I slept barely at all last night. I got a couple of hours before 1 am and then pretty much nothing. Outside my window was a extremely noisy extractor fan which could not be disguised with talk radio, or music. Consequently I was up and out before seven this morning.
I was fortunate to have been allocated a room on my own, so I could spread my stuff around. I thought it wise to put my rucksack on the wide windowsill as I didn’t want any pesky creatures to find their way in. But annoyingly I discovered this morning that it was full of ants inside and out. So it got a pretty good shake up, shake down, and very hard bumps on the floor.
The exit from the city is very well marked. The walk out is very pleasant, firstly through the ancient quarter then moving towards an area with beautiful period buildings interspersed with less beautiful new buildings, and eventually the old buildings disappear altogether. After 4 km we are pretty much leaving city. I made a pace of 5.8 km/h which soon slowed alarmingly with the first incline.
The low morning cloud which was a constant feature of my last Camino Primitivo is already present on this one
What should be lovely tracks have sadly all been asphalted. Aah at last a dirt track at 7.5 km, though it doesn’t last long.
At around 10 km there is a truly lovely dirt track through woodland with a river running below. There are steep inclines and descents but it is so beautiful that they hardly matter – until the last climb, which was really hard.
I take my first break at 15km and sit on a stone wall to eat an apple.
A good proportion of today’s walk is on track – some very nice woodland track, some not so nice concrete track. The last section of track is alongside the wide and fast flowing river Nalón which is most pleasant
By the time I emerge from the shady woods I find the sun has put in an appearance but without the ferocity that it’s shown for the last few days, and there is also a wonderful cool light breeze.
Of course today, for many, is the start of their camino adventure. They are fresh as daisies and full of vigour. But although some have passed me en route I somehow have managed without trying to leave them all behind me. They must have stopped for a break along the way, whereas I have mostly ploughed on.
I arrived in Grado some time shortly before 13:00 and have opted to stay in the private albergue Quintana simply because of entry time. The donativo albergue does not open until 14:00 by which time many pilgrims will probably have arrived and there will be a bit of a scramble for the shower and washing machine, whereas by 13:30 I am freshly showered and my washing is in the machine. There are 12 places in bunkbeds, €14. The washing machine is a staggering €5 (normally €3.50) and if I were to use the tumble dryer they would charge an astronomical €7 (normally €3). Luckily it’s good drying weather so my smalls (and bigs) are happily dancing on the line.
What I particularly would not have liked (as anyone who has read this blog for a while would know) is the fact that the showers here (separate men’s and women’s) are communal. Three shower heads with no curtains or partitions. The shower was lovely and hot and powerful, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be joined by anyone, so it was relaxing enough, but I hate this imposed intimacy. I hated it at school and I’ve hated it ever since. Everyone should have the right to privacy. Rant for the day over!
I thought I might be alone here but when I returned from my walk there were a group of four young men and a Dutch couple.
If I wasn’t such an old woman the donativo albergue here in Grado would have been a better option. I believe it is very nice. And it is a good opportunity to meet your fellow pilgrims.
The albergue Quintana is situated in an Indiano house, examples of which we have seen all along the Camino del Norte. There is an interesting backstory to this style of house – see here.
Last time I walked straight through Grado to the lovely isolated albergue at San Juan de Villapeñada that I can highly recommend if you are in the market for an additional 4.5 km.
Having taken a stroll around the town I can report that it seems a bit sad and grubby. There are plenty of restaurants and bars and maybe a Wednesday afternoon isn’t the best time to make a judgment.
I have discovered that Deutsche Bank is the only bank that operates in Spain that does not charge an ATM cash withdrawal fee.