September 20, 2015: Even though we did not have to be anywhere early today, we were still up by 7:30 and headed downstairs to experience our first breakfast at Hospederia San Martin Pinerio. This was by far the best breakfast buffet we experienced on the Camino! The large room was bustling with excitement as pilgrims were clearly enjoying the sumptuous offerings of fresh fruit and a wide array of breakfast goodies. We shared a table with an Irish chap who was quite entertaining telling us of his travails over the Northern Route (Camino del Norte). When we finished eating, we returned to the room and readied ourselves for the day’s activities.
Just before 10 am, we walked over to the Pilgrim’s Office on Rua Vilar and lined up to received our Compostelas (Official Certificates of Completion). Directly behind us were two bicyclists who had biked the Camino del Norte. They were from Utah. One of the guys had previously lived in Northern Spain while he was completing his Mormon mission several years ago. It was interesting to get their perspective of what it was like biking the Camino. As it turned out, they were able to answer a lot of questions Heather and I had asked ourselves while we were walking regarding where they stayed, how many miles they covered per day, and things of that nature. Talking with them and sharing our experiences made the line move more quickly it seemed, and we were soon at the front. Leaving the Pilgrim’s Office we ran into Vic and Heather from Australia! Great to see them. They were staying at a hotel at the other side of town. We said goodbye and gave them a big hug. Also standing in line was the German couple whom we had met at Casa Domingo for lunch a few days back.
While shopping the day before, Heather had spotted a colorful purse/bag that she wanted to buy, so we found that shop and obtained the bag. Then she put the “tubo” that contained our compostelas in the newly acquired purse and we headed to the Cathedral early so we could get a good seat for the Pilgrim’s Mass that was scheduled for 12 noon. Realizing we had plenty of time, we toured some of the more interesting parts of the Cathedral including the statue of St James and the “crypt” underneath. After spending some time looking at several of the small “chapels” that line the sides of the Cathedral, we proceeded over to the main seating area and quietly tried to position ourselves near the side by the massive columns so we could obtain a seat as soon as the current mass was completed.
To my surprise, I noticed that the tirobolieros (six monks) were getting in place to swing the Botafumiero (the massive incense holder). I nudged Heather and made her aware of this then pulled out my smart phone to get a video of the entire event.
Not long after, we were leaving the Cathedral and spending an hour or so shopping for gifts for our friends and loved ones along the busy Rua Vilar and all the shops near the Plaza Quintana and Rua Azabacheria.
We went back to the hotel and Heather took a long nap. I went outside and sat on the wall facing the north doors of the cathedral and just watched pilgrims come into the area for the first time.
A concert was just starting up in the plaza right next to the hotel, so I stayed and watched that for awhile.
When I got back to the room, Heather was still sleeping, so I crawled into my bed and caught some shut-eye. When we woke up, we walked over to a restaurant I had eaten at last trip to get an early dinner, but it was unfortunately closed for the day. So we did some more shopping and then went back and ate dinner at the hotel.