After a good night’s sleep (my first for this trip) in Leon, we walked along an extremely mind-numbing and slightly depressing part of the Way to Villadangos del Paramo. Walking alongside the highway in the hot sun, with no real landmarks along the way, I was hit with a new physical challenge: a crippling pain in my right shin that was so intense it stopped me from taking a step on a few occasions.
As I lagged far behind the rest of the group and there was no one in sight – ahead or behind – I switched between anger and sadness and disappointment at my new malady. I don’t recall ever experiencing pain like it (although I’m sure it can’t compare on the pain scale, it did make think of the amazing mothers out there). I may have even started shouting like a mad woman, but as there were no witnesses, it doesn’t count. I’m not used to my body letting me down (but, of course, my body is not used to me trying to kill it by walking across Spain), so I’m still a bit shocked by it all. But then after a short rest and a painkiller, I just focussed on one step at a time. And with that, I got to our destination. An albergue atop a grassy knoll alongside a major highway.
Dave and Andy made us another delicious lunch and we spent the afternoon chillaxing on the front lawn, watching the cars and trucks go past. Yes, really. It was not a happening town, especially on a Sunday. But Chris had some amazing Lindt dark chocolate with strawberry and that made everything seem alright.
I wasn’t sure how my leg would go on our 21st day of walking, but after a night’s rest, it seemed ok and we set off for Astorga. I had decided to take a rest day in Astorga, as it sounded like a nice town of around 12,000 peeps. Oh, and apparently it’s the chocolate capital of Spain. Andy had picked up a tummy bug, so he was happy to stop too, as were Chris and Steph. Sadly, Dave decided to push on, so our group is down to four…for now, anyway!
After a tough walking day, we picked a great place to stop – a lovely town with a beautiful square, pilgrims a-plenty…and a 4 star spa hotel, where we spent our 21st night on the Camino in style. It’s amazing how we have become so used to having so little – our eyes were wide as we checked out our palace and enjoyed the town, knowing that a 10pm curfew, snoring, a 5.45am wake up and the rustling of plastic bags weren’t on the agenda. It was magical.
We slept in and this morning enjoyed our breakfast buffet. ALL of the breakfast buffet. So nice to just relax and enjoy each other’s company and the little luxuries that we’ve not had these past weeks. 4 star pilgrims, baby!
Today we have spent day 22 here in Astorga, enjoying a leisurely morning wandering around the busy markets that took over the town (lots of different food stalls & trucks, plus clothes, curtains and the usual range of crappy crap that must be sold at every market around the world), then a late lunchtime picnic in the park, followed by a visit to the incredible Palacio designed by Gaudi and the cathedral (which was impressive, but the Gaudi was AMAZING).
We have tried a small amount of the chocolate that the area is famous for – tried to work out if we could leave clothes from our packs to take more chocolate for the road, but guess that doesn’t make much sense. OR DOES IT?
Anyways, onwards and upwards for this gang of four tomorrow (literally, as we’re approaching the highest point of our journey) – we’re feeling very relaxed and I’m so glad we took a day out here to really enjoy it. To help us ‘flash-packers’ transition from the hotel, at least we have our own four person room in this dorm. Four persons – and hopefully no biting bugs. (After munching on only me in our group til this point, they have now taken a shine to Andy and started chomping his fine German skin – luckily my pack is now full of all the medicines we’ll ever need!)
And with that, goodbye from Astorga!