Day 34 – To Rabanal del Camino

Astorga to Rabanal del Camino – 21 Kms, 27,347 steps

I said farewell to Astorga at 8:00 AM and joined several others heading down the Camino to the city limits. Sunrise occurred about 20 minutes later. It was a chilly 44 F and I was layered up. The walking was smooth and easy, however.

Doorway in Santa Catalina de Somoza

Before long, I had passed through several small towns and arrived at my halfway point, Santa Catalina de Somoza, and I stopped for breakfast at a cafe I recognized from 2019. How I managed 10 Kms without coffee (there was nothing open in Astorga) is a mystery.

Santa Catalina Camino marker

The guidebook says that Santa Catalina de Somoza is the only town on the Camino named for a woman! She’s Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and apparently the “de Somoza” part means “of the foothills”. At any rate, I’m glad to have spent a nice 30 minutes there, getting my caffeine fix and shedding layers to better match the warming weather.

There are a lot of pilgrims out on the Camino now, more than I remember seeing at this point in 2019. Sometimes it seems crowded, other times it’s nice to be able to see where others are going up ahead when the path zigs and zags. I wonder what this means it will be like when I get to Sarria, where the short-distance folks traditionally join in and swell the pilgrim headcount.

The Spanish countryside

My next stop was the town of El Ganso, whose name makes me think of “Gonzo”, Hunter S. Thompson’s wacky type of journalism. The town is the home of the famous Cowboy Cafe, which I think might please Thompson:

The Cowboy Cafe exterior…
…and Western-themed interior

It’s more hype than substance, though. For example, there’s Willie Nelson on the sound sysem, but no Lone Star in the taps. Of course, if you’re going to have Cowboy Cafe, then you need:

The Albergue Indian Way

Yes, an albergue that houses you in teepees. I think Hollywood needs to look into filming a new series of westerns here – the community is obviously into it already.

I was in Rabanal de Camino in no time after that and I’m now checked in and unpacked at El Refugio Hosteria, a really nice hostal. In 2019, I ate a fantastic dinner here, featuring a salad with a scoop of spiced ice cream, and a main dish of beef cheeks in red wine sauce. It was absolutely the best meal of that Camino, so I’m looking forward to seeing what is on offer this evening.

Tomorrow, I’m off to El Acebo. It’s only 17 Kms but, as I recall, there are some steep sections with treacherous footing. The weather forecast is for more of the same, which is great. Cheers.

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