Sun 11 Oct - Day 27: Villavante to Astorga 22km

524km walked. 261km left to walk. 

2/3 done. 22 stages of 33 completed. The blue dot shows where Astorga is. Getting there :-)
Well, today's forecasted and expected rain did not eventuate during the walking period to midday. Not a single drop. Although it clearly had been raining over night or not very long ago. Mud was the name of the game. And a reasonably good and different "menú del día" in Astorga. For only 9€. 

Sure, no rain in the morning but pretty dark. Time now would be after 8am. An empty semi dark freeway this Sunday morning.  
Confusion reigns below. Puente de Orbigo, the bridge leading to the township of Hospital de Orbigo is apparently a "must see". According to the guide book, it is "one of the longest and best preserved medieval bridges in Spain dating from the 13th century and built over an earlier Roman bridge". 

But which way to go? Straight or left. 

I had joined forces from the hostel in Villamente with "Isle of Skye 3" and we stood here puzzled for some time while referring to the guide book. 
The additional road markings didn't help. Note the words "false" on both lower arrows. 
We went left, while "Korea 3", another familiar pilgrim team for those of you who regularly read my blog, went straight ahead. I think that in the end, both ways  eventually took you to the "Puente de Obrigo" bridge as the "Korea 3" team turned up there a bit later.  

The bridge was amazing. Very impressive. 
Here I am, grinning like an idiot on Puente de Obrigo. 
Views from the bridge down to the water. 
Puente de Obrigo as you approach it. On this gloomy morning. But no rain. 
The bridge from the other, western, side. Equally impressive. 
Below is a sign with a bit of spiel on Puente de Obrigo. In Spanish. For those of you who know the language or for those patient enough to translate it all and then understand it. 
After joining "Isle of Skye 3" for a coffee
and tortilla breakfast at a cafe in Hospital de Orbigo, with views over the bridge, I said goodbye to them and walked on while they were still finishing their brekkie. 

I left town at the same time as the guy below. 
That works too. Maybe. The Camino attracts a lot of eccentrics too. 

More choices abound of how to get to Astorga. It was either 15km along the road or 16km the scenic route. The longer scenic route had a couple of small settlements where one could seek refuge should the weather go bad. 

Easy. I will avoid walking along the road if I can. Scenic road it was for me.  
Well, I hadn't thought about mud. Lots of it. A fair stretch of the scenic route was along more half completed roads. That meant that earth had been moved, flattened and left there, incomplete and unfinished. The earth of course will become mud during rain. As we have had here. 

A few highlights along the scenic road to Astorga. 

Walking through a farm where this cute calf was housed in his own shelter. 
Another Camino memorial of sorts. 
The bloke to the right above now from the front. 
Suddenly there was a donativo pit stop similar to what I encountered yesterday. 
I treated myself to a cup of hot instant coffee in exchange for some coins. 

The volunteers had a warmed up small tent and they used the heater in there to boil eggs.  
Outside there was a circular path to gold. Of sorts. It is probably not visible in the photo but there were lots of coins throughout and inside the spiral. 
Suddenly a cross appeared and Astorga town was visible down there in the distance. There is another small town just before Astorga called San Justo de la Vega. 
On approach to Astorga one had to negotiate this elaborate construction. It looked like a giant labyrinth game with pilgrims walking up and down in various places. Why is it there?
Aha! The old railway crossing has been cut off. Vehicles driving across there was no longer possible and pedestrians had to use that bridge if they wanted to get to the other side. 

I suppose that there had been a few pilgrim near misses or perhaps worse when the Renff, Spain's fast speed trains, was going through town. The railway tracks looked new and well maintained.  
Today's albergue was called St Javier is close to Astorga Cathedral. Old and pokey with many rooms. And with a reputation for bed bugs I heard later. 

And yes, both "Isle of Skye 3" and "Korea 3" turned up later. The last group housed themselves in the same room as me. 
Astorga Cathedral. No I didn't go in there either. Burgos Cathedral was enough. I didn't "do" Leon Cathedral either. 
After finding a bed inside the albergue and having that mandatory post walking shower, I wandered out for a "menú del día". I found it in this place called Cubasol, just off Plaza Espana. 
Cubasol was just a pub really but they were advertising menu of the day for 9€. And people were eating there as well as drinking. 
Good choice by me. My Primero was Sopa de Pescado. Fish soup. Different and very yummy. 
Segundo was tuna cutlet. With chips AND salad. Usually one or the other. Chips if you don't express a preference. 
Postre was tiramisu. They do pretty good tiramisu in Spain. 
All that tasty food and 375ml vino Tinto later, full of food and wine, and I wandered back to St Javier hostel for some blogging and down time. 
I did a rudimentary clean up of mud at the bottom of my pants and then hang them, and my towel and undies outside as per below. Off the "balcony" which was off the room I was staying in at St Javier hostel. 
Eventually, the rain eventuated as I did just hang around the hostel for the rest of the day. 

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