Well, after my day on the buses yesterday, I am a ´real´ pilgrim again today. I was quite glad the day never started too early though. I was in an 'overflow' room I think, with beds rather than bunks, and there were only three of us in it. One was a quiet woman and the other was a man who snored, so I had put my ear plugs in early in the night. So I never heard any of the 'early leavers' at all. It was 6.15 before I woke, and that is 'late' by pilgrim standards.
Today there was a choice at the end of Hospital de Orbigo: either you took the highway route or the back country route, and I knew that last time I loved the back country route. I loved it again today: it never disappointed!
I had breakfast at the café in Villares de Orbigo, then headed off towards the next village. The route was even prettier than I remembered from last time, and there was even quite a bit of forest I had forgotten. I loved the bit when the last uphill climb led to a red mud building ahead on the flat at the top. Last time it was scorching hot by the time I got there, but today I had my jersey on until I had nearly arrived in Astorga- amazing to have it so cold after all the very hot days we have had!
I am in the public albergue you reach once you get to the top of the hill at the end of the interminable slog into Astorga- and it is beautiful and clean. There are Japanese hospitaleros here who all seem to be multilingual- they speak Spanish and some English.
I have had a little 'explore' in the city. Saw the Roman museum and was amazed by the underground tunnel construction. Discovered that modern Astorga is a real centre for chocolate manufacturing- such a shame I don´t carry a refrigerator in my pack. Got to see Gaudi´s episcopal palace this time, and once again was amazed by his genius and the way he uses space. Bought a couple of rehydration sachets for the next time it´s very hot- so watch it be cold all the way to Santiago now!!!