Saturday, May 28, 2016

Guardian Angels along "The Way" (el Camino del Norte)

A steep almost vertical ascent took us out of Villaviciosa up into the clouds above the city and surrounding pasturelands after passing the split in the trail that separates the Camino Del Norte from the Camino Primitivo. We had decided to continue along the Del Norte and complete it in its entirety.

The weather report this morning had forecast widespread thunderstorms but right then it was hot. 

Along the way we met a peregrino from Hamburg and somehow he kept passing us without knowing how he had fallen behind us, so he decided that we must be wearing invisible cloaks. Up the hill we toiled seeing many day hikers walking down the hill towards us and we wondered where they had all come from.

 Finally we reached the top with spectacular views of the Picos de Europas in the distance and there was the answer to our question! A bus had taken a full load of day walkers to the top of the hill and it looked as though they were then going to walk down and be picked up somewhere.... but we were merely assuming this.

Down we plummeted to the valley floor on the other side and saw the man from Hamburg sitting at a table outside of the only tavern in the village. Upon joining him, he offered us a slice of cheese and jam he had bought from a monastery, produced by the monks. Both tasted delicious. The locals were drinking Asturian cider outside and pouring it from great heights from the bottle into the glass which is supposed to bring out the aroma. 

While we enjoyed our refreshments a man arrived on horseback and laughed heartily when his horse dropped a big load right next to the table where his friends were sitting drinking, and then trotted off again.

Just as we left the village to ascend the next hill out of town, the heavens opened up. Fortunately we already had our pack rain covers on and trekking umbrellas at hand but the rain became a torrential downpour with intense thunder and lightening and we managed to place our Frogg Togg rain ponchos on just in time. Onwards we walked through the crazy storm, keeping fairly warm and dry except for the bottom half of our legs while our shoes became soaked. This continued for about 10km into the outskirts of the city of Gijon where the man from Hamburg met up with us again and we chatted for another few kilometers. Presently we came across an Albergue but it was only 3:45pm and too early to stop, can you guess who we met here? Yes... the Austrians who gleefully greeted us along with Cavi the Spaniard. It was so much fun to see them again. 
Once we arrived at the Gijon beach front, the rain stopped and we enjoyed a late afternoon stroll along San Lorenzo Playa. 
Time was marching on and we had nowhere to stay. 

It became evident that there were no opportunities for camping anytime soon. We thought that we'd better find a room somewhere and subsequently realized that the entire town was booked out due to some kind of dance competition, expo and festival that was on this weekend. 

Not knowing what to do, we walked past a laundromat and thought that if we at least had clean dry clothes life would be bearable. While doing the laundry I checked online to see if there were any rooms in the hotel across the street but it was fully booked. I walked over there anyway to use the bathroom and just asked the receptionist on the off chance if there were any rooms. She was amazingly friendly and said that she had a "sort of" room, one that was in a little cubby hole area, tiny with no windows and kindly showed it to me. It was perfect and half the price! We got the last room in town. That's the type of experience that makes one exclaim that you have a guardian angel! Comfy, warm, dry and safe on a rainy night after 20 miles/ 32km, enjoying a glass of Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon and watching the 
European Champions League match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Mucho gracias.

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