It’s a strange feeling walking through an unfamiliar landscape on the way to such a familiar place – I have started in Astorga four times, the Scouse Spouse twice. We were excited to get there and also possibly even more aware of our surroundings because it was the last bit of the unknown. I remembered a few things from 2012, like the always well dressed peregrino in the dry, desert like landscape on the way to Astorga – I wonder who his wardrobe manager is?
It looks almost lunar, so dry and so strangely beautiful.
And of course David’s Casa del Dioses, the house of the gods, which had grown since I last saw it. There was a large well kept garden and tired and happy pilgrims rested on low benches and cushions helping themselves to fresh fruit and cold drinks for a donation. David wasn’t there, but his caretaker was stamping credencials like it was going out of fashion.
Again we chose not to stop; it was getting hot already and we wanted to get to Astorga to celebrate Scouse Spouse’s first ‘whole’ camino! He started in Astorga on our honeymoon in 2015, so when we got there he would have walked from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, albeit in stages. Surely that was worth a celebration!
We came to the top of the hill, and there she was:
When we got back into civilisation below the hill, we sat down to enjoy some refreshments in the shade alongside all the other pilgrims. The Scouse Spouse was glad of the rest, because his foot was hurting. Hopefully it was just a matter of loosening the laces a bit to let the foot expand, so we adjusted accordingly before we set off on the last stretch for the day.
The walk into Astorga is via a loong and windy wheelchair friendly ramp which feels like it takes forever, so we tried to be clever and avoid it by following the road instead. Unfortunately we still ended up on the ramp contraption – that’ll teach us.
Another famous statue on the camino, the man with the suitcase outside the Siervas de María albergue, hands down the best albergue in town.
We weren’t staying in the albergue though, we were in the Hotel Gaudí, just opposite Gaudí’s Bishop’s Palace near the church. (Forgot to take a photo, so borrowed this from the hotel’s website – the hotel is just on the left of the edge of the picture.) We have stayed there before and once we were lucky enough to get a room with a view of the Palace! Not this time though. After checking in, we went to the church info/shop to buy more credencials and ended up having a celebratory drink and tapas on the square while we admired the Palace with other happy pilgrims, some of them fresh from the bus.
Afterwards we went back to the main square to people watch and enjoy a meal at the hotel we stayed at for our honeymoon, the Astur Plaza. It was still so hot we had our celebratory meal outside under parasols and stayed there until it was time to get back to bed. There was definitely a sense of accomplishment for the Scouse Spouse, and also for me, as it marked the end of the stages I had forgotten and tomorrow I would be back in very familiar territory where we both have happy memories.