El Camino de Santiago - 2017
Day 20: Villares de Órbigo to Astorga
26 Sept. Tuesday
26 Sept. Tuesday
We left the albergue at 7:30 am and began walking in the predawn light. We couldn’t get a good picture of the end of the meseta because it was too dark. We climbed a hill and looked out over the vast flatness and said, “Goodbye meseta!” It is good to be back in the hills with vistas to look forward to. A short 2.5 km walk brought us to second breakfast, or Santibanez de Valdeiglesia. Then up and down the hills we went. Near the top there is a man who lives on the camino and he offers fresh fruits to the pilgrims. His house is right there and kind of open. It is called La Casa de los Dioses (the Abode of the Gods). He is a New Age/42nd Parallel kind of guy. Just after passing his place we reached the top of the hill and could Astorga below. That was nice to see where we would be at the end of the day. As we came into the suburbs of Astorga we met a fun Irish couple that hike a part of the camino for 5 days every year. They will probably finish this year. Astorga is an ancient city up on a hill and surrounded by a big wall. There are some ruins of a Roman home with a beautiful mosaic floor. It is right in front of a church. I am glad they are trying to preserve the ancient history here. We check into a big 150+ bed albergue - Siervas de Maria, and were lucky to get a small room with just one bunk bed for 5 euros each. The bathroom is across the hall: 3 showers, 3 sinks, and 3 toilet stalls. All coed. It is not quite as comfortable as other private rooms but costs 25-35 euros less. Ironically, those mattresses on the bunkbeds were the most comfortable of all of the albergues we have stayed in! The albergue is very clean and smells good, too. The volunteers there were 3 Americans and a German. We haven’t seen any other American volunteers on the camino. We had to wait in a line to do our laundry because there were only 2 working washing machines. After we hung up the clothes we walked through Astorga to the big beautiful cathedral. We went into the gift shop, but didn’t take the cathedral tour. Next to the cathedral is the Palacio Episcopal (Camino Museum now) built by Gaudi. We took the tour of that fascinating and beautiful building. I’m not sure if someone like an archbishop lived there or what, but it doesn’t look like a house to me! It is very beautiful and ornate. Now it is home to a lot of art that refers to St. James (Santiago). High arched ceilings and stained glass windows that are different in each room. Very impressive! In the basement there were a lot of Roman artifacts, mostly stone.
We ate dinner at a bar that served pizza. It tasted really good because it wasn’t a pilgrim meal! We have to get an early start in the morning for a difficult day that is mostly uphill. Curtis’s tow is still hurting, but he trying to tough it out for 3 more days.