To Astorga

21.08.08 Thursday.

Villadangos dal Paramo to Astorga.

Hurray! Hurray! The end of the ‘bleak plateau’. The day began as many at 0530 in the dark along a main road out of town, flat and tedious with wincing from those in the party with problems in the foot department. It was light before we reached our first stop, the bridge over the river Orbigo. This magnificent structure of 19 arches covering the western flood plain as well as the river at this time of year is the longest bridge on the Camino. Reputedly the site of a month long jousting tournament in 1434 and by the standards of the time was a huge event ‘breaking 300 lances and leaving one combatant dead’. The winners clubbed together and bought a necklace of gold that supposedly still adorns a statue of St James in Compostella, we shall soon see. From our perspective there was breakfast at the far end.
We left Richard to complete this section at his own pace, his legs still giving some trouble but improving after anti-inflammatories and massage by Tim. Ray has recovered and was as sprightly as an antelope as we topped the rise at the cross of Santo Toribio to overlook not only the small basin of the river Luerto in which lies Astorga but also a view of the mountains of Galicia having completed 30km in 6 hours.
Astorga is a nice sized city being large enough for reasonable shops but without a huge suburb to walk through. The municipal albergue is excellent and we have a four bed room to ourselves that we share with Richard when he arrives about 45mins later. He is in reasonable shape but intends to finish his pilgrimage next year, and so he and Ray will return to the real world tomorrow while we continue in our trance like state towards Santiago and our final destination at the end of the world.
Ray’s bit When 5.30 am comes around and we say au revoir to nos copains de la camino, it will be with some regret that we will not be going up into the hills but instead going back to bed for a later breakfast but heh that’s life. It has been great to be part of the trip and have a few stamps in my pilgrim passport but ultimately its not some thing I feel the need to do, although I can see the daily routine has a seductive quality all of it’s own. Buen Camino!

Link to where we are on Google Maps