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Cycling the Camino de Santiago - Day 20 (The end of the road)

It took me almost three weeks, but I finally made it to Santiago de Compostela. 

Rolling into the outskirts of the city, dusty and hungry and tired, and realising there was just 10km more, then 6km more, then 2km, until finally, finally, I was stood before the great Cathedral herself, was a truly momentous experience. 

Here it was - the resting place of St James, the end of the road. 

My day, however, started back at the monastery in Sobrado. 

I woke at 6:30am and was upstairs in the chapel for mass with the Cistertian monks at 7am. 

Then it was time to say my goodbyes and hit the road. I had another 60km to go. The final 60km. 

I had hoped for an easy day, but I soon realised there is no such thing when you're on the Camino de Santiago. 

After an initial downhill stretch, I soon came to more severe uphill slog, passing by fields and through woods. 

Thankfully, none lasted too long. 

But it was exhilarating to see the stone markers count down the remaining kilometres. They kept me going. 

Having started back in France, almost 800km away, it was somewhat surreal to see a marker say 'Santiago de Compostela - 50km'.

As I got closer and closer, I'll admit I was prone to bouts of sobbing. 

Embarrassing, yes, but it's the truth. 

Any little thing set me off. The smell of eucalyptus trees, the way the light hit a forest floor, the sweet release of turning a corner and seeing a downward slope...

I couldn't believe I was nearly there. I had nearly done it. All of it. 

There were so many times I thought I was nearly there, nearly there. 

The outskirts of the city are huge, as is the city itself, so you feel like you're there ages before you actually are. 

But I hung in there, kept going, kept pedalling, and eventually, eventually I got there. 

I thought I would bawl my eyes out... but I didn't. 

Perhaps all the sobbing earlier on had gotten it out of my system. Perhaps the shock of seeing scaffolding on the front of the Cathedral dampened the visual spectical. Whatever it was, my eyes remained dry, but my heart was light and happy and free. 

I had done it. All by myself. Over mountains, through woods, up hills, down hills, with bed bugs and monks and a dog bite and two dodgy ankles. 

I felt relief, and disbelief. And happiness. 

After basking in front of the Cathedral for a while, I went to get a few tacky souvenirs and check into my hotel. 

I treated myself to a private room in Santiago that night, so no need for ear plugs...

And I don't think I've ever slept so well. 

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