Day 33 – Lavacolla to Santiago de Compostella 


After 33 days of up hills, down hills, up mountains, down mountains across mesetas, through towns, through hamlets, meeting a huge array of multi national people, talking, laughing, drinking, eating, sharing stories and memories that will be imprinted in my brain and heart forever – 799kms across Spain from France.  I am here and this is myself and Pierre with out Compostella de Santiago. 

I entered Santiago this morning around 10am. Followed all the pilgrims into town and then through the narrow streets to the cathedral cane around the corner saw it and immediately burst into tears.  A very emotional day and as I sit here and blog a tear still comes to my eye.  

So today started almost exactly as my journey from France started.  When I left st Jean Pied de Port it was raining and very overcast and cloudy.

I woke up this morning and it was a total whiteout with cloud.  Thick soup.  Set off from Lavacolla and as I was in no rush stopped at the first cafe for cafe con leche, Zumo de naranjo and croissant. Then along came Julie and Michelle and Arvis. 

After our breakfast we all wandered off down a very foggy misty road. 

Arvis and I were chatting for a while and we came upon Monte de Gozo which is a big monument at the top of the hill overlooking Santiago. The pope visited there in 1996 so this massive construction was made.  Well we could hardly see it for the fog let alone look out over Santiago. 

We walked on and it didn’t take long for the city to appear.  I am pleased to say that walking into Santiago was a lot easier than a lot of the big cities I have walked into over the last 5 weeks. 

I just followed the pilgrims and there were a lot but not as many as I had expected.  Got into town about 10.30 and walked to the cathedral which is the finish of the Camino.  

I came around the corner and saw the cathedral and just burst into tears.  I couldn’t help it.  It was so emotional.  

I turned around and there was a very beautiful Spanish man who I had met over the last week and he came up and I burst into tears and he gave me the biggest hug and held my hand until I had calmed down.  He then gave me a kiss on both cheeks and we parted ways.  He is getting the bus to Finesterre on Sunday also. 

Friday the 13th was a good day for me.  Ran into Anna and Leonard on my way to my hostel to dump my bag and had another cry with them. Checked into my hostel and oh what luxury. I have my own bed in my own room with my own bathroom. 

Checked into my hostel and after getting the key and leaving my bag headed back to the cathedral. 

Everyday at 12.00pm they have a pilgrims mass.  Of course the crowds are huge and when I found the door to get in the queue was huge but there in the queue almost ready to go in was my lovely friend Ralph from Germany.  We said hello and I just joined him in the queue so went in quite quickly.  When I got in I walked around to look at the altar and OMG!  The lights were on in anticipation of the mass and even though there was scaffolding as there is a lot of renovations happening both inside and out it was still amazing 

I found a spot as it was very crowded with tourists and pilgrims. The mass didn’t start until 12 and I was in the cathedral by 11.20 so just had to stand around but had a great spot. 

The mass began with all the priests coming out

Then it all started in Spanish but I could understand that it was all about the pilgrims and he mentioned all the nationalities that walk the Camino and Australia was mentioned. Then a pilgrim got up and said something in Spanish and there was a choir and the organ was amazing
Then there was communion which I took part in, crying I might add, and then the piece to resistance what everyone had been talking the Botafumeiro.  A ‘Botafumeiro’ has been used since the Middle Ages, originally to clean the air when crowds of pilgrims having completed the Camino de Santiago arrived in Santiago de Compostela after their long journey. The Codex Calixtinus, the first Camino de Santiago ‘guide-book’, refers to the ‘Botafumeiro’ as Turibulum Magnum, which means this ritual has been taking place at least since the 12th century. The current ‘Botafumeiro’ dates back to 1851 and it’s made of silver-plated brass, weighting 53kgs when empty and up to 10 kgs more when full.

Eight men, called ‘tiraboleiros’, are required to operate the ‘Botafumeiro’. After being filled with incense and coal by the ‘tiraboleiros’, the 1,5mtr-high ‘Botafumeiro’ is tied to a rope hanging by the altar and set in motion with great precision, forming an impressive 65-metre long arched trajectory along the cathedral. In only a minute and a half, the ‘Botafumeiro’ reaches 68km per hour.

It was amazing.  


By the end of all that I was truly awestruck by it all.  Went for an hour and I had been standing up all that time.  If I had been walking not a problem but just standing I had to find a place to sit or get walking.  

