We have been away for 3 weeks. I am missing the kids, Dee has persistent knee and foot pain, blisters appear overnight and ibuprofen accompanies each meal. It sounds as though we are doing it tough, and physically we are. What keeps us going? Apart from the fact that we are two stubborn individuals, we are experiencing a most remarkable journey. Try to ignore all the remarks you might encounter regarding spiritual aspects of the camino. Each person has a unique experience of self discovery, of that I am sure. However, to discover and experience such exquisite , artistic beauty, each day, that for me makes the physical hardship worth it. Somehow you feel deserving. That’s my take on it. I’ll let Dee speak for herself.
We sleep in,take it slow into the day, pack and head down for coffee. The Gaudi palace opens at 11 so we get provisions before seeing the sights. As you might expect from Gaudi , the unexpected is everywhere, indescribable beauty and quirkiness. Arches and curves dominant. Stained glass with a more contemporary look. The remnants of Roman occupation on display in the basement. A contemporary exhibition of paintings on one floor and the obligatory religious iconography everywhere. our experience tainted by an overzealous “guardian” of the palace who insists that I don’t photograph any architectural features in spite of the fact that others are allowed to. She follows our every step and I cannot help but tell her I dislike her intensely and that she should have better things to do. Obviously she doesn’t. Next stop the Catedral Astorga, it is closed, we decide to leave. 4km out of town we reach Murias de Rechivaldo and two kms on we detour to Castrillo de los Polvazares where we decide to stop and look around one of Spain’s authentic pueblos, completely built of stone and timber in the traditional way.
Once a mule driving town it is absolutely amazing and a welcome solace from the bustle of the camino. We lunch in a paddock, have siesta, and wait for the town to awaken. it’s only trade now is tourism and for a Friday it is really quiet. Bars and restaurants threaten to open as we wander through the streets greeting the few locals who are out and about. We have drinks and learn a little about the town from the barman who speaks some English and head back to our gorgeous hotel for a simple dinner of salad and cured meat – the restaurant isn’t open but the hospitality is very warming and the husband and wife team who run it are delightful. As we leave they ask us what time we would like breakfast and provide quite a spread of fresh orange juice, espresso coffee, toast with local honey & jams, and a sweet cake for 2.5E. It was a lovely detour and not on the official camino route which awaits us now.
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