So what do you do for Act 2 when Act 1 involved climbing over the Pyrenees that divide France and Spain and walking 90% of the width of Spain?
Well, you collect your compostela and make your way to the cathedral – hopefully on a day when they swing the botafumeiro. Then you spend a few days relaxing in Santiago and you reflect on what you have just done and how it has impacted you. You’ll probably drink some wine and eat some tapas and you might even stand under a hot shower for 30 minutes while your clothes go through the “Super Wash” cycle with triple detergent. Then you head to the airport and fly home. Camino completo. Just 50 weeks until next year’s vacation.
At least that’s the plan for about 90% of the 150,000 or more pilgrims who complete some portion of the Camino Frances each year. The other 10% follow the yellow arrows through town and walk another 89 km to Finisterre.
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it. I learned in Mr. Waite’s Grade 9 Geography class that Cabo da Roca in Portugal is the westernmost point of continental Europe, but in pre-Roman times it was thought that the Galician town of Finisterre (Fistera) was the end of the world. Lands end. Finis-terre.
These days less than 10% of the pilgrims who walk the Camino Frances actually continue on to Finisterre.
I am meeting friends from Toronto in Lisbon on Sunday, June 5 so I have a full week to kill. I could hang around Santiago and eat tapas and drink wine or I could scrape the mud off my boots and start walking. What to do?
I waited until I had been in Santiago for two days before making the decision to keep walking.
Some day I will drive from Montreal to Cape Spear, Newfoundland, and within the next year or two I hope to take a bus, train or truck between Paris and Istanbul. When both of those trips are ticked off the bucket list I’ll be able say that I have circumnavigated the world on land. Add in a trans-Atlantic cruise and a freighter from Vancouver to China and it’s full circle on land and water. But right now the focus is on completing the last 89 km from Santiago to the Atlantic coast.
I’ll post Trip Notes over the next few days and once I reach Finisterre I’ll write up my account of Saturday, May 28 – Saturday #100. But right now it’s time to hit the road.