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Day 26 Arzua – Santiago de Compostela 41km

I leave Arzua bright and early, unbelievably excited. The day is pretty much a blur. I see early morning Spaniards breakfasting in the first few towns, drinking beer and wine at 9am. I see road markers every kilometre, which is really helpful: “20km to Santiago”. But, they disappear about 15km out of the city, and I've grown accustomed to them being there so I'm left thinking 'hold on, I'm sure I've walked more than a kilometre.' I hike the whole morning in humid mist and rain. I look out over the valleys to low lying cloud that hovers like a thick cream. The route today is fairly hilly, with more eucalyptus forests which I find out are a relic of Franco's era. They were planted to help reforest damaged areas but ended up killing the natural flora. The highlight of my day is passing a talking billboard that recommends an albergue in Santiago, it's near the cathedral and is apparently “the best place to stay in Santiago.” The talking billboard then translates this message into 10 different languages. Great.

Suddenly, I'm here. I'm in Santiago. The feeling is unreal, I don't really know what to think. I'm walking along choosing an albergue and it's all about to end. I shower, nap, and find a cute bar for a vino tinto with free tapas. I meet a friend in front of the Cathedral at 8pm and we smile and laugh and take photographs. I swing by the pilgrim office and pick up my compostela, which is a little piece of paper that says I've just completed the Camino. Wow. What a day, 40km, I'm exhausted and happy and so proud. Santiago is a really cool city, with Galecian music blazing from the buskers and bars – it sounds really Irish and was heavily influenced by the Celtic people. Don't stay in the same albergue I'm in. It's 12 Euros and the man running it has far too many rules about shoes and bedspreads and showers and lights! There is a much better one across the road and down the steps called Aquarius. Oh my god, I'm here! I'm in Santiago.

I spend the next few hours at Aquarius getting drunk with friends. It's a super cool hippie-ish albergue with a friendly atmosphere and good showers. There are a lot of steps leading down to it, which puts everybody off staying here, but it's worth it. It's a great place to chill and talk to pilgrims. We end up drinking wine from plastic soda bottles pre-mixed with lemonade. Stylish. We celebrate by covering each other with a bottle of children's sunscreen, which is fun and I leave for Finisterre the next day smelling fantastic.

Posted by CharliePepper 10:06 Archived in Spain Tagged friends spain fun santiago hike de camino pamplona roncesvalles albergues refugios saint-jean pied-de-port

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