Arrival to Santiago

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The walking yesterday from Arzua to Santiago reminded me a little of when I walked into Geneva, Switzerland; I hadn’t planned on arriving to Geneva on the same day either but it increasingly made sense to do so as I neared the city. Yesterday I arrived to Santiago in the late afternoon, after walking approx 40km under a cloudy sky and through a hilly and mostly woodland path.

In this region btw there are many eucalyptus trees and they are apparently a mini environmental disaster for other wannabe vegetation:


The aroma of the trees though as you walk through is wonderfully intoxicating.

Not long to go:



As you approach Santiago you pass this Knights Templar figure to remind all that at one time – after the knights were persecuted almost to extinction – they were responsible for the watching over pilgrims on the way, protecting pilgrims from the banditos which frequented the route:


This old lady caught my eye as I hobbled the last kilometre into the historical section of Santiago:


The plan was then to find a good spot to play my guitar and earn some money.
I thought Santiago would be the holy grail for busking; after all, it is THE pilgrim town and it made perfect sense that it would also be a pilgrim-friendly town.
How wrong I was 🙂

I set up shop on a busy shopping street but only got a 20 cent drop from a couple of students who then asked me to play some Pearl Jam or Nirvana. I obliged with a Nirvana song which I hardly know how to play well and then decided to head into the heart of the town where I was sure I would have more luck. I set up shop again a few steps from the cathedral and within 5 minutes was told to move on by the police; it isn’t allowed to busk in Santiago. I felt my Santiago busking golden dawn suddenly come crashing down.

It might have been a complete disaster if I hadn’t felt a tug on my rucksack as I was making my way out of the town; turning round I was very pleasantly surprised to see Alex and we ended up going out for the evening and having another wonderful time together.

This morning I queued up for my certificate of completion of the Camino to Santiago (Compostela) and was impressed to some extent with the certificate detail and format:


Santiago is a bit of a shock to the system.
It’s a big town.
It’s expensive.
It doesn’t feel so pilgrim-friendly; you can’t enter the cathedral with your rucksack – definitely not with a guitar – everything seems to be at cost here in Santiago.
If you plan to walk the Camino then my advice is not to have Santiago as your final resting place of your walk.
It’s a busy town and it feels to me that the pilgrims are considered a bit of a nuisance; even though there are countless stalls and shops selling pilgrim-related tack.

The cathedral is currently undergoing some reconstruction too, but I managed to take at least one shot which didn’t have scaffolding or netting on:


This morning I will begin my walk onto Finisterre.
The Re-birth of the pilgrim.

I am looking forward to leaving Santiago.

Neville David Thomas

Categories: Walking into Spring and Summer [My 3,109km walk from Prague to Finisterre]Tags: , , , ,


  1. Congratulations Nev – I hope your busking disappointment didn’t mar your delight at reaching Santiago. There is a great deal of competition for the passing euro by buskers, performers and beggars in the town. I think many people must become immune to it.

    • Thanks! 🙂
      Yes, LOTS of competition.
      Lots of professional musicians too.
      I just couldn’t compete with the likes of the guy with the harp who churned out knife through butter classics on the cold streets of Santiago (and who wasn’t earning much himself).
      Santiago isn’t my final destination (luckily) and I will walk onwards shortly towards the ocean.
      Wishing you a great day!
      Nev 🙂

  2. congratulations Nev to your great achievement. oh I remember very well my arrival in Santiago. I stayed at the place before the cathedral several hours. in the evening celebration with pulpu and ribeira w friends. the next day at 12 I was at the crowded pilgrim mass, very strong emotions and the strange huge Botafumeiro swinging across was special. these memories still stay with me as long as I live. good luck on your trip to fisterra. coming to the Atlantic ocean is a beauty. take care

  3. Congratulations Nev! Perhaps we’ll see you in Finisterre.

  4. Not long to go now! Best of luck with the final stretch to the end of the world and rebirth.

    Have you managed to kick the smoking habit?

  5. That’s a good view to take – that it’s not your final destination. Otherwise it tends to be anticlimactic. Congratulations are due, nevertheless!
    – Clare

  6. Do you think as muchos pilgrim do,everything that happens,stays on the camino?

  7. Awesome blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?

    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are
    so many options out there that I’m completely confused
    .. Any tips? Cheers!

    • Hi bourgeoisie marx.

      Thank you for your comment and for your compliments.

      It really depends on what you plan to be doing with your website.
      If you plan to begin a basic blog (such as is) then a free WordPress platform will probably suffice.
      But if you want to add plugins then you will need to set up a site which gives you greater control and flexibility over your content.

      Wishing you all the best!

      Nev 🙂

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