Astorga to Foncebadon

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September 30th 2016
Published: October 22nd 2017
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Geo: 42.7554, -7.24293

After Monique's warning about Jacque's snoring, we were not surprised that we did not sleep. A consensus among the pilgrims is that if you have a serious snoring problem, you need to get a private room.

We had our usual breakfast in the albergue's kitchen and were on the street by 7:30. A Japanese woman offered to take our picture in front of the pilgrim sculpture outside the albergue. She wanted to walk with us since it was pre-dawn and she felt more comfortable. Astorga is a beautiful city even in the dark and we enjoyed our walk out of town. Toward the edge of town we stopped for our first coffee. It was good coffee but was expensive at 1.50 euro.

We were ascending slightly through amazing hamlets that all looked as if most were ancient ruins. Through narrow streets with beautiful little churches. The landscape changed dramatically to scrubby trees, rocky paths and wind turbines on the top of every mountain. We kept seeing deer crossings but have yet to see any wildlife except for a "road kill" rabbit.

We shared a cup of coffee and the biscuits given to us by a pilgrim one morning when she didn't want to carry them. The proprietor at the coffee bar was so happy and friendly. We had decided not to stop at each village today because we did not have reservations at an albergue and we did not like getting in and settled after 4:00.

We enjoyed the Cantabrian Mountains and stopped for lunch in Rabanal. We were surprised to see Lisa, a young woman who we traveled with for several days before Burgos. The bottoms of her feet were extremely sore almost from the beginning. We really thought we would never see her again. She ended up taking a taxi from Carrion to Leon and then, "because the Camino provides" met an orthopedic doctor at a laundromat who fixed her up with shoe inserts and told her to buy trekking poles! She has been doing fine since then and expects to be in Santiago by the 11th. We also had lunch with a French guy, Antoine, we have been seeing for the last several days and a really strong woman from Germany, Alexandra. We had our sandwich which we prepared the night before, an apple and two beers. Both Antoine and Alexandra had grande beers so Dave felt bad that he only got a medium! Where could you bring your own food into a restaurant/bar in the US? They don't blink and are happy you purchase your drinks!

From Rabanal the Camino ascends steeply to Foncebaden, almost 3,000 feet in six kilometers. This town is mostly crumbling stone buildings but has several albergues. When we arrived at our first choice, we felt we had arrived at a 60's hippie commune. The only dorm left had mattresses, no beds. It really wasn't for us. Then, we stood in line for the parochial albergue that opened at 3:00. Landon and Cecelia were first in line and we met an American couple who we have seen many times. In the meantime, Dave wandered up to another albergue that had space and was very clean. After the American couple who were the hosts at the parochial albergue explained the ritual, we decided we preferred the other one. We checked into the La Cruz Albergue (10 Euro) where we got two lower bunks! It's a nice place with all young pilgrims. We got a chance to catch up on our blog and would have the communal dinner at 7:00, although the cook is awfully taken with the Spanish movie playing -- we'll see!

It was cold up in the mountains and the host built a fire in the pot belly stove and we were happy for the heat and ambience.

It turned out great. There would only be eight of us at the Albergue and all of us were at dinner. Joining us were two Croacian guys, a Malasian woman, Spanish woman (Amparo), a Brazilian (Carlos), and Calvin from Vancouver, Canada. The Croasian guys had been hiking 40+ kilometers a day and now found themselves about five days ahead in getting to Santiago; they are now going to slow down and plan to arrive the same as us.

Dinner was a mixed salad (again with tuna), pork chops, fries, and melon or ice cream for dessert. We all bragged about the after dinner liqueur 'Licor de Bierba, Cehupito'. We had a very lively conversation with everyone participating and the hostess taking lots of pictures of the group. Several of us went out to the patio to admire the stars and lights of Astorga and the villages in the valley below. It was one of our best experiences with pilgrims and the Albergue in general. (Landon came over from the parochial Albergue and was very jealous!)

Lights went out about 10:15.

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