Sorry for any confusion about the distance of yesterday’s stage. I noticed my typo pretty soon and corrected it, but not before the post was sent out to those receiving it by email. It should have (and now does) read 28, not 38. I’m still finding it very fiddly to blog on my phone!
The exit from Pola de Siero is quick and painless followed by 3 km of pleasant country roads and a motorway crossing before passing through the large town of El Berrón with plenty of bars and cafes open. Another motorway crossing at 5km followed by more country roads. First (and only I think ) short track 8.5 km. I treat myself to a short break at 10.5 km on a bench in the shade of a church.
There is yet another abundance of ponies and horses with many foals on this stage. I wonder why so many equines are in evidence. I’ve not yet seen anyone riding or using the heavier horses as beasts of burden – maybe just a love for these beautiful animals.
The outskirts of Oviedo start very early with lots of commercial buildings and much traffic on busy roads. There will be more than 5 km to walk through these areas until reaching the old town, and the traffic noise and stench from the fumes are an assault on the senses after being in the countryside for so long.
Also, when in or approaching a city very few people will make eye contact and greet me, whereas in the countryside people without fail say hello and often buen camino.
It’s another scorcher of a day – really hot by 9am, and I’m glad to be walking a short stage today. The last time I arrived in Oviedo was from the camino San Salvador and it was pouring with rain the whole time I was here. So I wanted a short day so that I could be a tourist for the afternoon. If you are interested in the caminos I walked on that previous occasion take a look here.
I’m staying once again in the Albergue de Peregrinos de El Salvador situated in a huge old convent building. I knew they didn’t open until 16:00 and it wasn’t even noon when I arrived, but I was melting in the heat and just wanted to be able to drop off my backpack asap. The albergue is situated almost 1 km out of the centre, but I took the chance and found the albergue outer door open and when I rang the bell to the inner sanctum a lovely kind man let me in and ushered me directly to the shower. Maybe he was trying to tell me something, but I had no argument with taking a much desired shower ahead of any other pilgrim. THANK YOU señor hospitalero for your kindness and understanding. After a wonderful shower I left my stuff behind a door and was instructed to return at 16:00. That was my first stroke of luck.
The second lucky happenstance was not so cleansing! As I walked across the main square I was well and truly pooped upon by what might have been a vulture judging by the force of the impact (but was most likely a pigeon). According to folklore this is supposed to be lucky, and it was indeed fortunate that I was now wearing a strappy top and the poop landed square on my shoulder to the side of the strap. I placed myself under an archway in order to mop up the mess and tried to ask a passing couple to confirm that I had been successful. They reacted to my request as if I had approached them wielding a knife and darted away at full speed. So I popped into a shop with a mirror to check for myself and discovered that I had done a good job. I wonder what my third good fortune will be?
It’s a privilege to be here in good weather to enjoy the chilled ambience and beauty of this city. Maybe that’s my number three?
Ah, but now I’ve had my third lucky coincidence. I went to the cathedral to have my credencial stamped and bumped into the lovely young couple we have seen on and off along the way. I said goodbye to them in Villaviciosa because they are continuing on the Norte, so was surprised to see them here. She is from Edinburgh and he is Spanish with an amazing Spanish/Scottish accent. It was a delight to see them again on their ‘day off’ – they took the bus to Oviedo.
Last time I was here pilgrims were allowed to visit the cathedral without paying the entrance fee, but not so this time. So, as I had seen it before, I had my credencial stamped, quickly chatted to my friends and continued on my way.
The forecast is for cooler weather tomorrow – I sincerely hope it’s right!