Up at 7am and breakfast is bran and yogurt. Not much but it beats Spanish stodge. Downstairs for a coffee and leave along the main street of Hospital d’Orbiga. The sky is clear and the day starts cool. We head off on the country route to Astorga. Dee and I are both nursing injuries and so the pace is slow early and we dawdle past farmers gathering potatoes, fields of corn and other crops we cannot recognise. After 2.5 kms we enter Villares d’Orbiga and seeing two women sitting in the sun, enjoying coffee, we decide to join them. By midday we reach Santibanez de Valdeiglesias and 500m up the road, on a small rise, there is an odd collection of peregrino objects decorating a steel sculpture. Small “shrines” are scattered everywhere. Some just smooth stones with felt pen inscriptions. We have lunch, add our token words and push on over the Crucero de Santo Toribio (905m). A slow, 2 hour descent to Astorgia, legs losing power, aches becoming pains and a walk more limp than stride, we enter Astorgia. Once a Roman strategic position, Astorga presents us with a labyrinthe of small roads and plazas. We are out on our feet and at a snail’s pace yet we manage to get to the Bishop’s Palace an outstanding modern Gothic structure designed by Antoni Gaudi, who has rapidly become my hero and inspiration.
Time for rest, beer and Pringles chips. Tourist information will not open for 1.5 hours so I head off, leaving Dee sipping vino blanco in the plaza. 45 minutes of limping about, no luck with accommodation. I get back, Dee has had another sherbet and has a wide grin on her face. I try to see the amusing side but my feet have the floor so to speak. Tourist info is no help. We opt for Hotel Gaudi, 50m away. It blows our budget but it is central, has a hot shower and we are just about over it.
Cleaned up, exhausted, hungry, thirsty and in need of clothes washing we head off. Spanish hotels do not cater for laundry and at 10-14 E per small bag, we are being ripped off. Aubergues offer laundry, however reports of bed bugs and thefts put us off for the moment. We wash and feed, head back to H. Gaudi and crash.
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