This morning was bright and not too cold. We walked across country through farmland (with cows) to the next village.
We came across an Irish woman who had been staying in the same albergue as us for a couple of nights walking in the opposite direction. The poor woman had left her phone at the hostel and had to retrace her initial 3 km in order to reclaim it. That would have made a very long day for her. She and two friends are walking the camino in stages, over three years. All three of them apply full make up before leaving in the morning and are still amongst the first to leave. I have applied a bit of eye liner on two or three occasions in the evening and thought I was doing well!
After a while we came to a most peculiar monument, looking more like a Samuri warrior than a peaceful pilgrim.
No roads to walk on this morning, and the tracks varied between lovely soft sand, deeply rutted dried mud, and worst of all large loose pebbles (not so different from hiking over Chessel beach).
We stopped for some breakfast from our backpack supplies after a couple of hours.
Not much further on we came to the ‘House of The Gods’ which is a market type stall, loaded with food and drink that passing pilgrims can help themselves to. It is run by a spanish guy called David, who had walked the camino and wants to give something back. He lives in a shelter alongside the track in the middle of nowhere and provides food for passing strangers. What a star! We helped ourselves to some hot water and chatted to some other pilgrims before making a donation and returning to the track.
Three hours into our day’s walk we came to a point where we could look down over the city of Astorga.
The approach wasn’t as tedious as into Burgos and Leon (and there weren’t any buses running from the track) but the city itself is very pretty with many interesting buildings, including this fabulous Palacio Episcopal designed by Gaudi.
The cathedral and plaza mayor were very impressive. We stopped at a farmacia to restock our blister equipment and I bought a knee brace in anticipation of our awful descent tomorrow.
We were tempted to visit the chocolate museum. Astorga is apparently famous for its artisan chocolate. I will have to do some personal research and make a report at a later date.
I overheard that it is Mother’s Day today in Spain. I told Ella that she had to be nice to me and her response was “why”………. Say no more. We came across a marching band in the city, mostly consisting of children and I presume celebrating mother’s day.
As we were leaving the city and entering a village on the outskirts we came across a religious procession of Jesus and Mary having a day out accompanied by the biggest flags I have ever seen.
We walked a further 9 km beyond Astorga, with snow covered mountains looming ever nearer and decided to stay in the absolutely delightful village of Santa Catalina de Samoza. The whole village is either very ancient and built entirely of stone (95%) or more recent but built to look ancient (5%). Although the weather was a bit dull by now, I couldn’t resist taking loads of photos.
We had intended to walk a further five kilometres today and I was totally up for it, but the weather seemed to be changing when we arrived here and the next village only had 20 beds with no guarantees of us finding accommodation, so we decided to stay put at 25 km. I stuck with my own pace today, not trying to keep up with Ella, and took breaks every couple of hours. It worked well and I felt reasonably strong at the end of the day. Ella didn’t appreciate it much, but hey, it was Mother’s Day, who cares what the kids think!
We are now coming across lots of people who we have met and talked with previously. William and Jonathan from the USA (not walking together), and a German guy we met on day one in particular, although quite a few pilgrims have opted to stay overnight in Astorga. It all depends on time scales and stamina.