The end of the pilgrim trail (apparently more than half a million pilgrims a year were visiting even 1,000 years ago!), we thought we should at least make the effort to drive 100km to take a look. 100km being significant, as this is the minimum you need to walk to receive a compostela (certificate of pilgrimage).
We were also encouraged by Lonely Planet, which reports that “Uniquely, Santiago is a city that’s at its best in the rain”, surely a claim worth testing!
As it was, it stayed dry, so maybe we didn’t see it at its best. There were certainly plenty of tired looking folks with huge rucksacks, walking poles and colourful rain wear, and a lot of them looked to have come a lot further than the minimum – we met a couple of Americans who’d walked from Porto.
The final rite of the arriving pilgrims is to embrace the statue of St James (Santiago) in the cathedral where he is, according to legend, buried.
You’ve got to admire the perseverance and faith of those who make this trek, especially those arriving from afar, but I have to say we weren’t overwhelmed by SdC as a destination – probably a case of the journey being more important, and maybe not enough rain….