Oct. 9- Astorga: 20 miles, 6 1/2 hours
It’s a long walk today, but swapping stories with our friends from Utah and New Hampshire makes the day fly by.
Everyone walks at their own pace, stops at different towns along the way and may take a rest day. When you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while, you are so happy to reconnect. There is such a wonderful feeling of camaraderie, but it’s all in the moment. You can have an intensely personal conversation with someone, then never see them again. It is said that the Camino provides; sometimes you find that a stranger’s words were just what you were searching for all along.
We follow the signs to the old city and finally find our hotel called Descansa Wendy. It’s a lovely guesthouse. The table is already set for breakfast in the sun room with blue and white china on a white linen tablecloth and the menu sounds great.
We run into our California friend on the street and she joins us for dinner.
Oct. 10- Rabanal del Camino: 13 miles, 4 1/2 hours
It’s cold this morning- 45 degrees, but once the sun comes up, we take off our jackets.
We run into a big group that we know, including some from Australia that we had lost track of. We all stop to see a lovely church and then around the next corner are surprised to see a man dressed in medieval costume with his pet hawk (photo opportunity for a donation),
Our hotel, La Posada Gaspar, is a renovated 17th century Pilgrim hostel that exudes rustic charm. There is no laundry service, so we wash our clothes and hang them on the provided line on our terrace.
Oct. 11- Molinaseca: 17 miles, 7 hours
Today we walked to the highest point: 4,600 feet! The combination of shale, boulders, loose rock and ravines made this one of the hardest walks, but the scenery was breathtaking. It was so silent and so still in the mountains. When the path narrowed to single file it seemed as if everyone stopped talking, in deference to the surroundings.
The Camino continued on the road (never calming) and it seems to last forever. Finally, we see a town in the distance and a medieval bridge. Our hotel, Hostel el Palacio, is housed in an old stone building. Large groups are already sitting outside in the sun enjoying a glass of beer or wine. We join them and toast that the day was a success.
Oct. 12- Villafranca del Bierzo: 19 miles, 7 hours
We start the day stressed. We decide to walk through town today, but it is not well marked. We’re losing time, stopping to constantly check the map.
We’re walking through the town of Cacabelos and I stop to admire a lovely courtyard. A woman on the street says that it is a restaurant whose tradition it is to serve Pilgrims a glass of wine. She insists we follow her and introduces us. We thank her and she gives me a hug. We sit in the courtyard, enjoy the wine and listen to the live music.
Once again, our hotel is at the end of town (more of a trip now, but less tomorrow morning). We ring the bell at the Casa Leo B&B, but no one answers. Frustrated, we head back to town and ask in a bar is they will call for us.
We head back once again and this time Señora answers the door right away and escorts us upstairs. We feel as if we are staying with our grandmother. We have the whole living room to ourselves and watch Spanish TV. The big news is that there are rainstorms and floods all over Spain.