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How to have a satisfying "end" to the Camino?


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Was reading through the thread What happens when you get to Santiago? and there seems to be a feeling of anti-climax once you arrive. Although I am an unexperienced Pelegrina and will be starting my first this summer, I can imagine how that must be. But what about those of us that finish off elsewhere?

Due to time constraints or otherwise many don't make it all the way to Santiago. I will be starting off in SJPP and will be walking for 3 weeks so will probably end up around Leon. How best to "finish" the Camino when the final destination is not Santiago?

Any suggestions/thoughts would be appreciated.

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Past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Get a bus to Santiago and spend one night there so that you can attend the pilgrims' mass. If you feel like standing in the queue at the Pilgrims' Office, you can still get a certificate below but not the Compostela. That will be something to look forward to next time!

(Or, whilst in Leon, stay up until mid-night and sit in the square outside the cathedral. On the strike of 12am they stwich off all the lights in the square and switch on the lights inside the cathedral so that the stained glass is lit up from the inside.)


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Deleted member 3000

There is anti-climax only if you had expectations. Santiago is mood-neutral. The mood will only be what you bring with you.

It will be the same for intermediate stopping points.


Active Member
Well, I guess it depends on the person.... Some people are glad to stop!!

Personally I wouldn't go to Santiago. The couple of times I've arrived not on foot it has been a total anti-climax.

You may feel a bit sad that the people you have been walking with are carrying on and you must stop and going to Santiago won't help in that case because one of the nicest bits about arriving in Santiago is usually meeting up with everyone you've seen along the route and congratulating/commiserating with each other etc...

Why not take a day or so to relax and see Leon, you can still go a mass there, maybe treat yourself to a nice hotel for night, pamper yourself with your own bathroom and a night in the bedroom where noone else is snoring!?!

I would do something that makes you feel nice, like a treat for finishing. If it was me I'd head to the seaside but it's your camino do what you feel is best.

Buen Camino


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2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Santiago can grow on you!
The first time I arrived in Santiago after walking the Camino Frances was a real anti-cimax. (No cheering crowds, no music, no medal!) We always hear that "it is not the destination but the journey that is important" and perhaps this is where we differ most from the medieval pilgrim whose main reason for walking such a long way was to arrive at the tomb of the saint.
The second time around I couldn't wait to get there and felt quite emotional to be back.
I have since walked into Santiago two more times and each time was more special than the last.
While I was at San Roque, I was lucky to have had two trips to Santiago and I fell in love with the place.
I don't think a medieval pilgrim would feel out of place in Santiago as it is today with its grey, stone arcades, moss covered cathedral and never ending crowds of people, student groups, pilgrims from all over the world, nuns in habits, buskers, musicians, beggars and priests.
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Thanks guys for response!

Don't feel called to take bus/train to Santiago...and to go there just for a certificate is also not necessary. I hope to walk there at some point in the future so probably will opt for a "hang-loose" option. Indeed maybe spoil myself or do something special once done - where ever that may be!

You are of course right Falcon, no expectations is best but completely expectation-free? Not likely!

I believe that for a lot of people who walk the Camino it's not the destination but the journey that's really important. Your post brought to mind this poem:


When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean.

Constantine P Cavafy


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2010 SJPdP to Finesterre
SJPdP or Hendaye Via Camino Vasco and CF to SdC 2016
Paris to SDC 2018
One thing's for sure, don't sit outside a bar close to the cathedral and order a beer unless you're rich. Last week 4 drinks cost 4 of us nearly as much as a whole evening had cost eating and drinking in a bar in Pedrouzo the previous day.
Reading Tim Moore's 'Spanish Steps' apparently the large hotel to the left of the cathedral still fulfills an ancient obligation to pilgrims,
'Turn up at its regal reception in your filthy road clothes with a compostela in your hands, and its management would serve you a complimentary meal .....for three days.' Apparently you're fed in the staff canteen but I wish I'd remembered that when I was there. Has anyone done this?


Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
I guess for me, Santiago was the 'end-point' of a long journey (from Le Puy) and I was just really glad to be finishing! I was tired and my ankles had been sort-of-ready to finish by Moratinos- but the beautiful cities of Leon and Astorga, and the lovely countryside from Hospital de Orbigo on, rejuvenated me.
I had no particular expectations of Santiago, and somehow I hadn't expected to end up having such joy meeting so many people I had seen along the way. In the cathedral itself I received a huge hug from a Frenchman I had last seen outside the Italian albergue of San Nicolas. His warm greeting was the best acknowledgment I could have had of the reality of walking so far...
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