Villadangos Del Paramo to Astorga
“By perseverance, the snail reached the ark”
And then Noah ate him. Only kidding. I’ve no idea whether he liked snails or not. This morning saw us make our earliest start yet, hitting the road at the record time of 07.36. With the sun not yet risen, we negotiated the extremely hairy first half mile which had to be walked on the main road, breathing in as the cars and lorries thundered past us. This was not pleasant. Fortunately the Camino track was reached within five minutes and calm was restored.
It was nice to watch the sun come up as we strolled along, gradually finding ourselves heading into the countryside and away from the noise of commuter traffic. This was very much a return to normal as far as the views were concerned, with cultivated fields, some sheep (!) lots of trees and hills in the distance. There were some haystacks for Carolyn to pour scorn upon, although we did actually see some rounded bales that she declared were “almost acceptable”. Praise indeed.
Our first town of note was called Hospital De Orbigo, which you entered by crossing a very impressive stone bridge which dates back to medieval times, when it was built over the top of the original Roman bridge. The town was the venue for 15th century jousting tournaments, to which all the top knights in Europe would flock; it was, in effect, the Champions League of jousting. Sadly there appears to be no record of a Scottish knight in the main draw, having never managed to get beyond the second stage of pre-qualifying. Four English knights, however. And four Germans. And Italians.
There is also a story of a Spanish knight, Don Suero De Quinones, who, having been scorned by a beautiful lady (i.e. dumped by his bird) got a bit irate and set about throwing down the gauntlet to any knight who dared attempt to cross the bridge. In the space of one month, knights from all over Europe (like I said, it was a happening place) flocked to the bridge to take him on, only to get battered and surrender their lance. 31 days later he had 300 lances, which were apparently sufficient to restore the nutter’s-sorry nobleman’s honour. I believe there are two conclusions we can draw from this story: (1) This guy was a hell of a fighter and did not react well to getting chucked. (2) This story was made up by some member of the local tourist board who reckoned it could work wonders for the local economy.
We have reached the city of Astorga, which is beautiful. It contains a magnificent cathedral (sounds familiar) and the Palacio Episcopal, or Bishop’s Palace, which is another building designed by none other than Antoni Gaudi. We had a look round both and were very impressed : the cathedral’s exterior is quite something, while the Gaudi building looks like a Walt Disney fairy castle! I’m sitting with a coffee typing this and looking directly at it – not the worst way to end the day.
Tomorrow we head into the mountains en route to Rabanal Del Camino. It’s shorter than today, but it’s the highest climb of the entire route. Should be interesting!
A man has just walked past with a hare on a leash……
Today’s album track is”Jilted John” by Jilted John. He knew how Don Suero felt.
Commence the climb! 🌟🌟🔜🌟🌟