The Lavender Walk

Day 23

So the cathedral in Astorga was pretty impressive.  It was worth the small price of admission to see.  There are a couple of other buildings in the complex that are worth seeing, too.  Some of these buildings were designed by Gaudi the artist… and reflect his vision.

Today was another good walking day.  21 km from Astorga to Rabanal.  The first stretch was along the N-120, which was not busy, then turned and went along local and farm roads to the destination.

Breakfast was at 7, so I was up early and mostly packed before breakfast.  Then on the road by 8.  I made a couple of stops today along the way for morning snack, water, and lunch, but still arrived at the small hotel/hostel by 1:30.  A somewhat leisurely day.

It was about 1 km from the city limits of Astorga that the scenery became more wooded with spring flowers.  Best of all, the lavender was out in bloom – it’s seemingly wild here and the color just makes the walk that much nicer.  This is a nice stretch of Camino and is more along the lines of what we saw during the first few stages.  The mountains help that impression.

 I ran across several folks today that I’ve seen and gotten to know, including my German friend with whom we regularly cross paths.  He thinks it funny (and so do I) to the point where he wanted another selfie of the two of us because he didn’t think folks would believe him.

Rabanal is early in the roughly 600 meter climb to the top of the mountain as I’d rather climb it in the morning (the path will be downhill after about 15 km tomorrow, and the downhill will be steeper than the uphill).  

I like the Posada (inn) in which I’m staying tonight. The room isn’t particularly fancy, but is well provisioned and the woman running the place works hard and cares for the customers.  There is a restaurant, and the Posada has a washer for 5 euro, which I took advantage of (a washer spins more water out of the clothes and they dry much faster).  It’s about perfect for an overnight stay on the Camino.  I was able to enjoy a sangria and dark chocolate bar outside (burning 3000-4000 calories a day makes me a little less concerned about the calories eaten) and came in when a few drops of rain fell.

They also have the right attitude: the house rules say “stress is forbidden”.  I love it.  That’s something I will long remember.

I mentioned before how dry it’s been and how that’s hurting the crops.  The rain is sparse and light.  We might get more on Saturday – I’ll be another 80-100 km down the road by that time.  Still, the effects of the weather are visible.

I’ve noticed on this journey that I tend to get chilly after showering and resting post-hike.  That may just be cooling down or it may be that the walking lowers blood pressure.  Either way, it make me glad I brought fleece pants and long sleeve shirts.  The sun is bright and hot, so the long sleeves also help reduce sun exposure – and I slather exposed skin with sunblock.  I’m very glad for moisture wicking clothes.

I passed the marker saying that there are 250 km left.  I should be down to about 215-220 by the end of tomorrow.

Because the Camino is so busy, I’ve booked all but one night (plus Santiago) so far.  I’ll book the rest tonight or tomorrow.  One of the folks I saw today (from Minnesota) found that even calling ahead all the albergues in his desired stopping point were full for tonight.  And we are still not in the most crowded/“touristy” stretch yet.  The trail doesn’t seem quite as crowded right now, compared to some earlier stretches, but that may just be my imagination.  Others report that it’s more crowded ahead.

Right now, we’re looking at arriving in Santiago on the 13th, which would be a Saturday. 10 days left of walking. It is my hope that a group of us that have gotten to know each other will arrive at about the same time to share the moment.  Yes, we have a ways to go, but it’s not too,early to start thinking about it.