing the whole way, mostly to keep finding errors. I love maps and books, but if I was pushed, I’d leave the guidebook at home and use an app like Camino Ninja. It was a fantastic tool for planning and booking. You can always take photos of the guidebook maps and have them on your phone if needed.

I should say that I love the Brierley book. It is full of great tips (like Granon) and I love having something tactile to flick through and remember places.

So there it is, all the boring, technical sh*t for anyone interested and for me to read before I walk again so I don’t make the same mistakes. We adventurers (LOL) often say that there is as much joy in the planning as in the doing. Our Camino was many years in the planning and that is an enjoyable process, but there’s nothing like slinging your pack and walking out the front door knowing you won’t be returning for a while and not knowing what lies ahead. You never return as the same person who left and that is a great joy of the journey.

A Gift Bestowed – May 2022

Why walk the Camino?

It’s a good question and one that was asked many times as James and I walked across Spain.

For the many pilgrims we met along the way, there were many answers, some given freely, others only evident as the person opened up about themselves. We walked with Atheists and people of faith and none of that mattered. We were all pilgrims.

So why?

To heal. To have some space from their families and home life to revive themselves. To find yourself after being lost in the grind of life. To walk with your own personal god. To reconnect with a family member or friend. To contemplate deeply a major life decision. To drink and eat across Spain. Because it’s a cheap holiday. To find love. To confront addiction in the hope that it will be gone by the time you walk into Santiago. To lose weight. To get fit or rediscover your hidden physical strength. To regain lost confidence. To find romance. To recover from mental illness. To set a new speed record for walking across Spain.

Did all the pilgrims we met succeed? Did the Camino work miracles?

No, it didn’t. But it does work in its own mysterious way. We saw fellow pilgrims change over the 800km. Several even openly discussed their struggles and how they knew in themselves that they were in a better place having walked across Spain. They were having conversations thought impossible before they came to Spain.

There’s a saying that your true Camino begins when you leave Santiago.

James and I are home now. We flew from Madrid to Dubai, Dubai to Sydney on 12 and 13 May 2022. It’s wonderful to be back amongst our family and loved ones. But it’s also strange. We have lived in an extraordinary way for six weeks. Now we sleep in the same bed every night. We return to school and work. We don’t walk 25km every day, experiencing new people, languages, landscapes and places. It’s not going to be easy. But we know that we are pilgrims and that our Camino continues.

We have but this one precious life, these precious moments to savour.

So what about us? Why did we walk the Camino?

I thought I knew why before we left, but now I know a few more reasons.

To share the Camino with my son, James who I love dearly. He left Australia a boy and returned a man.

To have James call me to adventure when I was exhausted on the first day and walk in the snow, not on the road, to Roncesvalles.

To walk across Spain with the sun forever at your back.

To lose 7kg, a goodly chunk of my gut and to feel strong and fit.

To meet pilgrims who live only 150m from James in St James Road and share some wonderful experiences with them.

To share pilgrim dinners with extraordinary people.

To walk as the sun rises behind you and deer run across your path.

To walk and sing and laugh and cry with brothers and see their familial bond strengthen.

To spontaneously sing made up songs from Santo Domingo The Musical (c)

To sit in candlelight in an ancient church as pilgrims spoke from their hearts and tears were shed.

To meet Australian pilgrims on the side of the road out of Carrion and then share so many precious memories with them.

To be christened as a Camino Uncle.

For James and I to walk into a random pinchos bar in Pamplona and meet a fabulous English couple.

To join with our pilgrim family at the mass in Santiago.

To listen to fellow pilgrims when they really just needed someone to talk to about their lives.

To hear incredibly funny, but lewd (cannot be repeated here) jokes from a Canadian pilgrim. Call me and I’ll tell you his one about a hunter who’s gun keeps failing as they try to shoot a bear.

So, if you are contemplating walking a Camino, go with an open heart and an open mind. Be vulnerable. Be ready to laugh and cry and accept both with gratitude. Have humility and always say hola to the local Spaniards. We were never once ignored and I lost track of the number of times that we were given a big smile and a joyful, “buen Camino!” in reply.

As Uncle Pete says, “at the end of the day, there is only love.”

The true gift bestowed upon the pilgrim who is open to it is love.

Madrid Peregrinó – 8 – 12 May 2022

James and I arrived in Madrid on a hot May evening. Our hotel, Praga, was just south of the Rio Manzanares. For miles in either direction, the banks of the river were finely landscaped. Kids rode bikes. People were rollerblading. Lovers walked hand in hand. Dogs played, chasing soccer balls or play fighting. The city was alive!

One of many pedestrian bridges over the river
The beautifully landscaped riverside parklands

James was quick to spot the electro scooters that were able to be hired. We jumped on and headed into the traffic of Madrid.

After walking every day for 5 weeks, it was exhilarating to smoothly zap around the city. As James said at one point, “walking is for losers.”

What we quickly learn is that Madrid is a city of parks, amazing parks. We discover the Parque de El Retiró with its palaces, grand boulevards and lake full of row boats.

