After reaching Santiago, discovering where the language school was, settling down in our host family’s apartments and meeting up to receive our certificates signifying that we successfully completed the Camino Portugués, it was time to explore the city! When Marcel and I first walked into the city, we immediately noticed how much larger and livelier it was than the other cities we had been to… and we hadn’t even reached the main city yet! We immediately saw many students our age walking around with backpacks on, smiles on their faces, and full of life. What an awesome first impression! There were many cafés spanning the city, small stores with camino t-shirts and gifts, and great clothing and sports stores that were bound to keep us busy for our duration in Santiago. I could not believe that there were so many diverse restaurants right off the bat.. for example we met at the “café Argentina” upon arrival, and knew that any craving for different food within the next two weeks could be found! When we arrived at the cathedral after settling in, it was one of the most exuberant experiences of my life. There were hundreds of other “pilgrims” who had either reached Santiago earlier or at the same time as we did, and even though they looked as tired an exhausted as we did, their eyes and faces were glowing with the same sense of accomplishment, togetherness, and the feeling of reaching a final destination that is very historically important and significant to so many people. From the moment I reached Santiago, I knew it was a special place. The people seemed very nice, side streets were very quaint and full of life, and the town itself is very lively. As I explored around the city more, things got better and better and once in “Old Town” I knew that I would feel right at home. Before the trip, I looked up many pictures of Santiago on google just to catch a glimpse of what the streets looked like, what the stores were like, the typical “café”, and what goes on in the city. Everything I saw met my expectations and more. Santiago is truly a wonderful place, and although the weather switches back and forth many times during the day from cold and rainy to warm and sunny, the historical beauty and sense of youth surrounds each and every person. I am truly astonished about how comparable my first impression of the city was compared to my initial expectations… what an awesome place to spend the next two or so weeks. It is going to be an exciting new journey, and will absolutely provide a plethora of fun new experiences for me and hopefully everyone else as well!
Mom, Dad, and Jim… miss and love you so much!