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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 42.6057, -6.81009
After coffee and our breakfast of yogurt and fruit, we were the last pilgrims to leave the Albergue Tio Pepe at about 7:50. The dawn light was great for a picture of the church before heading out of town.
This would be another 30+ kilometer day and we would be leaving the long, flat and pretty desolate Meseta scenery behind us. It became more rolling with irrigated corn fields and herds of dairy cows. The Cantabrian Mts. loomed in the distance, some 50 kilometers out.
Our first town would be Villavante where we stopped at a bakery for a fantastic chocolate filled croissant and a cup of coffee at a bar/restaurant to wash it down. We hooked up with Daniel and took a picture of him and his cool Camino arrowed shoes! Unfortunately, this may have been the last time we would be seeing him, he was planning a shorter day and would not be going all the way to Santiago. He will be completing that last leg next year, some people have to work for a living!
One of the great landmarks of the Camino was awaiting us in Hospital de Orbigo. This 300 yard, Gothic, medieval, arched bridge crosses
the Rio Orbigo. As the story goes, a knight was rejected by his one true love and he put on an iron collar and swore he wouldn't take it off until he defeated 300 knights jousting. Of course, he succeeded, completed his pilgrimage to Santiago and left a jeweled bracelet at the Cathedral, which remains there today. Story or no story, it is one impressive bridge.
After a brief water stop in Villares de Orbigo where a pilgrim shared a bunch of green grapes with us, we moved onto our last stop, Santibanez. Here we would have our sandwich, Fritos, and a couple of beers. We took off our shoes and socks and had a great 30-minute break.
One observation over the last couple of days is that, thankfully, there have been very few biking pilgrims. This, is a good thing because we have been buzzed make times that we can count as they come screaming past on narrow downhill stretches. Although we love biking, this pilgrimage is about walking!
It would be a long 11+ kilometers into Astorga. There would be several long up and downhill sections through pretty rocky terrain before reaching a several kilometer long plateau. From its edge, and
Crucifix de Santo Toribio, (erected in honor of a 5th Century bishop) the view down to the large town of Astorga, a population of over 12,000, was fantastic.
However, the distance was very misleading. From this vantage point, we thought we would be to an albergue by 3:00. It was 4:15 when we entered the city, hot, tired, with little fuel left in the tank. We checked into Albergue Siervas de Maria, the first we passed. It is 150 beds and we were in a 4-person room on the 3rd floor. There are sleeping quarters on the 1st three floors with kitchen and laundry in the basement. Can't beat the price of 5 euro.
This is a beautiful city with its impressive, ornate 15th century, baroque cathedral, pedestrian streets, and large squares filled with sidewalk tables. There seemed to be an equal mix of locals, regular tourists and pilgrims filling the tables. The largest square is overlooked by the City Hall and the clock tower at its top. On the hour, 10 foot marionettes would strike the bell.
We had a pilgrim meal on the City Hall square for 10.70 euro. Sue went with a salad, Hawaiian pizza (took off all
the pineapple), and Dave had a minestrone-type soup, salad and two fried fish filets, beer and two different cakes.
Back to the Albergue, we chatted with our roommates, a couple from Quebec, Jacque and Monique. Monique let us know that Jacque was a terrible snorer and that she would never get any sleep if it weren't for her professionally made custom ear plugs. We wanted to say, could you check Jacque at the door! We both knew this would be a very long night!
Tot: 2.8s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 9; qc: 56; dbt: 0.0444s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb