Hospital de Orbigo to Astorga – 17 Kms, 27,634 steps
My night at the albergue was not that great. Lots of noisy folks making a racket right up to lights out at 10 PM, couldn’t get my sleeping bag to behave, early wake-up call. Breakfast was served from 6 – 7 AM, then we had to be out the door by 8 AM. No lingering over coffee! And sunrise was not until 8:20, so I found myself in the dark at the edge of town, 44 F, navigating with my headlamp. The stars were pretty but I’m not really a fan of walking by lamp light.
It’s Fall and I’m experiencing typical Fall weather: crisp and cool, breezy, sunnny, and clear. As long as I put on all the layers in the morning, it’s really nice.
I walked for hours on some of the worst path surface yet: rocky and difficult and without a worn tire track to spare the feet. At about the halfway point, I pulled into what I call a “hippie rest area donativo”. A well-tanned fellow named David occupies some ruins alongside the Camino and provides food, drink, hammocks, seats, and conversation, in exchange for donations. He told me he was there “in service to God”. I was grateful for coffee at that point, but the general level of hygiene was so bad that I passed on everything else he had on offer.
I finally arrived at the point where there’s a cross commemorating a 5th century bishop, with a view of Astorga ahead. So close, yet it would be another hour before I got there. I was keeping my eye out, however, for two things I remembered from 2019:
I also re-experienced the steep climb up into Astorga when the time came. This is an old medieval town with ancient walls, built on the high ground for protection. I found my hotel without any difficulty and got settled in.
Astorga packs its 12,000 residents in tightly and offers everything a pilgrim might need. Next to its large cathedral is the Bishop’s Palace, designed by our old friend Gaudi. He sure was prolific.
Tomorrow, I have a bit longer walk, 21 Kms, to Rabanal del Camino. I’m staying in the same hostal that I stayed in last time, specifically because they served the best gourmet pilgrim meal. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have on offer this year. Only 14 more days left before Santiago.