And we got a good typical Spanish send off from Fisterre. About 5 am, in the heart of town, a rooster started to crow. So fitting! The day after we had hit the end of the trail at Finnesterre, we boarded the bus about 9:45 am for a ride back to Santiago. There were three buses, the typical Greyhound style, in Fisterre just to take pilgrims back to Santiago. We managed to all four get on the first bus and it was an excellent ride. With the tight corners and narrow streets, the buses were fitted with rear axles that would steer as well, allowing the bus to make sharp corners. The only disappointment for us was that we were getting back to Santiago too late to attend the mass at the Cathedral. We arrived at the central bus station and grabbed a cab to the same hotel we had stayed in six days earlier. And the same desk clerk who had helped us before was on duty again. He took great care of us even though we could not check in yet. We sat in the bar/restaurant and played some cards, ate a bit, and then checked up on the forest fires south of Santiago. As the afternoon progressed and we were ready to check into our rooms, I emptied my pocket of all change (and there was quite a bit) and left everything less than a one euro coin as a tip. It is not customary to tip in Spain for some reason. The others followed suit, we left a good size bowl of change as a tip, and we checked into our rooms. We came back down later for supper and the bartender came over and brought us all kinds of treats. We later had supper and headed to bed early.
THE FINAL DAY!
We had a very long day of travel all the way from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid to Chicago to Fargo, and then to Fergus Falls for me. Kathy and Terry are driving home from Fargo on Tuesday, Oct. 17th and Vince got on the train to Whitefish, MT in Fargo about 5 hours after we landed there. Our day began by waking up at 3 am and catching a cab to the airport. There were just a few things on our mind. First of all there were forest fires about 45 miles south of Santiago de Compostela and ash was dropping on the city. We didn’t know if this would affect the flights. Second, a hurricane has just crossed the Atlantic Ocean headed toward Spain and then veered north toward Ireland and the UK. We were crossing the Atlantic on the tails of this storm. We got to Madrid fine, and boarded our 9+ hour flight to Chicago after some uncertainty. Both Kathy and Vince got pulled aside and taken to a special room. We didn’t know what was going on. It turns out that it was just a random security check thing, indicated by a special number on your ticket. Okay, time to board.
With 7 hours of time change we landed in Chicago just 2+ hours after we took off from Madrid. Vince accidentally left his IPAD on the Iberia Airlines plane and discovered that after we had cleared US customs, picked up our baggage and then re-checked it, moved to another terminal, and gone back through the security checkpoint for our flight to Fargo. After some scrambling around trying to figure out who to talk to, they had found the IPAD on the plane, looked in the case, and Vince had left his boarding pass in there. They called and then a woman brought the IPAD over to the security point in the terminal we were at. We thought Iberia did an excellent job with their flights and good airplanes, and this just topped it off. However, Vince was the lucky winner again. A random number on his boarding pass for the flight to Fargo meant he had to go through an extended security check again. We had a good flight to Fargo and landed pretty much on time. By the time I got home it had been about a 28 hour day.
I wore my Fitbit for the entire journey. 1,318,450 steps from the day we left Fargo to arriving back home in Fergus Falls. Each night when I went to bed I would check the Fitbit for total steps that day. The peak was 39,931 in one day. I thought that I should get up and do another 69 steps so that I could have a 40,000 step day. It didn’t happen.
It is going to take some time for the entire journey to sink in. The guide book clearly did not give enough information to get a real sense of how difficult and demanding hiking the Camino de Santiago really is. We talked about whether any of us would have tried this if we had truly known the difficulty and the answer was likely no. But, we did try it and succeeded. We also talked about whether any of us would do the Camino again. Vince said yes, the rest of us said no. (Additional Post: Within two weeks of being home I changed my mind. I would do the Camino again and do the same route. There is so much that I missed the first time.)
Many thanks to all for the prayers, words of encouragement, and support. What incredible memories we have. Who knew what we were getting into when Vince said “I have to do that” after seeing the movie “The Way.”
And many many thanks to all of the wonderful pilgrims we met, their support and helpfulness, willingness to share physically and verbally, and to the many monasteries, albergues, hostels, hotels, and bar/restaurants for their hospitality. It is simply impossible to put into words how much all of these meant to the experience. And we now have friends from around the world.
Here are pictures of the pilgrims from the day we left Fargo and the day we returned to Fargo.