Mad dogs and Spaniards go rowing in the midday sun
Palacio de Cristal

James indulges in some shopping. Apparently workwear is a thing amongst the young folk. James is very excited at Carhartt, which is basically King Gee modelled by cool people with piercings and tats.

We keep scooting around the city. At times we walk. We were still wracking up days where we walked well over 10km. You can take the pilgrim off the Camino, but you can’t take the Camino out of the pilgrim.

It was hot, high 20’s. We enjoyed cold beer, Mexican food, quiet mornings and crazy busy evenings. Madrid is a great city, very easy to get around and enjoy.

The Royal Palace
The view over the enormous Casa de Campo parklands from the palace forecourt

One morning we scoot and walk along the river to the Casa de Campo. James had looked online and saw that it had a gondola. Cue the James Bond theme. Yes, a gondola. We had to have a ride.

The Casa de Campo is an enormous parkland right next to the heart of the city. It has lakes, bars, restaurants, an aquarium, a theme park, hundreds of kilometres of tracks and trails.

All this just minutes from the city centre
Crossing the river

The city was busy. As we walked around we noticed many different languages and accents. People rode hire electric bikes, scooters and electric Vespa type scooters that are also available for hire.

From 2:00 until around 5:00, many businesses close for siesta. Some days James and I would find a cool place in the shade in one of the many parks and just chill out for an hour or so. Even with all the parks, grand buildings and boulevards, Madrid is still adding to or upgrading its open space. The roads around the palace are largely closed to traffic as are many other roads around the city. There are many tunnels under the city. Sometimes you would be walking in a park and a car would appear from a grass mound. The tunnel entrances and exits were so well landscaped, they blend in with the parkland.

The monument to Cervantes, a sculpture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. The square is being upgraded with new landscaping and public buildings

There was one place that I was intrigued to visit, Las Ventas, Madrid’s famous bullring that was opened in 1931. I won’t weigh into the debate about whether bullfighting should continue or not. All I will say is that it is woven into the fabric of Spanish culture. James and I saw bullrings in Pamplona and Sahagun whilst on the Camino.

I was a little shocked to learn that we were in Madrid at the start of a full month of bullfights. I did check, all fights were sold out.

Hemingway had this to say about bullfighting – Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour.

Las Ventas
Preparing the ring for this evening’s fights
The bulls aren’t tall, but they are incredibly powerful, weighing in at over 500kg

From our tour, it is clear that there is still an intense pride and love of bullfighting. But there are also those that see this as barbaric and antiquated and out of step with modern Spanish culture.

We visited the museum where there were portraits of many of the the great matadors, both men and women. These included many of Goya’s series of etchings on bullfighting that he prepared and sold in central Madrid over 180 years ago. There were also many outfits.

James noted that many of the matadors honoured in the museum were killed by bulls, very sobering.

From Las Ventas we scooted through busy and highly dangerous city traffic back into the city centre for one last time. Hey, I had to add a sense of drama after visiting the bullring!

Alcalá Gate

Our time in Madrid and in Spain was coming to an end. What a great city. What a great country.

Our Second Last Post? 7 May 2022

Thursday was such a big day for us, not only in terms of the amount of walking, but also emotionally. It was the culmination of a lot of dreaming, a lot of planning, a lot of travel, a lot of walking and a lot of sweat. But it was also emotional as we shared the day with some of our Camino family. As James as I walked arm in arm back to our hotel that night with the Cathedral softly glowing in the background, we both knew it had been a special day.

We closed the shutters on our room at the Altair Hotel so that we could sleep in and not be woken by the sun. Breakfast was booked for 9:00 and we didn’t intend to be early.

After a great breakfast that included coffee, toasted croissant with real fruit jam, cereals and yoghurt, we headed out into the streets of Santiago. We had arranged to meet James and Leo to help the latter choose a guitar. A few potential stores were identified and we got walking. The first store mainly had classical guitars made in Spain by Alhambra. There were some beautiful instruments. Leo liked a couple but wasn’t really sold on any. As we left I saw a more modern style in the window. We had another store to visit so I parked that in my memory. I also saw this lovely instrument, known as a bandurria.

Local bands play these, but I’ll get to that later

Next we visited a store that was almost exclusively electric guitars, with the exception of a small number of steel string acoustics. It was amazing!

James and Leo admiring the wall of awesomeness
A photo taken by James of me worshiping at the alter of guitar pedals

It was too much. So we headed back to the store with the classical guitars. I asked the owner if we could try the more modern cutaway style. We could tell that as soon as Leo played it, this was the one. Even though he had been unwell, he wore a huge smile as he played.

James, James and I headed to KFC for lunch. Not much more to be said here. Then James and I went for a stroll around part of the city and James got to test drive (in his mind) a Cupra.

I think he liked it

Then we headed back for a rest. We had arranged to meet Anthony and Simone, Marios, Dazza, James and Leo for drinks before going to the 7:30 service in the Cathedral. In the end we had to slam our drinks down as we were told to be at the Cathedral at 7:00 or risk not getting a spot. We’re pilgrims and this was a service for us, so we duly obliged and hammered our drinks.

