This morning started late. We stayed around and at the last minute decided to send on our bags to Astorga as someone else already had theirs sitting there waiting. There was no point ruining our miraculous recovery straight away by lugging those things another 20k. We sat a bit longer and I had an extra instant coffee and paid a couple of bills online. Anyway when we finally got away (almost 11 I think) we stopped at the first town for breakfast. Husband needed meat apparently so we had a ham and cheese sandwich each and he sliced his tomato onto it. There was a Koala hanging on the fridge so we felt quite at home.
We then had what can only be described as a quasi picnic on our way to Astorga. This consisted of semi melted cheese triangles and Powerade. I did say quasi picnic. While we were there two ladies from the Czech republic arrived with their scooters and their dogs. Their dogs had hiking boots too!
We then headed on up the track and eventually came upon a little donative fruit stall. David (or Duveed as he calls himself) has a little hangout on the way in to Astorga where he wants everyone to be happy. He had the most beautiful cold fruit – pineapple, watermelon, cherries – dark chocolate – he had some juices there he had made but the lack of washing up facilities made me a little wary of the containers they were kept in. He has lived there for 6 years apparently and is currently renovating – building some more shade for the hoards of visitors he must get every year. I asked him if he was related to Minchim at Albergue Verde as he too wanted us to be happy. “No we are very different – I do not do yoga – I just want to be at one with the universe.”
We kept passing Michelle and JC (the lobers) or rather they kept passing us (again) and we all eventually made it into Astorga very late. The Hostel was full and the lady escorted us around the corner to the convent where the nuns had double rooms only available for married couples. We walked in and were met by a Nun and a Priest and a service was underway in the little chapel to the left. I didnt look closely but the smell of incense indicated a funeral might have been underway and the smell carried itself up to the first floor where we were shown the marital suite with two single beds top to toe! We thanked the nun very much and said we would think about it – I immediately went around the corner to the Hotel Gaudi, opposite the Cathedral and Gaudi Palace and booked a double room with air con and a bath thank you very much. Husband went back and got the packs from the Albergue. The air con worked and the bath was fantastico!
We went across the road to the Cathedral and sat outside to admire – as we were sitting there the man came out and closed up shop – he told me I could attend Mass for free in the morning and see inside then – well muchas gracias senor! We then went to the palace and while the lady served someone else we walked around the shop so as not to hover. I then went to the counter and asked what time are you open til and she said “seite media” (seven thirty) and held up her watch which said precisely 19:30 – “You are too late you must come back tomorrow at diez (ten).” Her stoney black eyes confirmed she was not to be argued with. We admired that building from the outside as well! So much for site seeing in Astorga!
Fortunately my beloved had run into the Texan and the Irish couple who invited us to a restaurant they had discovered at lunch time (they always arrive early apparently). We had all met at Albergue Verde so in Camino terms we were now old friends. Kim and Carina and her Irishman were good company. We were also joined by two Icelanders. A short while later two pommies (Englishpeople) who we had met two nights before joined us. They informed us they had been locked out by Jesus. Yes thats right – they were staying at his albergue when we were there and went across the road to see some friends and when they returned, during the spectacular light show, they discovered all the gates were locked and their bags were still inside. They went back to the other albergue and paid for a double room for the night and couldnt get their packs until the morning. I’m sure you are as shocked as we were, we thought Jesus was a nice bloke too!
Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed a healthy filling burrito (unheard of in Spain) and my beloved was overwhelmed with joy with his plate of ribs. I was also introduced to the joy of a gin and tonic (okay reintroduced). To date I had obediently eaten the pilgrims menus and drank the pilgrim wine moreoften than not. A change in diet was essential and, as the weather had warmed up a gin and tonic was most welcome. We walked slowly back to our hotel (as usual) and had a great nights sleep after such a great meal.