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Published: October 16th 2014
This morning we woke to rain at 6am. Sue was catching the bus back to Leon and transferring to another going to Astorga. Total cost, 4.6 Euros. Tim and I set off in the light drizzle with a headlamp on. It was dark until about 8.15 but we were on a minor road so the surface was good. We were accompanied by Bev from Boston, a middle aged woman who was doing the Camino for religious reasons. Of all the people we have met, the Americans seem to be the god fearing types who have a spiritual reason for the walk. Nothing wrong with that and no one has tried to impose their views on us. Bev was visiting quite a few sites along the Way and really knew her relevant dates and occasions for the walk. She had been given the walk as a 60th birthday gift and was travelling alone. She was pretty fit and stayed with us until daylight. She needed the torch light for safety early on so she stuck with us.
Just before Villavante, Bev stayed back as she wanted to have a coffee and a break. Tim and I did a feet check and
then pushed on to Hospital Del Orbigo, a village originally occupied by the Knights Templar and still flying the Knights'flag. This village has one of the longest medieval bridges in Spain, dating back to the 13th century. This bridge's many arches carry you across the Rio Orbigo and past the Paso Honroso, the jousting area dating back to a famous tournament that took place in the Holy Year 1434. A knight from Leon, scorned by the one he loved, put down the challenge to defend the Bridge against all comers. Knights from all over Europe took up the challenge, and after defending the Bridge successfully 300 times, Don Suero and his comrades left for Santiago to claim the hand of the woman he loved. I daren't imagine what a modern version of this would be, well I could but I won't speculate here.
Leaving Hospital de Orbigo after preparing a late breakfast, we made good time to Astorga, ignoring the easier, shorter route along a road and followed the natural path to Astorga, joining with the other route at the Cruceiro de Santo Toribio, an elevated site about 4 kilometres from our destination. We spent the whole day in
bleak but dry weather passing though cornfields and, for about 2 hours, traipsing up and down rough rocky tracks in a wooded area which was very testing on already tired feet and legs. It took about 7 hours of steady walking including 1hr of rest and food breaks to complete the 32kms so by 2.30pm we met Sue, showered and went for a more casual stroll around Astorga.
Astorga's main claims to fame seem to be the Cathedral, chocolate (samples were purchased and thoroughly tested) and another Gaudi creation, Palacio Episcopal, an almost fairy tale castle that I'm sure would blow anyone away with its beauty. I'm not often overawed by a building but this has to be seen to be fully appreciated . Astorga is a great place for a visit and a few days would be needed to fully cover it's sights. We stayed in an albergue near the Cathedral that housed 95 people with about 8 to a room. It was well run by volunteers and had the squeakiest old beds and floorboards we have experienced so far. It's a medieval building and you could see in the rooms above and below through the cracks in
the floor. Combine this with 2 snoring middle aged women, no not Sue, and it's easy to imagine the sleep patterns. Tomorrow we go to Rabanal del Camino, a small village 22kms away, and it's a steady climb all day. Rain is predicted but with new longer ponchos all is good. Sue will be back on the trail tomorrow for the first time in a while.
Did I mention I left my clothes bag in Marzarife......no?.....ok I won't. Luckily all my clothes were dirty so I only lost a pair of jocks and an Aldi t-shirt. Never rely on others to check a room for left behinds, your stuff is your responsibility; I am now convinced of this as it's the second time I have asked that question and been told nothing was there. It's all my fault, I know that now and it won't happen again. I promise!
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