Friday, July 24, 2009


Last evening I was walking in sandals and looking at the feet. Each step, the second toe of the right foot sweeps across to the right and bangs into the third toe. This is an arc of around 30 degrees! Today after walking for 14 km I had the brainwave of anchoring loosely the offending toe to the large toe with tape. Sure´nuff, it worked! Got to Astorga in good time having had two breaks. The second was for lunch with 3km to go. Bocadillo con jamon y queso. He charged 4€ which is high, but it was huge! I left one third of the bread and ate all the filling.
Walked the last bit with an Austrian woman (name?) and just loved coming up to the base of the wall with the Roman remains there including the marble worn by wheeled vehicles. We´re in a new albergue for 6€ and though I have a top bunk at least there are plenty of showers, very hot water, and lots of toilets.
At the weekend I believe there will be a jousting tournament in Hospital de Orbigo. As I passed this morning over the 13th century bridge workmen were preparing the lists and erecting stands. Apparentlysome knight was jilted so took the unusual step of issuing a challenge to all the knights of Europe. They had to fight him to cross the bridge. After 300 fights all of which he won, he removed the talisman of rejection (?) and went to Compostela. (I´ve also been told the same story about Rabanal....) Would be fun to go. (I´ve just heard that it is in early June. I should have finished the walk by then, so you never know!)
Astorga is a lovely place and the Bishop´s palace by Gaudi is an absolute highlight. I went into the cathedral museum which was little changed from 2000 except that they issued a brief guide in English. But then, there was a fabulous exhibition that extended into the cathedral which was closed for services for three months. Today I got to see the cathedral. It is true Gothic with plateresque main entrance and the usual 18th c gold and statues froth an bubble. But the shape, and the style, the height, the size of the columns! It is truly magnificent but in a simpler and less expensive style than Leon or Burgos. The centre of the church has an enclosed choir of magnificently carved timber stalls in two levels, above which is an outstanding organ with a large rank of Spanish trumpets (they stick out at right angles and are arranged in a curve with the longest pipes at the outside.) I would ove to have taken a few photos but I would have needed a tripod. There is a fine paleoChristian marble sarcophagus in the museum and I took the risk and photographed that. 310 AD! and still in fine condition.
Ate out with Jeanette and Lorna from Canada. They start walking slowly at 6am each day and have always managed to get beds. Tomorrow they are aiming to walk about 26 km but I want to stop at Rabanal for two reasons: there is a small group of monks at the church and the sing the evening service, and one of the albergues is run by the Confraternity of Saint James in England and all the hospitallers speak English. That will be a change. I was annoyed with the hospitallero today. I asked for a lower bunk and he said no, that they were allocated acording to order of arrival. An hour later he opened another room and the first peopl in got the bunk beds. Really he was just making it easy for himself. At 6€ each he´s minting it. He could have helped out an old bloke.

gotta go

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