Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Camino 2013 - Day 28: San Martín del Camino To Astorga

People woke up early today.  The stars were still out when we left the albergue.  I had to pull out my little flashlight once we left town to look for arrows.  We'd left earlier in the day before but dawn was slowly getting later and later and you had to wait longer for the light.  You notice the sun's movements much more acutely when you hike and depend on them so much.
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The long Gothic bridge in Hospital de Órbigo.
This portion of the Camino was much more interesting and scenic than the day before.  We passed through the town of Hospital de Órbigo home of an impressive Gothic bridge and home of a legend about a knight who challenged other knights in jousts for 30 days to win the hand of a noble lady.  After winning nearly 300 jousts he removed a silver collar that represented his love for the noble woman and became a pilgrim and walked the Camino to Santiago de Compostela.
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Walking through farmland including vineyards.
From here the Camino goes out into the countryside and passes through farm fields.  We met Ma (who we'd met in San Bol and who was now separated from her walking partner Cm\).  We walked with her a while but she turned out to be too quick for me.  She was a hell of a fast walker.  While Gv and I turned out to be much faster walkers than most of the Camino crowd, two of the fastest walkers we would meet were women who pretty much smoked us.
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A small rest spot along the country road decorated with Camino art.
Speaking of walking pace.  Mine had changed a lot along this Camino.  On the Aragones I'd felt stronger and faster - it was my endurance that was lacking.  Gv was often behind me on the Aragones.  Once I got to the Frances and the heel blisters made their appearance my pace slowed dramatically.  It was all I could do to keep up with Gv.  The pain I felt from the blisters and the gloomy, rainy weather that sapped my mood really put a drag on me.  But things were starting to change.  The weather was being more cooperative and we walked this stage without rain.  The fairly somber mood I'd been in since about Carrión de los Condes, the real start of the gloomy, rainy weather, was starting to lift.  The sun felt awesome.  Over the next few days Gv would conclude that I was solar powered needing only sunlight and sugar to be happy.
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David's Casa de los Dioses - a food and drink stand supported by donations.
Between towns there is the oasis known as Casa de los Dioses (Home of the Gods) which is the location of David's Fruit Stand.  I'd heard about this place after I got back from my last Camino.  David, and other volunteers, have set up a stand in front of a dilapidated ruin of a farm building.  The stand is full of fruit, teas, hot and cold water, juices, and other treats for pilgrims.  There were several pilgrims hanging around, drinking coffee and tea, and relaxing in the sun.  David wasn't there when we stopped there but another volunteer, originally from Romania, was there tending the stand.  I picked up two bananas and a couple glasses of apple juice which I payed for with a donation in the small box on one end of the stand.
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The cross overlooking Astorga.  The cathedral and palace are to the left of the cross.
We reached an overlook with a cross.  From there you could see Astorga.  You could also see you had to go down before going back up ... naturally.  A man was playing a guitar in the shade near the cross.  As we approached he changed his song to sing about Gv.  We laughed at this.  Some change was tossed into his guitar case.

We stopped to rest briefly in a town just outside Astorga.  I bought my daily ice cream bar and had taken a couple bites when Gv turned, one of her trekking poles bumped my hand, and the ice cream bar dropped into the gutter.  I was bummed.  I held it over Gv for a few days ... and I mourn that ice cream bar to this very day.
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Put a smile on my face.  It says "Your life is crap and you know it."
The smiley face is a nice touch.
We arrived in Astorga and stayed in the same albergue as last time.  We walked around the town a little in the afternoon while our clothes were drying.

After I'd gotten back from my last Camino, I'd read about the chocolate factory in Astorga that gave tours and free samples.  I'd promised myself that I would stop there this time.  That didn't happen.  When I got to Astorga I was tired and totally uninterested in touring a chocolate factory.  I think my disinterest stemmed from having been carrying chocolate bars in my pack since on the Aragones.  My first chocolate on my first Camino had been in Astorga.  This time I didn't even buy any chocolate in Astorga ... I had a bar in my bag already.  Unlike me, I don't even regret not going to the factory.
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The cathedral and the palace in Astorga.
We shopped for supplies and ended up at an outfitter that I remembered from last time.  It looked like it was closing or moving.  The owner saw us waiting outside and he opened the security gate for us and personally let us in to shop.  I found a pair of liner socks in my size and bought a pair (in retrospect, I should have bought two pair).
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Tried to video the ringing of these bells but I wasn't successful.
On the way back to the albergue we saw that the clock over the government building, a clock with elaborate bells with life size figures as bell ringers, was getting ready to go off.  I started videoing hoping to see the figures move.  When it started to toll there was no movement.  Thinking it wasn't working I turned off the camera ... just before the figures started moving and ringing the bell.  I turned the camera back on in time to see them stop.  *sigh*

Like the last time we stopped here, Gv cooked us an evening meal.   It was very hectic in the kitchen that night.  A lady (Italian? I can't remember) was cooking a lavish meal for her Camino family and friends.  We sat in the dining room eating our meal and talking with other pilgrims.  There seemed to be a lot of happy people there with singing and mandolin playing.

Tomorrow we would be returning back to the familiar part of the Camino.  The next two stages would be identical to the ones we walked last time.  I would try out my new liner socks.  More importantly, my mood would continue turning up and my walking pace picked back up.  Things were turning around and I liked how I was starting to feel.

Pictures can be found in my Camino de Santiago 2013 Flickr set.

Total Distance on Day 28: 23 km ( 14.29 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 635 km (394.57 Miles)

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Approximate Track of the day's hike.
[Click on map for a larger version]

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