Villar de Mazarife to Astroga
Saturday 22 November
After breakfast in the downstairs bar, my Dutch friend and I continued our Camino towards Astroga. We had a fairly long walk today, more than thirty kilometers. Our first coffee stop wasn’t the best, and there was no food available. We were a little peckish, but a nearby shop provided us with some very tasty homemade tuna pastry things. The landscape was improving, but the weather was not. It was rainy, but not too cool, which mean a little sweaty in our rain gear.
Our next stop was nearing lunchtime. I wanted a snack, but wasn’t that hungry. We stopped in a bar. I wanted something cold, not sweet and not alcoholic, so thought I would try the local non alcoholic beer. It wasn’t bad, and came with tapas, as drinks in this part of Spain do. A small plate of paella. Wonderful! The best paella I’d had so far. Spicy, lots of seafood, even in the tiny tapas dish, and just the right balance of flavours. I asked if I could order a whole plate. Alas, it was only available as tapas – so I ordered another drink. My Dutch friend was still sorting out his existential crisis, and wanted more space, so left me to walk alone.
Leaving the small town, an elderly gentleman stopped me in the street and asked me to wait. He went into his house, and returned with a handful of homemade biscuits for me, wishing me Buen Camino. I love the kindness I have encountered on my way.
It was still drizzling, but I was enjoying the walk. Rocky, craggy stunted trees, we were climbing in altitude, heading into more mountainous regions. A few hours later I caught up with my friend, and we walked into Astroga together.
The Municipal alburgue at the beginning of town looked nice, but again we wanted to avoid the crowds, so walked to the other end, unsure if the other alburgue was open. It was closed. We considered sharing a hotel room, and went to the Gaudi Hotel opposite the Cathedral to enquire. They had a room, the price was reasonable. We went outside to discuss. My Camino Angel was there. She said the Municipal Alburge was nice, and she was in a room with only four people. We thought that sounded fine, and we really didn’t need to spend the money on a hotel. Walking towards the alburgue, we met some other pilgrims, who we also staying there. They said they were in a room of twelve. Mmmm, not so good. We would see.
We arrived and asked if we could have a small room. We were asked if we were a couple, then we could have a room for two. We said no, but did this room have one ore two beds? It had two. We could be a couple for tonight! Please? I promised I wouldn’t touch him. The hospitaliro opened my credential, and was very impressed that I had started my Camino in Paris. I said it wasn’t as impressive as my friend who had started in Amsterdam. She was even more impressed, then led us to our room… The room with two beds! We high fived, and I did a little jig. No snorers. Well, for me anyway, my Dutch friend informed me I do snore. Just a little.
As we had saved on the temptation of a hotel room, we decided to celebrate with a nice dinner. We wandered the town in search of a resturant. There were several, but nothing appealed. I wasn’t that fussy, but my friend was getting hungry and a cranky that we hadn’t made a decision. We thought the hotel we had visited earlier may have a nice resturant, so walked in that direction. We passed another four star hotel, and settled on that. Bad decision. We had one of the worst meals, with bad service, for the highest price yet. We resolved that later in the Camino, if we meet again we would splash out on a very nice meal together.