Day 30. Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Santiago…Rest day.
We stayed in bed until about nine before packing up our backpacks and going out for coffee. Although we planned to stay in the same albergue we had to clear our things and recheck in after 1:00 pm. We are not thrilled with the albergue, but it is in a great location and we could not get a hotel room until tomorrow night.
We explored the area taking note of restaurants and shops. There were a number of churches that we visited. We also came upon a market which we enjoyed seeing. But the best was yet to come.
We went to the cathedral to concelebrate the pilgrims’ Mass at noon. There were 14 priests at the Mass and it was a great feeling to be welcomed and given vestments and be part of this great experience again, this time from the altar. When pilgrims arrive and “hug the saint” it is from a hallway behind the main altar. Throughout the mass arriving pilgrims were walking behind the main altar, visible only through a grill, and we could see their hands embracing the saint during the Mass. Father John and I were asked to distribute Holy Communion. We were moved by the devotion of so many people. About 1,000 people attend the pilgrims Mass each day. Again, the botafumeiro was used and we had a bird’s eye view as it swung through the transepts, but we had been told no cameras! It was great after Mass to see more familiar faces of pilgrims we had walked with along the way, some only arriving today.
Two Irish sisters from Galway have become good friends and we invited them to join us for lunch. We ate at an outdoor cafe and through lunch kept welcoming more friends from the Camino who happened by. The women recommended a bus tour that goes around the city, so we got a better idea of the city.
We also took a rooftop tour of the cathedral. It was exciting to climb the 100+ stairs to the roof. It was a beautiful day and we had incredible views from the roof, as you can see from photos in this post.
The day passed quickly and after dinner we are about to go to bed. In the albergue light are out at 10:00 pm sharp.
We are happy to see our bodies already recovering after one day off the trail. Perhaps we will be fully recovered by the time we arrive home. If you are wondering about the beards you will have to wait and see this weekend!