The distance between León and Astorga is a very clunky 54 kms or so, with Hospital de Orbigo placed at the far end, making it awkward to plan a fabulous and not too strenuous itinerary. As I am principally here to enjoy post-pandemic life, I decided to transport myself past some of the kms of asphalt drudgery leaving León – I have done them by foot before and am in no hurry to repeat them – so I got a more manageable walk to Hospital. It was nice to be back on the trail again after a rest day and I think it had done my feet the world of good.
It was a lovely day, a little cooler than it had been before León, but that just makes for more comfortable walking. I actually started out in my merino long sleeve instead of my SPF shirt – the mini heatwave was over and there was a definite autumn chill in the air.
After a good but very uneventful day I finally saw the tower just outside Hospital de Órbigo, and the angry dog wasn’t there, which was a bonus. On the way into town I met an American peregrino who asked if I could take photos of him for his sister, who was raising money for a charity helping people who lost loved ones in the 9/11 tragedy 20 years earlier. I did, and chatting to him I almost forgot to take photos myself, but here are some:
I went straight to my albergue, the highly regarded San Miguel known as ‘the arty one’. The hospitalero is the kindest, warmest host you can ever wish for, and took very good care of all his guests. Paintings and drawings by former guests cover all the walls and everywhere is spotlessly clean and well thought out. It is a veritable oasis after a long hot walk – highly recommended!
He told me the Los Angeles restaurante would be serving food if I hurried, so after a quick shower I ran off with wet hair and made the kitchen opening hours. I got the menu del dia and this was the first course:
After my meal I was sitting outside with a drink when I thought I saw a face I recognised. She was moving up the street at a fast and determined pace and my brain scrambled for her name, but too late – she disappeared into one of the other albergues opposite mine. I didn’t want to break in there after her, so instead I tried to find out where pilgrims tend to gather for their meal, but there didn’t seem to be a fixed place. I did discover that a lot of them gathered for drinks in the garden of the pizza place across the bridge though.
In the end I walked back to where I had eaten my lunch to get a light evening meal – and there she was! I had found out her name from a mutual camiga, so I approached the table and apologised for intruding, but was she who I thought she was? And she was indeed! We never really walked together but kept meeting up in a loose group of solo peregrinas six years ago and she has been coming back several times since. But how extraordinary that she walked up that road in the 20 minutes I was sitting there just people watching, and what luck it was in a town so small we would run into each other again! She invited me to join her and her husband and one of their pilgrim friends for a catch-up and general camino chat, and I enjoyed a meal with them to end the day. I even got a very bad selfie as a reminder, and went back to my albergue thinking of camino magic and other marvellous surprises.