Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Welcome to Paulina's Pension (el Camino del Norte)

Upon leaving the closed down monastery grounds early, we beelined out of Serdio.

 The hike pleasantly meandered along a river and once again we were exposed to a reference to Hawaii at a Stand Up Paddle school on the banks of a river. A sign pointing in a direction saying "Hawaii 12,399 km" was displayed along with pointing arrows to many other destinations.

After a couple of hours we saw the Austrians up ahead in Unquera and we gleefully greeted each other again. Standing with them was a Spanish man named something like "Cavi" and we learned from him at a coffee shop that a caboleta is a flaky chocolate covered pastry otherwise known as a necktie. Neither of us was sure where the Asturian border was and we were both delighted when after crossing the bridge over the River Deva that we were already in Asturias. 

There was an immediate noticeable difference in everything in this new province, ranging from the house styles which were now noticeably more colorful, to the people, who came across differently. The first part of the walk was along an ancient Roman road. After stopping off at the first Albergue that we came across to get a stamp in our Credential we passed a bus load of school children about to go on a white water rafting trip, all standing in line with their life jackets and wetsuits on.

Another noticeable feature along this portion of the trail were the presence of numerous shrines which we think are dedicated to the memory of people who had died along their pilgrimage. 

We also saw a little snake sunning itself along the path.

The "Wise Pilgrim " app took us along an alternative coastal route to gorgeous cliffs and sea caves with large and powerful blow holes which weren't blowing today as the sea was very calm. 

The trail which was thankfully now "off-road" snaked along the coast, across a lovely river towards Llanes, our destination for the day. 

Zigzagging up and down a hill with sweeping views of the gorgeous coastline below, we wound down the hill into what we thought was Llanes with weary feet and 20 miles completed for the day. 

Meandering through the village, we saw an attractive looking exterior of a Pension (which is in- between a hostel and a hotel) with a zesty elderly Spanish woman with a flair for the dramatic, sitting in front of "Paulina's Pension". This was of course Paulina herself and she was delighted when we declared that we would like to stay in her establishment for the night. Her son, Jesus, who could speak a little bit of English was incredibly kind and hospitable, doing our laundry for no extra charge and hanging it out over the street clothesline from the second floor to dry. Later, he moved the laundry to an inside clothesline situated in a "drying room", promising us that everything would be dry by morning.

Due to the fact that dinner only starts at 8-9 pm anywhere along the northern coastal belt, we bought some pan to make sandwiches with from the local small supermarket along with a bottle of Reserve Spanish red wine which was delicious. Eccentric and wonderful Paulina joined us and we tried to converse with her even though none of us could understand each other. She insisted that I write in her guest book in Spanish and when I said I couldn't she pretended to whack me with her crutch followed by loud cackling of laughter. I proceeded to write her a thank you note in Espanol with the help of "google translate" and I could tell that she absolutely loved us as she hugged me and gave me kisses. So adorable! With this we went to bed feeling very welcome and warm under a mountain of blankets at  Paulina's Pension in Cue, Asturias.

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