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Day 10: León - Astorga

Journal

Follow here my journey and stories around the World. 

 

Day 10: León - Astorga

Ivan Blanco

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As if Galicia, my home region in Spain and host of Santiago de Compostela was anticipating our visit, another rainy day was expecting us (FYI it rains quite a lot there).

After having met Felix the day before and now joining our "Ondiñas" team, we headed for a very common morning ritual: Breakfast! After taking a pic of Leandro (check day 9 to know more) and wishing him a "buen camino", off we went to a place I spotted the day before for some great morning food; great tortilla breakfast for Felix and me, and sweeter for the girls.

Rainy Camino days

We were about to leave Leon but not before passing by its magnificent cathedral, where I took the chance to quickly grab a map of the next route in the Tourism office. A good thing I did, because at that moment the other "Ondiñas" were chatting with a fellow bike pilgrim. He was struggling to leave in the rain, so we asked him if he wanted to join us for at least the next route. So it was actually, how we met Andrew from the US who started his Camino in Paris and is right now down in Morocco! What an impressive challenge and it's not the first of his big bike adventures, stay tuned to know more.

There we were now 7 bike pilgrims from all around the World joining paths: one started in St Jean Pied de Port, three in Ordizia, one in Berlin and one in Paris. By destiny or simple coincidence, this is how we ended up being the biggest and most international bike pilgrims group on the Camino: the "Ondiñas" team! 

(check back on day 7 to learn the origin of that name)

Rain rain rain and more rain

In spite of the monotonous roads and paths that we had to face this day, our new companions and stories made it a really pleasant one, only disturbed by some heavy rain again and again. Fortunately, we didn't suffer the Apocalypse of day 8, but it was enough to get us completely soaked and finish our journey a bit earlier than usual in the charming town of Astorga. Once there and registering at the town's albergue, we started hearing a familiar voice... it was Leandro, the priest we had met in Leon!

With this re-encounter and since it was kind of late for lunch, we all went in search of the town's Supermarket to make ourselves some cheese and wine aperitif. We took quite a while to get there, because every pilgrim we crossed stopped and knew Leandro, that's what it means to be a funny and sociable priest pilgrim. Once we finally got to the supermarket, it was a GADIS, a supermarket from Galicia, my region, and full of delicious products from there. No no, don't worry, I'm not going to mention my favourite beer again, but, I will mention one of my favourite cheeses "Queso de Tetilla" (=small breast cheese). As its name indicates, its shape is a sort of cone topped by a nipple.

There's one story (of probably many), which says that its origin goes back to a monastery with one particular female statue. This female statue had obviously a female figure, but a pair of her attributes were a bit bigger than usual. To such an extent, that the monks didn't leave their eyes from her. Outraged by this situation, the Abbot decided to split the statue and only leave the head and shoulders! Deprived from the usual view, the monks simply decided to replicate the statues attributes with a new type of cheese and shape: the "Queso de Tetilla" was born! 

If true or not, this history adds a comic note to one of the best soft cheeses of Galicia that combines perfectly with Quince marmalade for both desert as an evening snack. To cheese or not to cheese, keep reading my next posts if you'd like to read more about Spanish and Galician cuisine.

Going back to the beginning of this little story, there's more to GADIS too. It might be just another supermarket to many, but their local character and promotion of Galician is remarkable. Since a few years, this compromise is best shown in ads that struck directly into the Galicians' hearts. The references and situations that are portrayed are really familiar to us; it also provokes quite a lot of homesickness to the emigrated ones. Check out the video.

Basically, after some good shopping, out we went to indulge our cheese and wine aperitif with the freshly arrived sun. This was all possible thanks to our early stop:

Eleventh recommendation for the Camino: don't rush, take your time, and enjoy the lack of stress!

Strolling around Astorga, we met the biggest backpack ever (it might have belonged to Goliath...) and to our Catalan "Ondiñas" rejoice, we came across the Episcopal Palace of Astorga, from the famous architect Gaudí. It is one of the few of his creations outside Catalunya and together with the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, is one of the most representative examples of the Catalan Modernism. That's also where we crossed again our fellow bike pilgrims from our passage in Carrión de los Condes (check day 8). So what better homage could we all do to Gaudi's work, than trying to outdo one of the most famous selfies of this year's Oscars, check the pic below. 

 

Best pilgrim selfie ever!

 

"Take that Ellen and Bradley, I've even got Gaudí in the frame!".

With, our best Pilgrim selfie ever, the last things to full fill were our stomachs, so out we went for some dinner. I indulged myself in one of my best dinners, red tuna with almond crust and another plate of "Morcilla" (check day 7), scrambled eggs and Spanish Chorizo. A great dinner finished by some wine tastings and another of my Camino Photo Interviews with Leandro, our funny priest!

Stay tuned for the next one and good night ;)