Thought t would try the Compostella office where you get your certificate for walking 799kms.  Well got there and the queue was ridiculous and there was Pierre and they had been standing in the queue for an hour and were about to go in so I joined them in the queue and we were out in about 15 minutes.  I think it was my lucky day.  

Decided we needed to celebrate so we found a wonderful bar in the plaza outside the cathedral and were joined by about 4 other pilgrims and we celebrated, laughed, reminisced and just all pretty pleased with ourselves for making it.  

I thought I would then go to the post office to pick up my package I had posted from St Jean and guess what! It wasn’t there.  They had sent it back to France however had no idea where it had gone in France!   Great.  

But in my new found peace and tranquillity I thought I will worry about it tomorrow and went back and joined my friends for dinner and relaxation 

Had a wonderful dinner.  Santiago is so alive, it was Friday night and everyone was out.  No one eats in Europe/Spain until at least 9-10pm so the streets were packed with people and of course we kept running into more pilgrims we had met on the way. 

I am now tucked up in my bed in real sheets and had a lovely shower with towels and bath mats.  Oh the simple things. 

Wifi is terrible and it is very late so not too many photos today.  

Heaving a day wandering around Santiago tomorrow and trying to find my parcel.

Buenos noches me Amigos from the end of my journey but not the blog. 

Author: Baguettes cheese and wine

Cycling through Brittany and the Loire valley in June

16 thoughts on “Day 33 – Lavacolla to Santiago de Compostella ”

  1. God Mags I am crying just reading this. What a fantastic achievement and as you say a lifetime of memories. Loved “travelling”with you. Thank you.


  2. Maggie – what a wonderful achievement congratulations 🥂🥂🥂🎉🌹 I have just loved reading your blog. I feel I have been there with you. Loved the photos. You sound so happy 😀 take care and now look back over this achievement. Love 💕 Phil 🤗🤗


  3. You did it!!!! Felicitaciones Maggie!!! Well done. Now take your time to rest and enjoy all the delicious tapas in Santiago. I also recommend to eat “Tarta de Santiago”. I am so happy with your achievement!! Buenas noches y que descanses guapa! 😘


  4. Thank you, Maggie, it’s been a privilege to share this with you, but this wonderful achievement is all yours and I can understand how emotional you are. Enjoy the moment, love Gaynor and Roger xxoo


  5. Oh, Mags….what an amazing, wonderful journey of a lifetime you have given yourself and thank you so much for taking me along with you. You have earned your tears of joy xx


  6. Oh Maggie what a wonderful emotion to share with you, I am crying while reading your blog this morning so proud of you and so happy you have shared your journey one I will never forget. See you in Singapore soon can’t wait!


  7. Maggie, Santiago de Compostello is a lovely town and I’ve never seen a Cathedral quite like this one and the mass, crystal clear singing of one nun and the swinging botafumeiro is truly something to behold. Very special. I couldn’t go on to Finistere but wanted to. Your blog has touched us all.


  8. Congratulations! It’s been brilliant following your journey! Thank you 😃 for sharing each day. What a fabulous achievement!!


  9. Have just spent a lazy Sunday morning enjoying your fabulous pics and words. Feel like I have had a holiday just reading it. Congratulations on finishing the walk. Can’t wait to hear more when you return. Safe travels, Paul


  10. Maggie congrats, what an absolute champion you are. I never doubted that you’d make it to the end. I’m really going to miss your daily updates along the way. Enjoy London. Xx


  11. Oh mags you are just an inspiration! Mum and dad have read your blog every day, with Mum truly shedding tears when you reached the cathedral. I have just finished reading it this morning, and now I too am crying! What an experience and thank you for sharing it with us so well. God bless 🙏 x and now celebrate – I can’t wait to keep reading, so please keep the blogging coming!


  12. Hi Maggie ,Congratulations on your wonderful achievement you have done amazingly !
    Jo shared your blog with me , hope you don’t mind as I have so enjoyed reading it everyday and you write so well I felt like I was right there walking with you without the sore legs of course ! You must be so proud of yourself right now ! You have so many wonderful memories with all the beautiful people and places along the way, such a special journey that will stay with you forever along with the personal journey ! Look forward to reading whats to come sending love & hugs Deb xxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: