AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I MADE IT!! OFFICIALLY – I have finished the Camino Frances! On the 19th June I reached Santiago de Compostela, 790km in exactly 28 days and then 2 days later and another 90km I reached ‘the end of the world‘ – (Finisterre – the historical tip of the ocean where back in pre-christian times and into the medieval period people thought was the very spot where the earth ended as it was the furthest cliff to the sea).
The trek was utterly amazing and the most physically and mentally challenge I have ever undertaken. There are so many stories I have and so many great people that I have met that are now in my memory forever.
The last 5km approaching Saintiago didn’t feel real. I remember on day 4 into the trek Saintiago felt so far away that I was dreaming of what it would be like to finish – not really thinking of when or how it would happen. At the same time, I then came across an old tall Frenchmen named Bernard who said “your at the halfway point into the Camino when you stop and question yourself, why am I doing this?”. A few weeks later, believe it or not he was right and I asked myself that very question as I was walking on a large stretch of flat road that went on for 17km kilometeres and there wasn’t one village in sight (I was in the ‘Meseda’ basically meaning a long road of nothing but dry fields and is uncomfortably hot). When I asked myself that question I didn’t really have an imperial light bolb moment of realisation as my answer to myself was that I really wasn’t sure the exact reason why I was completing the trek. All I knew is that my curiosity of the journey and starting something a while ago I needed to finish. I think completing 4 days of it 4 years ago was just a teaser to bring me back. I had a wonderful 4 days, however, the best thing is and would never of happen if I finished it the first time. That this time I am excited, as now I can create a beautiful journal and book for all the future people who complete the Camino so they too can capture their wonderful journey. Maybe that was my purpose and I think also to learn how to slow down life! Because it goes so quickly and we don’t always have to rush.
My final two hours of walking into the city of Santiago so many thoughts and images were running and flashing through my mind… How that for everyday for 28 days I woke up at 5:30am and didn’t sleep in once, the beautiful and not so beautiful terrain that I walked across for 790km, the sunrises, the sunsets, the rain, the snow, the wind, the mountains, the villages, the churches, the deepest mud I could never imagine to walk through and lastly the vast amount of people I met from all nationalities and ages – from young as 18 to old as 74. All these thoughts were running through my mind as fast as you would when you flick through a new book in a bookstore and then all of a sudden BAM!!! There it was, the most incredible Gothic Cathedral I have ever seen in my life. The cathedral of Saintiago de Compostela! standing before me. I was utterly and completely blown away. I was so happy and captured by at how actually cool the Cathedral was that I completely forgot that I just finished the Camino itself. This Cathedral is just out of this world and so beautiful I can’t describe – one of those things you have to see for yourself to feel the magnitude of it’s presence. But it is that amazing you could sit for hours just starring at it and be mesmerised by boldness and history. After a few minutes the moment that I just finished sunk in, naturally I was excited 😉 so in style I jump around and did some cartwheels to celebrate! Then of course a celebration isn’t a celebration without champagne, so with a glass of champagne Maria and I toasted to our individual journey’s and I got my Certificate of Compostela (for finishing the Camino) which is now one of my loved certificates of life!
When I reached Saintiago which is the official finishing point of the Camino -I was stoked but I didn’t feel like I was complete. With my flight to Rome on the 23rd of June, I had a few days and I really wanted to keep walking to Finisterre and reach ‘the end of the earth’. It would take another three days to walk so I was thinking what was best to do, as I didn’t have three days. I then made one of my best decisions 😉 I hired a bicycle! and the next day after reaching Saintiago my amiga Maria thought it was a great idea so she came along too and we rode the last 90km to Finisterre so I could make it before my flight.
Riding the bicycle was such a different experience. I was going soooo fast! I mean walking is incredible, but when you have two wheels oh baby your quick. We followed the exact Camino route, which meant we were going through the mud again, through the rain forrest and up mountains. The first day we rode 33km and it was pouring rain and it was so tough. I have so much more respect for those who rode the Camino now. As it is not easy going up a hill with your pack strapped to the back of your bike. This time my thighs and calf muscles were getting the workout of their lives! After the first two HOURS I asked myself (well more my body was asking).. “Why the hell am I still going? I thought we finished at Saintiago!” Oh my goodness soaking wet going through mud and up a mountain was so difficult. I was so muddy, dirty and sweaty that I was afraid the Auberge’s wouldn’t even let us in to stay the night…but they thankfully and kindly did. But then the next day and going DOWNHILL – ahhhh I was as free as a bird and literally flying. It was magical. The second day of riding was so much fun and a huge experience. I kept on repeating to Maria how impressed I was with my bicycle. I have never did ‘bike trekking’ until now and can’t believe how it is so much fun. My bicycle was going through puddles of mud half a metre deep and over rocks the size of books! It was so crazy, the tyres were just bouncing taking on the terrain and I was just utterly impressed how brilliant it was the bike could sustain it. The second day we cycled 57km to get to Finisterre. As we approached and started to the sea, I didn’t have one single thought in my mind, just the wind blowing on my face, the road in front of me, I was in heaven.
It took another another 2 and half hours of riding before we saw the actual beach and when we did it was unreal. The Atlantic was that crystal aqua blue as if you were in Fiji and the sand was white as Australia’s beaches. For the first time in a month, when I saw the ocean I felt like I was done – I was finished, it was time to jump in the water! Like every Finn they are not afraid and very open, so we dropped our clothes and jumped in. The water was absolutely freezing, but my body and mind loved every single bit. Then later that afternoon I sat at the spot where the world ended and watched the sunrise go down and came across the sign which said 0.00km to walk. Completeo. A journey of a lifetime and one etched into history.