Friday, September 13, 2019

Off to Spain - Camino Bound

Moncton to Toronto – Long wait in the airport, this is the bad part of travelling from the Maritimes that we must put up with when you are fortunate enough to be able to travel

Toronto to Madrid – Watched the movie Grizzlies which was really good.  Wanted to just watch one movie so I could try and get some sleep.  Sat next to a man that I made a mistake of using one of the few sentences that I know in Spanish to, then was stuck with him thinking I spoke Spanish the entire rest of the flight.  Not sure why he didn’t clue in.  He was not happy with the little wine bottles you get with dinner, told me you get 1 liter in Spain.  He tried to get 3 bottles from the flight attendant, she would only give him 2, and he proceeded to drink one straight from the bottle.  A long flight it was…

Landed in Madrid and had to transfer to another terminal.  This is perhaps the longest terminal transfer I have ever done.  You used to have to take a bus in Toronto, but in Madrid I needed to take a bus that went out on the highway for a few miles to transfer.  I was transferring because the bus terminal is in the other terminal that I wanted to catch the bus from to get to the town I was starting my walk from.  Surprise, I finally find where the bus leaves from and guess who is there, yep the guy that was sitting beside me on the plane!  Fingers crossed that he does not get on the same bus as me.

I have a 2 hour wait until my bus is scheduled to leave.  The company that I had booked my walk with looked after booking my bus ticket for me.  I have a 4.5 hour bus ride, I am pretty tired now but know I must stay awake or I for sure would sleep through the bus leaving.

Didn’t take me long to fall asleep once I got on the bus.  About 30 minutes in the bus driver comes back and tells me I need to switch buses, I think we are in a big terminal in Madrid city now.  Uneventful bus ride to Astorga. It took longer than I expected, and about 30 minutes before arrival we stopped for a break, chocolate crescent for me, but I definitely would have preferred just finishing the ride.

Arrived in Astorga, used the map I have been sent that says cut through the Church for a shortcut, but then I didn’t know what to do once I exited the church grounds.  Information center right in front of me, but I don’t know the last time it was open.  A nice man stops and asks me where I am trying to go and gets me pointed in the right direction.  I am staying in a very nice boutique hotel for 2 nights.  The rest of the group I am booked with only arrive tomorrow, I wanted to get here 1 day early to try to get on the right time zone.  
Short cut through church grounds when I get out of the bus terminal, but not sure what to do after that?
I know this sign will be one I will be following the rest of the week, wishing I had a sign for my hotel here 

Map from front desk and I am off exploring.  The old town is not big at all, so I didn’t manage to get too lost.  I took a tour of the very beautiful Cathedral.  It was €3.5 to enter which included the audio guide since I am a pilgrim.  I am still moving very well at this point, not very dirty, but I guess my sandals and ballcap were a giveaway that I was walking.
Huge cathedral, this is the other side from where I was earlier today
Pictures from around the cathedral including a stop at the chapel of St. James, it is his route that we are following on this pilgrimage

Town square in old town, where I will have dinner later tonight
Mosiacs reminded me of travelling around Sicily last year
Thinking of you Andre

More exploring around town and find the chocolate factory.  There was a really good movie about how the chocolate was processed, at one point there were many chocolatiers in town.  Samples at the end, I tried a few and decided on a dark chocolate with almond bar, will think of Andre.  Will need to eat it over the next couple of days, it would melt for sure on the walk, it is very hot out. 
Mural of choclate factory in town

Start out to find somewhere for supper at about 7:30PM.  My chocolate crescent, and chocolate tasting have long gone.  I know it is early for supper here, but I am very hungry.  Front desk gives me a couple of suggestions, first one is not open yet, so settle on a table at a bar outside in the main square.  A glass of wine and what I thought was going to be a chicken burger, yuck, should have stuck with wine, no pictures taken. 

Walked around town some more after supper and found a great spot for the sunset.  I had been here earlier in the day to walk around the gardens, the view wasn’t pretty, but it was very pretty at night with the sunset.  Talked to a woman from Taiwan for a bit, she asked me to try to guess what country she was from, urgh that is tough, I didn’t get it even after a few tries.  At the chocolate factory earlier today I did speak with a group of women that were biking the camino, they said it was extremely hot today.  Most of them have assist bikes, I think that is cheating even more than the way I am doing it.  At supper I saw some much younger people that could barely walk, a little scary to see, but hopefully all my walking before I got here serves me well.  
Supper in the square
Reminded me of Venice, well only a little....
I think I will be climbing those mountains soon

Back to the hotel, found a little bulk barn type store that had licorice, not sure when they last sold licorice it was so hard, may have been there since the store opened.  So after my chicken burger and licorice I hope I do better at breakfast.

Made it to 9:45PM, very proud of myself, this is the best way for me to get on the right time zone, no napping allowed on arrival day, just explore.  Hoping that the cat outside my room stops crying, I have no recollection of this as I type my notes out, so I guess it didn’t last long…

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