July 17, 2008

Day 70: 22 June- San Martin del Camino to Astorga

I left at 6am, hoping to avoid some of the heat. The Camino path was near the highway to start with, but as it was Sunday morning, all was fairly quiet. I saw the moon hanging in the sky again and the sun rose behind me. By 8am I had arrived in Hospital de Orbigo and trekked over the historic bridge into an interesting looking town.
At the end of the town the track diverged: you could keep going along the highway, or walk only slightly further by taking a route through some quieter villages. There was only one option for me... and I gratefully left the highway behind, back to walk on the Camino as I had imagined it.....
I had a hot chocolate in a friendly bar in Villares de Orbigo, then the trail became more remote, crossing farmland.
All along the Camino in Spain, someone had spent time making hearts out of stones......
The day became hotter, and shade was non-existent, but I was so glad to be walking in the countryside, well away from any busy road.
And here was a stone arrow that someone had made to show the way at a point where the marking was not so clear.
Finally I reached this cross, from where you could see Astorga in the near distance. It was quite a descent into San Justo, and it was by now very hot. I filled up my water bottle with cold water, then poured water in my hat, and down my back, then started walking the last 4-5 km to the albergue in Astorga.
Astorga was an amazing city, and on Sunday was heaving with people out in the main square.
We managed to see inside the Cathedral by going to the museum, but I was just too late to see inside this amazing looking Gaudi building, as it closed early on Sundays. (Story of my life in Spain!)
And I learned an interesting lesson about albergues. We had heard that one of the albergues in Astorga was not very good. As I reached the top of the zigzag hill climb into the city, I soon reached the municipal albergue, and imagined this had to be the one people were referring to. So I carried on to near the Cathedral, to find the San Javier albergue, which was much more expensive than the municipal one. So it had to be good, right? Downstairs it looked fine with good communal areas. But on this hot, hot day, I was soon to find that I was jammed up under the roof with a zillion others in a ferociously hot dorm. Not so good! Next day we heard fulsome praises of the small rooms, friendly atmosphere etc of the municipal albergue from those who had made the fortunate choice to stay there!


  1. Yes, the municple albergue on top or the hill at the entrance to Astorga was very nice, and followed the edge of the cliff in the back, where I hung laundry. Astorga was a beautiful city. But, the walk into town, from the cross on the hill, then down and across the railroad crossing, and finally up that long zig zag seemed to take Forever at the end of an already long day. It was at the cross that I met Jean-Pierre and Marie-Christine, who had walked directly from Le Puy, not taking a break in the middle as I did.

  2. It did indeed seem to take forever- one of those get-on-with-it moments whether you liked it or not! It was very hot across the plateau at the top and on that last 4-5km into Astorga, but I wouldn't have missed that back-country route for anything- one of the highlights of the Camino landscapes for me.