Portuguese Camino 16 // D 12 / Padron to Santiago de Compostela `

(this has been posted the morning after, because of slow internet speeds last night…) 

Today we walked into Santiago de Compostela –
We completed our walk.
Some 260 kms in twelve days.
And the relief, and sense of achievement for our group, was huge!

Bart in square-1

Bart arriving in Cathedral square

It was a particularly pleasing achievement for Marilyn Workman and Stella Kinniburgh – both women in their 70s who found it tough going these past few days. Today on the last day’s walk there were many hills that women half their age would have struggled up.

Marilyn & Laurie in square-1

Marilyn and her sister Laurie

Alistair and Stella in square-1

Alistair and Stella

But they made it, and they each now have their Compostela – their certificate of completion of the Camino.

Laurie Hilsgen too completed the walk, with huge blisters which for the past several days have caused her constant pain.

Laurie arriving in square-1

Laurie arriving in square

It’s stories like these, of people overcoming pain and adversity, which to me symbolise the power and mystique of the Camino.

It was a long day’s walk today – about 22kms – under overcast skies with a slight drizzle. Perfect walking weather.

Here’s Ruth powering through her last day. I remember on the first day, she was so anxious as to whether she would make it. She has been of the major success stories of this tour. (There have been many!) But just look at the radiance in her face.

Ruth on track last day-1

Ruth on last day

Alistair, Stella and Ruth left early – about 7am – so that they could take it easy, take photos, and enjoy the last day of the walk. It meant that those who left later, and walked faster, caught them up towards the tail end of the day, which was perfect – as we all wanted to walk into Santiago as a group.

Jennifer meanwhile took Jan and Vivienne back to Padron, so they could climb those steps and see St. James’ preaching spot. They said later that it had been well worth doing, and a highlight of the trip for them.

I walked out front with Ian a good deal of today – and we kept a swift pace. We talked and i learned more about this extraordinary man, who with his wife have devoted their lives to the upbringing of their handicapped son.

Ian walking last day-1

Ian on last day

Ian to me epitomises the ANZAC spirit – strong in character, loyal, dutiful yet compassionate. And he also epitomises the Kiwi spirit too – honest, solid, no BS, totally reliable… In other words he’s a good bloke – except he tells too many jokes about underarm bowling for my taste… 🙂

(For those of you in other countries who don’t follow cricket, here is a Wikipedia link to what’s been described as “the darkest day in cricket history,” involving a game between Australia and New Zealand in 1981.)


Today’s walk with Ian might have been a bit too swift for me because halfway my knee started to pain me in disturbing ways – like shards of glass digging into the kneecap.

We came across Alistair and Stella, who had set off early and were taking their time, taking  photos. They are both wonderful photographers – former professionals – and even with their iPhones they can produce stunning images.

(yes, I know Steve…)

Here they are with Jennifer walking into Santiago –

Stella and Alistair and Jen in Santiago-1

Stella, Alistair and Jennifer talking Weird & Whacky

Even though they are High Anglicans, Stella and Alistair have Weird and Whacky tendencies. That’s why they enjoy hanging out with Jennifer.

By Camino Frances standards this Portuguese Camino is a short walk – about a third of the Frances – yet it’s no less demanding and no less an achievement. Have a look at the faces of father and daughter Bart and Merissa to see that sense of achievement…

Bart & Marissa in square-1

Bart with his daughter Merissa in square

We then made our way to the Pilgrim’s Office to get our Compostelas,

Ian with compoostela-1

Ian with Compostela

Just one day more, a ceremony at sunset on Cape Finisterre, then we sadly have to say goodbye to these amazing people…

group with compoostelas-1

L-R: Ian, Jennifer, Vivienne, Jan, Alistair, Ruth, Neville

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