The last day of walking! The route out of the city was straightforward although I was the only pilgrim around. I had eaten fruits and yogurt, and restocked on peanuts, but I was hoping for an open café too. No such luck.
About 6 km later I was walking through a village, Palacios de la Valduerna, when I heard someone call “Peregrina!” Flora lives next to the Correos and is involved in improving the pilgrim experience in her village. She offered to call and get the key so I could see the museum. Normally she would have it, but didn’t today, for some reason beyond my Spanish comprehension. I declined that, but she really wanted to give me a brochure about the village, to inform my circle of camino friends, so I went to her house for that. She offered me café, which I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) refuse! In her living room she told me about how there were fewer pilgrims this year than last (something I had heard before), and how they were going to improve the (already good) signage to direct people right by the museum. The village used to have 1000 people but is down to about 400 now. Then we went to look at the outside of the museum and church, and took a whole series of selfies and pictures of each other, with each other’s camera. Flora was very thorough.
I will try to add a scan of the brochure sometime in the future.
The rest of the walking day was a bit monotonous.
About 5 km outside of Astorga, soon after crossing the highway junctions, I lost all signage. I followed some farm tracks until a road led back to the highway. Then several km plodding on the asphalt into Astorga.
I eventually got to the now-familiar hill leading up to the Albergue Siervas de María. I had considered taking a private hotel room, but decided it would be more fitting to end my journey properly at the junction with the Camino Francés. I was glad I did.
It was interesting to observe the sudden change. The albergue was busy with people who had walked from afar, people just starting, people hobbling, people with new shoes and old dusty ones, newly formed and constantly-changing Camino families speaking various languages.
I am not a person who welcomes a lot of “communal-ness,” singalongs and group bonding exercises, and the mention of a ukulele will usually send me running with hands over my ears and eyes. It’s a long story and I blame my dear departed mother! However, when the ukulele strains of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” filtered upstairs from the gathering area, I decided to go have a closer look. The young Brazilian who carried the ukelele with him was very impressive! The instrument was passed to a young Korean who played next, also very well. The multi-national gathering of good cheer certainly illustrated the charm of the Camino Francés and reminded me that I could enjoy that again, too. In limited doses.
Someone asked me if I was sad to be leaving. I said, no, I had a good walk, I have walked into Santiago several times so I didn’t feel unfinished, one month was enough for me, I was looking forward to getting home, and I could always come back. I wished them Buen Camino.
I think that is the perfect mood to end on. I am feeling good and walking strong, with no injuries and my blisters have healed, but the body is ready for a rest day or two. I think my Spanish comprehension has improved quite a bit but my speech less so.
Thus endeth this Camino. I intend to write some summary posts, and even go back and edit my posts to be more helpful to people who are looking for information. However, don’t hold your breath!
Finally, if you are reading these through a link as my Facebook friend, and want to continue, you should follow my blog separately as I don’t intend to link so often to my Facebook account.
23 thoughts on “Day 31. La Bañeza to Astorga (23 km)”
I will miss your Camino stories Claire, but I’m happy to see you arrived in Astorga and had a nice way of saying goodbye to the Camino. Until we meet again: buen camino, wherever your road goes.
I will catch up, now, and have a look at your blog.
Claire, thank you for your blog, I will miss it, but glad to know you will be having a bit of a rest. I am thinking of part of this Camino for next year. It looks fairly flat or have I got that very wrong?
I loved the reminder photo of Astorga! Good luck for your next walk!
Yes, it is fairly flat, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to make it easy!
Bravo Peregrina Clare, and thank you for all your posts, it’s funny to see how much you had to say and share about your last day, as if you were given a burst of energy. It was a lot of fun walking in your footsteps some days behind you and checking your blog to get an idea was what was ahead of me. So, the big questions: which Camino next, and when?
Safe travels back home.
Maybe the last few days had longer posts because they were more solitary. As to what’s next, I guess spring 2018. I’m thinking of where – maybe part of Levante, or Sanabres, or something else! .
Yours ends just as mine is about to start. I have enjoyed following your journey Clare. Wishing you a safe trip home and thanks for posting.
I’ll be watching yours. (Passing the torch now!)
Well done Clare a wonderful walk and a great blog.
Thanks for the comments!
Congratulations, sounds like a great camino. Hoping to follow (some) of your footsteps this autumn
I don’t know how to send you a message, so I’m putting this here.
I have walked a number of caminos but in shorter stages of typically two weeks at a time. This has been partly due to a duff knee that gets worse the further I go. On my last camino I met a women who inspired me to walk the Via de la Plata. I’m having a knee replacement soon and I’m very keen to try and do the Via de la Plata and then the Sanabres.
I understand that the Via de la Plata is busiest in the spring and less busy in the autumn? I wanted to do it in the autumn but after reading your blog I’m concerned that it will be to quiet for me, I do want some people to be around. The women I mentioned earlier walked it in the autumn and while she walked on her own a lot of the time she met the same group of about 10 people most nights.
Your walk sounded very quiet. Was this your choice or was it just very quiet?
I loved reading your blog.
I prefer to walk on my own, and also usually prefer not to link up with the same people for weeks on end. The last few days to Astorga were solitary, but still an interesting difference. Really, the nicest part of the walk was from Merida to Salamanca. That would make a good shorter walk.
It is always such a joy to Camino vicariously, and following you on your journeys provides such a wonderful glimpse into the variations you have experienced across all your Camino routes. Thanks, Clare, for taking the time to share!
You are welcome. I appreciate the comments – they keep me motivated to post every day, even when it is delayed!
I’ve enjoyed following along and will miss the daily updates. I’m looking forward to following in your footsteps one day soon. Enjoy the trip home and rest!
Thanks! I will have to find something else to do with my time, but that won’t be hard.
Thank you for letting us follow your camino. Last spring my wife and I start to walk Via dela Plata but unfortuanatly had some injuries and had to stop in Fuente de Cantos so it was really nice you could get us up to Astorga 😉
The old Swede
If you go back and have limited time, I’d recommend the section from Merida to Salamanca.
Hi, Claire, so quickly it comes to an end. I have enjoyed your posts. One of these days we will coincide on some camino somewhere! abrazos from Laurie
I hope so!
It looks like you’ve had some amazing Camino experiences! My sister and I walked the Camino Frances in 2014. We’re working on an art project, NuestroCamino, about our journey and are looking to include stories from our fellow pilgrims. We’d love to have something from you! If you’re interested, you can find more details on http://www.heatherharrisart.com/nuestrocamino/#involve.
Really enjoyed your mix of travelog and Camino-spun philosophy. Thanks for sharing.
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