Spain

The final stage. Approximately 100km divide us from the Cape Finisterre, the End of the World and the final destination of our bicycle world tour, when we pack our bikes in Monte de Gozo on the hills of Santiago de Compostela. The sunny days we enjoyed every day since we entered Spain seem to be over, grey in grey, deep hanging clouds and drizzling rain.

Drizzling, pouring, dry periods, rain jacket on, rain jacket off, poncho on, poncho off. Usually a situation which would bother me a lot, but on this day it does not. The final day. We curl through the traffic of Santiago, the two of us and our Camino companion Sabine, whom we met some 800km further East in Logroño and cycled since then together along the Way of St. James. Even though she was probably the cyclist with the least luggage on a bike on the whole Camino, her belongings packed into a little backpack that she was wearing on her back, our rhythm of traveling matched perfectly and she decided to join the team “mucho equipaje”, which consisted so far of the two of us with probably the most luggage on a bike on the whole Camino.

Of course it was hilly today, northern Spain has been constantly hilly. Motivating was the thought that the last kilometers of the day must go downhill, we will end at the seaside. So while we pedal towards the ultimate goal we meet another fellow cyclist with, no surprise, the same destination in mind. Despite the unpleasant weather conditions the mood of the now four of us is extremely good. And it did not even change when it started to rain cats and dogs a couple of kilometers before the village Finisterre. When then even the fog turned up, the atmosphere could not have been better to reach the End of the World. Being cheered on the last couple of meters by the few locals who were on the streets on such a day, I espy the lighthouse, we are almost there. We will finish the Way of St. James here, like many others did before, and we will stand still at the cliffs where only the Atlantic Ocean divides us from the island Cuba where we started our bicycle tour a bit more than two years ago. Happiness, which we share with our two companions, while saving parts of this moment by taking pictures. The deafening fog horn blows in regular intervals while the rain keeps pouring down on us. An overwhelming moment which could not have been initiated better.

Pedaling from the Mediterranean Coast across Spain, we were several times tortured by the round red outlined sign with a bicycle inside on a white background. Bicycles were forbidden on many secondary roads on others of the same type the cyclists were not banned. Why? No one knows and the road map cannot tell either which roads were open to cyclist. “Sponsored by EU”, Spain is renovating its roads with the intention to make the traffic faster by widening the lanes including the shoulders and to ban every vehicle except for cars. Even trucks with a weight above 7,5 tons were sometimes forced to use the much smaller and distance wise longer side road which might go over a 1000m pass instead of rolling along the smoothly graded and newly paved road connecting two villages directly. As busy as the Way of St. James was as lonely were the kilometers to it. In the Monastery of Oliva, only a bit more than a hundred kilometers away from the Camino, we witnessed original Monastery life during our overnight stay,  four times as many monks than overnight guests.

But I had a very pleasant time on the busy Way of St. James, this year is even a holy year. I felt supported by all the others, to always continue westwards, all of a sudden we were one of a million moving westwards, following the yellow arrow painted EVERYWHERE on the ground, house walls or trees. Easy and why not once in a while choose the easy and comfortable way to reach one’s goal?

Completo! It has come full circle, and despite the fact that the Atlantic Ocean divids the starting point and the final destination of our tour, the same language is spoken in both locations. Que les vaya bien!