Friday, July 30, 2021
Today I walked the 110 steps down from our 5th floor Airbnb for the last time as we headed out at 8:15 for our 2 1/2 mile walk to the bus stop. We enjoyed most of the way through the shade of a beautiful park, which was wonderful since it was already sweat worthy humid and 73 degrees!
We arrived at the bus station with only five minutes to spare and could see no identifying signage to assist us in finding our platform! There was considerable anxiety until we ultimately asked a security guard who directed us to the other end of the building! Even then there was nothing visible to assure us that we were in the right place, so we asked another persona who pointed out a tiny schedule taped to the wall! Plus one of our party could not find her passport but luckily our fearless and extremely organized leader, Michelle, had a list and that sufficed. I think that because our bus was late, the driver was motivated to just get going! We stowed our backpacks under the bus in the luggage compartment and it all worked out!
The five hour ride to Oviedo was smooth, with bucolic scenery and air conditioning! Masks were required the full time. Usually on a long bus ride there will be a stop or two at a location with a convenience store and bathrooms but not this time!!! Since no eating was allowed on the bus and we traveled until 3:30, we were getting fairly hangry…. Once we arrived at our destination (we saw ANOTHER husky dog!) we walked one kilometer to the post office to collectively mail items in one package that some of us wanted before and/or after our Camino but didn’t want as extra weight in our backpacks. Unfortunately it took a good twenty minutes because a Plan B had to be put into play. Since we finish in Santiago de Compostela on a Sunday and that Monday is a holiday, the post office will be closed and we had to use our end lodging address as recipient even though we won’t be there for two weeks. At least we had a chance to consume a few snacks!
Then we walked over to the amazing gothic cathedral of Oviedo – THE ORIGINAL STARTING POINT OF THE ORIGINAL CAMINO, The Camino Primitivo! King Alfonso II (the same guy who initiated the construction of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela to house the relics of St James) walked this route! Queen Isabella of Spain walked from there, too! I walked it in 2018 and six of our group will be walking the Primitivo starting tomorrow.
And it’s a good thing we had those delays because after walking another kilometer to our Airbnb we ended up waiting two hours to get checked in!! We never did figure out why it took so long. The maximum beds to a room was only ten but we are eleven. There was talk of moving a mattress into our room but after waiting half an hour with no conclusion, we finally left for dinner at 7:30.
Dinner was at a festive (aka: Very Loud) sidreria and we ate mass quantities of delicious food! I had an entire hake – a delicious white fish abundant in this region. With grilled veggies! It really tasted great, especially since I’d only had 4 pieces of pepperoni all day. Also abundant and a specialty to Asturias is sidra which is a cider made of crab apples . It is poured with (semi) precision by waiters with arm held high above the lowly held glasses to create a cascade of liquid that then activates the carbonation!! It’s fun to watch, everyone feels an occasional splash, the floors are sticky, it’s truly refreshing and extremely tasty!!
No mattress in the room when we returned, but since I had volunteered to be the one to be moved to a room with other unknown pilgrims, I ended up getting moved to a room by myself!! And it had its own sink, too! I really don’t like being unsettled, so leaving before knowing our sleeping situation was not sitting well with me. Hunger did override that anxiety for a bit and then my solo room was a lovely reward in the end!
Tomorrow we say Adios and Buen Camino to half the gang and the other half of us take a 45 minute train to Bellota where we will begin our walk directly after we disembark. I am very excited for this opportunity to walk the last part of the Norte route since I did the beginning portion in 2019! Looks like we will have a few days of rain now that we beat the heat of central Spain and commence our Camino from the mountainous region of beautiful Asturias in northwest Spain – known for its rugged coasts and mountains.
Today’s fun tid bit: As we walked to dinner we happened upon a wedding just concluding in the primary square and saw the bride and groom come out of the church under flutters of rose petals thrown by the onlookers to accompanying bagpipe music!