Getting the certificate took up the entire afternoon and the early part of the evening so we barely had time to do anything other than get ready for dinner, which even under the most distressing times was a challenge we felt we could take on with pride and professionalism. We dined at a classic eatery in the old town known as Sixto (actually it was Sixto II, right down the road) and feasted on baked scallops, octopus, prawns, large quantities of beef and potatoes. Our great meal was massive and delicious and a fitting way to end the trip, which came at the end of a long line of great meals, though I can’t quite say it varied significantly from the general eating practices of our expedition.
The old town of Santiago has a lot of things to say for itself but one thing it lacks is a solid late night life. In fact, from the point of view of some residents of Madrid who knew a thing or two about going out, it pretty much sucked. There were a few spots here and there, but they were packed, packed with people, packed with smoke, packed with music, packed with a lot of reasons not to enter them…so we bagged that idea and searched elsewhere, trying not to venture too far. We went into a place nearby the park which a couple suggested to us. I remember it once used to be an Irish bar where a friend of mine worked but now was a nightclub for preppy young people, and boy did we look like freaks. Well, actually, we looked no more like freaks than they did in their own strange preppy way, we were just outnumbered. Hardly anyone took notice of us except for an occasional person stared at us warily with a look that said, “What the hell are you doing there?”
The rest just about ignored us completely, which was all right with us on one hand but, to be honest with you, our big post-pilgrimage blowout was supposed to be something a little rowdier. I was kind of hoping to be standing on some table with the big Huelva brothers, with a beer in my hand, sunglasses on and singing out loud “Louie, Louie”, but I have always had a tendency to construct fanciful visions of my future. Right now, though, I would have settled for anything more fun than hanging out with a bunch of posh kids who didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves in the first place.
No to be. Even off the Camino, the Camino teaches you that things don’t have to be the way you would like them to be. We stayed for a drink and walked back into the streets and instead of going in search of some other joint, we ended up back at the Plaza de Obradoiro where we took a look at the cathedral once again, but this time with far fewer people milling around and a ton of gorgeous lighting shining on the façade. We sat down in the same spot we did when we arrived at midday and looked up again. And we looked up again. And we looked up again. I even had my sole celebratory cigarette of the trip. I was sure it would give me a tremendous headache the next day, but at that moment, it tasted great. If you ever get to Santiago de Compostela, be it on foot or by airplane, I highly recommend take the time out of your schedule and take a seat on the stone ground of the immense square and just look at the beauty before you around midnight. It is my favorite time to look at the cathedral. It always has been…