After 18 hours on an overnight bus the brain does not allow one to craft any special literary blog entry (not that I achieve that even with a good night’s rest!)! So here are the basic facts: we left Paris yesterday at 6pm to head to Leon – about 1150 kms by bus. Not the first long distance bus trip we have done, but most probably one of the most restful due to the fact that the bus was half full so everyone managed to stretch out on two seats and get a reasonable amount of sleep (in between the regular 3 hourly stops the bus made!). We arrived in Leon ahead of schedule at 11am, and made a quick executive decision to immediately catch a connecting bus to Astorga – a smaller town about 50km out of Leon, and the REAL starting point for our Camino Walk. On the coach trip to Astorga we caught our first glimpses of ‘pilgrims’ walking the Camino. The real reason for our trip was close to becoming a reality!
We arrived in Astorga just after 1pm, and found the albergue (pilgrim hostel) and received our first stamps in our pilgrim passports!
Right outside the albergue is a set of church bells which faithfully ring on the hour, and half hour, and quarter hours! – it is the church of St Francis of Assisi who is alleged to have come here on his pilgrimage to Santiago in 1212. These paths have been well travelled! As for the bells, I don’t think we will hear them tonight!
Astorga is a pretty town, with wonderful cathedrals and roman walls. It looks like another movie set with the Gaudi building known as the Bishops Palace rising above the ancient walls. It is now a museum to the history of the Ways de los Caminos – numerous roman roads that made their way to converge on Astorga and which formed major trade, military and pilgrim routes. So much history, so much to take in… and if the reception from the albergue is anything to go by, so much warm hospitality to receive and return. Tomorrow we are on ‘The Way’ for real. For now, it is off to catch up on sleep.
Tags: 2012, Spain 2012