October 20 – Monday
25 miles! I wanted to make it to Oviedo today so I can spend the morning here and then walk just a little bit to the next albergue. There is a saying that “he who goes to Santiago without going to Oviedo is like running to the servant and ignoring the master.” The cathedral here is called San Salvador, or our savior. I arrived too late to see it today, but will go in tomorrow.
I prefer my days to start early and on flat ground. Today satisfied neither preference. We were down in a valley, so the sun was not up as early. Plus it was a bit foggy, so not really conducive to leaving early. And the day began with a nice uphill that continued off and on for about 2 miles until I was out of the valley.
I had opted out of coffee at the bar by the albergue because I wanted to get going. The guidebook had mentioned a bar/restaurant in the town at the end if t he valley, so I figured a coffee there would be a nice reward. I found the bar without hassle. It was right next to the grocery store also mentioned in the book, where we were advised to pick up snacks if desired. The only problem was that both were abandoned! Or at least the gas station was, with no pumps or anything. And the restaurant didn’t look like it had been open in quite a while.
So, I found a place to sit on the path, well out of sight of any barking dogs, and had some dried cranberries and peanuts and lots of water, then continued on. Not quite the same as coffee, but it was only about 1.5 hours to the next town where plenty of bars were open and I finally got my coffee. I also got to use the facilities and found a grocery store where I stocked up on fruit and replenished my peanut supply.
The challenging part of the walk today was definitely the first third. I wouldn’t say I coasted the rest of the way, but it wasn’t nearly as much up and down. It was mostly paved, however, which is not fun for the feet. And my left knee decided to let me know it is here today, but only a dull ache and not a sharp pain. Achyness I can live with, and totally expect, but pain is no fun, do, thank You, Jesus, for a pain-free day!
The approach into Oviedo rivals the departure from Bilbao as most unscenic. I reach Pola de Siero around 2pm, and considered that the halfway point, as the guide suggests stopping there and having a short day to Oviedo the next day. As I was following the arrows, a man who was walking in the same direction asked if I was a pilgrim and then proceeded to walk with me to the main street and point the way out of town. He said he was a pilgrim, too, and asked if I wanted the albergue or the way to Oviedo. After he pointed me in the right direction and told me where to go, he turned around and walked off somewhere else! So he went out of his way walking me to the right place and I didn’t even ask for help!
After Pola it was mostly industrial,and urban sprawl until the town before Oviedo where it became lots of car dealers and a couple of major roads and lots of trucks. I’m pretty sure I saw where I entered Oviedo, but I’m not entirely certain. And it was still nearly an hour to the cathedral and albergue! So I arrived in Oviedo around 6:15, got to the cathedral at 6:45, got a bit turned around after the cathedral, and made it to the albergue at 7:15. Since I left at 8:30 this morning, that was nearly an 11 hour day!
I am now showered and a bit rested and ready to eat something. I have some food, and it would be enough for tonight, but I haven’t had WiFi in a few days and it would be nice to update before I have tons of posts!