The Cathedral is quite beautiful. James and Leo told us that it was closed and the front was covered in scaffolding when they last walked the Camino 3 years ago. This was going to be a special evening for everyone.

On the way in, we paid tribute to what is said to be the remains of Saint James. Do I weigh into the debate about its authenticity? Nah, all good. Call me if you want my opinion.

Grant, James, Leo, James, Dazza, Simone, Regina, Anthony, Paul and Marios waiting patiently for the pilgrim’s mass

The service began with some lovely singing by a nun. Then there was some organ music. Then there were tributes to the awesome work of the pilgrims from around the world. Then the crowd grew anxious. Would the botafumeiro swing this evening?

Pilgrims glanced at their watches and phones, noting that the end of the service was fast approaching. A bloke started collecting cash. The organ began to play once more.

“Maybe not this evening,” we said to each other forlornly.

Then suddenly there was action at the rope. A group of men were standing by. Another group had what looked to be ash. A wave of excitement raced through the gathering. The botafumeiro would swing this night.

Our Camino family turned to each other and fist pumped.

It was a sight to behold. In the beautiful, warm evening light, the silver botafumeiro swung, spreading its smoke around like a cloud of joy.

We all agreed that this was a perfect way to end our Camino. The circle was complete. We had resolution. Or did we?

All we could do was to find a restaurant, eat paella, drink Rioja and reminisce about what a great experience this had been. We shared a lovely meal with some of our Camino family – James and Leo, Marios and Dazza and Karin from France and Alex from The Netherlands. The latter were a couple who met on the Camino.

Two absolute legends, Marios (aka Ed Sheeran) and Dazza

After dinner, we hugged, said our goodbyes and then took our first steps back into our lives as non-pilgrims.

On the way back through the Cathedral square, James and I heard music and singing and laughter. A local band was playing so we joined the crowd of joyful pilgrims.

Band, complete with bandurria player, wowing the crowd

It was the perfect end to a perfect day in Santiago. But tomorrow held the promise of more Camino magic.

At the start of our Camino, we shared our first pilgrim meal with 5 other pilgrims. Of these, we had the great pleasure of becoming Camino family with 4.

Our first pilgrim meal in Roncesvalles on 3 April 2022 – Grant, Karin, Mads, Mikael, our Italian friend, Dazza and James

If only we knew back then the experiences we would share. But would we all meet in Santiago de Compostela? Would we perfect yet another circle?

You know from above that we met our English brother Dazza.

From our previous blog these guys need no introduction.

Looking hairier and more tanned, it’s Mads and Mikael

But what of Karin, our Dutch Camino veteran and dear friend?

The circle is complete

James and I waited in the square patiently as we knew Karin was arriving. On a glorious morning, our friend arrived. We hugged and then shared a coffee and stories.

As we sat, James wondered about our other friend, Evalina from Estonia. This is so weird, but who should walk by?

It’s Evalina and her partner

As is the way of the way, we had to once more say goodbye. We have shared so many wonderful times with these lovely people.

James and I had a train to catch. We met James and Leo for a last coffee, two Aussie dads with their sons sharing this time. It has been such a privilege to meet and walk with these two. It seemed appropriate that we would share our last coffee in Santiago with them. We’ll miss them but I look forward to hearing Leo’s song that he is writing on his new guitar. I also love that he called his new guitar Grant (joking Leo!). We’ll miss you guys.

They too have a blog from their first walk that I previously shared a link to. James is writing a blog for the current trip and I will share the link. They are also fundraising and I will share that link also.

Leaving on a fast train

So, there it is, our time as pilgrims on the Camino is over. Our time as pilgrims on our Camino goes on. Buen Camino!

Santiago de Compostela – 5 May 2022

A piper played a crazy, frenetic song as we made our way under the arch and into the cathedral square. There, after 800km and 33 days, was Santiago’s Cathedral. James and I high fived and hugged. We had arrived.

At the moment it’s hard to process what we have experienced. That can wait for a longer post in the next day or so. For now all I can say is that it has been a joy to spend this time with James. We never fought or had cross words, even though there were many days when this was very difficult for him, me or both of us. He accepted the adventure with an amazing attitude that everyone we have met has acknowledged. It has meant that we have made friends that we will remember for life.

Speaking of which, our Camino family has many members. Some had to leave early and head home. Others we met and they either went ahead or we did, though they remain in our thoughts and hearts.

For now, here are some photos of our last day as pilgrims. Our last day on the Camino.

Second coffees amongst the beer bottles
The oak forest
The eucalyptus forest. We spent a lot of time in these, so much so the last few days felt very Australian. Note the absence of pilgrims.
10km to go!
Overlooking Santiago with a couple of taller peregrinó
Are we there yet?
The piper welcoming us to the Cathedral
James, Compostela in hand
We did it, well either that or we fooled the pilgrims office into giving us Compostela
Gratuitous shot of our very nice hotel, we felt a little out of place
Our Camino brothers, Mads and Mikael. They made this journey so special for us.
Celebration and farewell dinner – James, Mads, James, Mikael, Leo & Grant
The square at night
The Cathedral

So there you have it, our final day on the Camino. More details will follow I’m sure. Oh, one last thing.

The last day!