Day Three – 25th May 2012 – El Ganso is really a town!
Astorga – Rabanal del Camino
(Feb 2013: As this is the most viewed webpage on my blog, I thought I should say hi if you are passing by. Why not follow my blog as I do plan on writing more Camino related articles before my return to Spain in May)
5.30am. I hear footsteps, plastic bags and rumaging. I wake up with the noise of creaking floorboards. It is futile trying to sleep again, so I get up and head out! I quickly learn that this is routine in the majority of albergues along the Camino.
I leave close to 7am and said goodbye to the Cathedral standing tall beside the Albergue. The sun was rising and it looked great out there. The temperature was picking up so I wanted to finish up before it got too warm. I said goodbye to Astorga and moved on, pack on bag. My feet were fine so I was delighted with that. I had intended to walk alone for the day and take everything in and that happened at the start of the morning.
Once I left Astorga, I was walking mostly on side roads, gravel tracks with golden fields around me. The skies were blue for the whole day and it felt great. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I had walked 5km or so before I reached Murias de Rechivaldo, a small hamlet with not much happening here. After a quick pit stop, I moved on. There were plenty of people on the camino this morning. I wondered to myself what it would be like in Sarria which is the favoured starting point. I was walking mostly on flat ground this day and the only thing that bothered me was the heat. For an Irishman, 35c is not something you get everyday but I enjoyed it.
An hour or so on, I met a Spanish girl from Barcelona. Maura was her name and she was the first people I stopped to talk to that day. She was walking at the same pace as me so I asked if I could tag along. We talked about everything to do with the Camino, why we are doing it, where did we both start and where are we both finishing. She had great English too. We stopped off in Santa Cataline de Somoza for some “breakfast”. Another cafe con leche later, we moved on. Before I left, I met two guys from the States, who had stayed in the Albergue in Astorga. We said hi and gave out about the floorboards before I left them at the cafe. Santa Catalina is a small hamlet, it holds a church, a number of cafes and bars and is fairly typical of the villages I would pass through. Very quiet and sleepy.
As the day went by, and after myself and Maura passed through El Ganso, we parted ways wishing each other a Buen Camino. I had not met anyone from the UK or Ireland at this stage although both Rosa and Maura met a few Irish guys early on in the trail. I thought it was strange but I’m sure I would meet me as I come closer to Sarria.
I walked alone from then on, listening to music and taking in the scenery around me. It was close to 10.30 at this stage and for the first time, it got very steep. The last 4 kms into Rabanal was all uphill and was the first test on my legs. Eventually I arrived at Rabanal del Camino after 11.30 and decided to stay in Albergue NS de Pillar. It was impossible to find but I got there in the end. €5 for the night..cheap and chearful and already much better than my stay in Astorga. Rabanal was probably the most picturesque village I had come across.
Small, and close knit. I found a spot who serves a pilgrim meal, took a wander around and planned for the next morning.
I get talking to John from Denmark who was on the Camino for his third time. A true gent. He had strong views on the EU but I was eager to change the subject. He had great tips on how to treat blisters too, rather than using Compeed. Would have been nice to see him later on in the week when I had a few. In Rabanal I had no blisters but sore muscles from the climb up. I wondered how I would feel the next day. The highlight of the day was listening to vespers in the church. Three monks wearing their habits, along with alot of the village sang for a good half hour. A good experience. Pity it was in Latin they were singing.
That night I got to sleep early. I wanted to get to Cruz de Ferro before sun rise. I set my alarm on my phone but I just knew I would be woken before it went off.