DAY 18


SAN MARTIN DEL CAMINO – ASTORGA

14 APRIL

23.9km

Today was the last day that our little group would walk together. Gloria, Javier, Raul and his two children will stop in Astorga to continue their Camino at another time. Monica will spend the Easter weekend in Astorga, before she continues to Santiago and me and Berto will keep on walking.

It was Good Friday – Easter is celebrated in many places in the world. There were so many pilgrims on the road today; many of whom was our old Camino friends, but also some new faces we’ve not seen before … there was something special about being on the Camino during Easter weekend.

Leaving San Martin del Camino early morning – on our way to Hospital de Orbigo

It was only a short stint, about 7km, before we’ve reached Hospital de Orbigo and decided to have some coffee and sweet pastries at a café just after we’ve crossed the magnificent medieval bridge.

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One of the longest and best preserved medieval bridges in Spain, dating from the 13thcentury. This bridge takes you into Hospital de Orbigo

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Berto takes a group photo of our pilgrims in front of the Puente de Orbigo

I don’t know whether it was because it was our last day together as a group or the beautiful scenery, but later, when I think about our Camino, I always remember this day very clearly. There were days that it was great to walk alone, but then on a day like today, it was ideal to share with other pilgrims.

The road was exactly as I’ve pictured the Camino all these years. Long, winding gravel roads with almost unreal calmness and salvation.

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The beauty of the Camino – on our way to Astorga

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We’ve walked through some farms and Diego could not resist getting closer to the farm animals

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This road between Hospital de Orbigo and Astorga was pure Camino with its beautiful paths

Just before we’ve got to the cross that overlooks Astorga, we’ve stopped at, what can only be described as a “farm stall”. The owner set up this unique resting spot along the Camino where pilgrims can get something to eat and drink in exchange for a donation. Here were many pilgrims gathered together and it was great to chat and rest in nature with our Camino friends.

“Donativo” farm stall before walking into Astorga

At Cruceiro Santo Toribio, we could see Astorga in the valley. According to Brierley’s guide, this stone cross commemorating the 5thcentury Bishop Toribio of Astorga who supposedly fell to his knees here in a final farewell, having been banished from the town.

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Cruceiro Santo Toribio with Astorga in the distance

We’ve walked through a couple of small suburbs of Astorga, before we’ve got to the town itself just after 14:00. The albergue, Siervas de Maria was at the entrance of the town and we’ve decided to overnight here. It is a big municipal hostel with over 160 beds and we’ve managed (once again) to get a dorm for our little group – our last night together.

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Albergue Siervas de Maria in Plaza San Francisco

After our beds were made and we’ve had a hot shower, we’ve explored the city of Astorga. There were so many tourists in Astorga and the streets and restaurants were filled with people. One could see that it was holiday in Spain and that people from all over were celebrating Easter and a long weekend.

We’ve found a great restaurant where we had big hamburgers and even bigger beers!

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Cervezas GRANDE

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Plaza Mayor – according to Brierley’s guide, an ornate clock strikes the hour as two mechanical figures strike the central bell

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Palacio Episcopal (Gaudi)

We’ve had a last few drinks at a bar where we’ve shared our memories of the last couple of days on the Camino. Although we’ve only knew each other for 5 days, we’ve definitely shared something very special and will always remember the bond between us.

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A bunch of very special friends

Later that evening we saw the last of the processions for Easter weekend in the streets of Astorga. This continued late into the night, even after we’ve all went to bed.

Categories: Camino Frances (April 2017)

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