There were 6 doubles in our room and the top three were cyclists who stayed in bed, but I turned the light on anyway at 7.30 and it doesn’t get light outside till after 8.
Song and the other guy were well gone by the time I departed just before 8.
It was dark and damp walking the canyons of the city streets but there are plenty of people and cars about. As I crossed the bridge it began to lighten a little and I took a photo of one of the big lions protecting he bridge.
At the bus depot I asked and the bus to Astorga leaves at 9.30 from bay 1or 2. As it turns out it’s bay 3. While I’m waiting, I use the bus wifi to send Erin a Happy 22nd Birthday wish.
I’m so proud of the effort she is making and I hope that she has a good time while Ali and Lachy come to Spain to join me.
The trip to Astorga takes about an hour and a bit. There are clouds threatening but I’m standing in front of the Cathedral in no time. The building is very different from Burgos and León. The stone is redder and the carvings around the columns are angular and the whole structure speaks robustness.
By 11 it’s time to start walking again and it takes a bit to get into rhythm. I stop and take off my jacket and weather gear and settle into it. By 12 I’ve hit the first village and it’s time for lunch and a call to Ali.
I pull into a little restaurant run by a lady a little like the mum from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.
She disses some young yanks for being impolite so I’m on my best behaviour. I say I’m after a salad but I’m “Sin gluten”. She brightens up and it’s then I notice some GF products in the display. She switches to English and says if I’m prepared to wait she will prepare a salad with corn bread so I settle in to a beer and make my call.
During the call I get to speak to Erin on her Birthday and I’m thinking of her as I walk today.
While I’m doing this the friends of the boy eating a meal, break out their own food and the owner comes out, hands deep in my corn bread and gives them a gentle lesson in manners.
When my meal arrives it looks great and the corn bread is fantastic so I engage her in conversation introduce myself and ask her name which is Pilar. She comes from the mountains to the north, the cordillera, and I mention that I’m about to climb over a big mountain but clearly by comparison mine is just a little hill.
When it’s quiet, she comes and sits at the table and we chat about the Camino.
I mention I’m meeting my wife and son in a few days which she takes to, a bit. When I’m finished and go to pay I ask Pilar if I could have the privilege of having her sello in my credentiale and after paying I get the full treatment of hugs, kisses on both cheeks and a fond adios.
Wow I’m full and the corn bread was delicious but I’m burping for the next 5k.
The walking is over gravel path in a fairly straight line and gently uphill
After an hour I stop on a bench in the next village for 10 minutes and then at 2.30 I head off for the final push to El Ganso. There are a few walking pilgrims but many more cyclists. My total walk today makes a respectable 15 k for the day, given the late start, and my feet are a little tired.
I find the Alburgue and for the first time it’s a top bunk.
Monique, French, is below and I have a shower. After I go to do my laundry I run into the owner, so I get my stuff to book in, including him doing my laundry.
I grab a cup of tea and sit on the terrace listening to Germans recounting their Camino experiences in German which I can sort of get he gist of.
After, I jump in bed, which involves an interesting mounting technique so I don’t tip the whole thing and Monique over. I’m glad she is there providing ballast.
About 6.30, I head off to find dinner and it’s a little bar with some locals at a table.
There’s some droning from yank, canadian and german in English next to me but the locals are fascinating. It’s like the local queen holding court with gentleman approaching with entreatments only to be brushed away summarily.
Eventually they leave and more pilgrims arrive and the place gets noisy.
Well it’s been a fairly long day and there is no way I’m finishing this wine so I’ll have to pull the pin. I’ve heard that tomorrow it will be raining and I have a 1550 metre mountain to climb over including a stop at the Cruz de Ferro.
The Lion of León
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