Madrid Camino Day 19 – San Martin to Astorga

May 24, 2017

Legendary bridge at Hospital de Orbigo

Today’s 23 kms was mostly along highways and wide dirt roads crowded with pilgrims. Startling how anyone could say they’d had any kind of contemplative experience on this section of the route – it seems all about the social aspect, not the communion with nature or the spiritual. I really didn’t expect this. Biting my tongue all day. The bridge at Hospital de Orbigo however, was a definite highlight.

I dutifully walked in the high heat and burning sun, making the best of it, being cheerful and as sociable as I could, then, at the end of the day, after witnessing an ugly race for the remaining available beds at the already overcrowded albergues in Astorga, I marched straight to the main Plaza and checked into the best hotel in town. Culture shock drove me to it.

58€ for a huge single room – double bed, TV, fluffy towels, massive bathroom, air conditioning, dinner and breakfast included. Done. Not long after settling in and completing my ablutions, I saw pilgrims in the Plaza below spending money on dinner and drinks. I didn’t feel bad at all.

The long soak in the tub alone was worth it.

Roman mosaic excavation as you enter Astorga

Saw some interesting Roman ruins on the way into town – including a magnificent 2,000 year old mosaic uncovered as they were doing infrastructure repairs. I had a good long look at Gaudi’s famous Episcopal Palace by the light of the rising sun and walked across another beautiful bridge on the way out of town. A perfect looking day.

One of the hundreds of fascinating historical monuments along the Camino

Looks like another long, hot walk before climbing into the mountains of Galicia, where it ought to cool off. Astorga proved to be a wonderfully refreshing rest stop, one I will long remember.