The Way of St. James, or the Camino de Santiago, extends from all corners of Europe, and even North Africa on its way to Santiago de Compostela. Today on October 26, 2013 I completed the Camino Frances, or the French route of the Camino de Santiago, which I began in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ended in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I walked a total of 783 kilometers (487 miles) in unpredictable weather, from hot to cold, from dry to wet, up and down hills and mountains, on rocks, stones, asphalt, dirt, mud, with corns and blisters on my feet and toes; sleeping in rooms smelling of sweat occupied with at times up to 40 people on bunk beds sharing two or three toilets (gender neutral) and one or two showers (warm to cold water), and at least 3 or 4 sleeping beauties snoring so loudly that the beds shook. Sounds like a nightmare. Actually, it was the greatest experience of my life, and a dream come true.
I arrived in the rain, checked into a luxury hotel (luxury meaning a bed without a sleeping bag, my own toilet, and a HOT shower), changed out of wet clothes to attend Mass at the Cathedral of St. James, pay my respects at St. James´s tomb, hug the giant statue of St. James above and behind the main altar, and then searched for friends I had met along the way.
My arrival at the Cathedral de Santiago in the rain:
After a shower and wearing dry clothes, after Mass:
I went to the Pilgrims Office to present my Credencial with my 43 stamps, and receive my final stamp of Santiago,
and my Compostela in Latin, with my name written in Latin – Iacobum Angelim Simone – a thrilling and awesome moment in my life that I will never forget.
More posts and photos tomorrow of the glorious day and festive evening of October 26th.