In the dark days of the Meseta, it was easy forget the camino. It had become a dusty barren trail, most of our compatriots had vanished and the food was just awful. We had forgotten about comradeship, the pilgrimage, food and views.
This lingered into Leon, so we left early. Being in Astorga, the bad days have been forgotten. We realise lots of people have been ill or using wheels or both. We are becoming reunited, it feels like a camino again. We have lingered in Astorgia for another day as it is such a nice little town. It has the mandatory cathedral and a rather strange Gaudi bishops palace that was never used but stands in its full glory. More importantly it has a prosperous busy air and very good food. The weather has also improved today, no rain and warmer.
The nuns don't provide breakfast so I quite fancied hot chocolate and churros. Both are served in a unique way and we are in chocolate town so no trouble finding what I was looking for. Astorga is for opaque reasons, the historic centre of the Spanish chocolate industry. Cadbury's it is not, the hot chocolate is what it says it is. Chocolate that is hot. It is thick, extremely filling and not to be drunk lightly, one a day would constitute a major health hazard. Luckily the churros (a Spanish favourite) come to the rescue. Long thin sausages of serrated dough deep fried and covered in sugar, thus ensuring this has to be the most unhealthy breakfast. Churros need to be served hot and fresh, but today's offering was possibly an hour old so a little disappointing, oh well.
Astorga marks the point where the Meseta is dead and buried. We have a 550m climb all day tomorrow. We may stop before the top at a small settlement, or go over the top. The guidebook comfortingly informs us that should we flag in the perpetual cold mantle of foggy rain there is a small welcoming Albergue. It has no heating, no food, cold showers and an outside kitchen. Knowing there is backup like that available we will probably reign ourselves in and stop short. Discretion and all that.
We have used the day for some sight seeing, a luxurious afternoon kip and shopping. Check out the hats. The rare camino youths shamed us into buying some more 'awesome' stylish head gear man. My most treasured acquisition is a pair of socks, words of excitement fail me but it is a great moment, putting a new pair onto the old feet. Speaking of which I have no further sufferings to report. The morning pain briefing is pretty short these days and doesn't really involve feet. The feet are holding their own, not healing as such but keeping pace with the daily punishment they receive. Not one of our four feet are very pretty.
Finally a blog comment. We really are stunned at the interest shown in our little pilgrims blog. We have had over 40 comments and more than 1400 views. This is stratospheric compared to other pilgrim blogs. I would like to say that at the moment we are fully in control of editorial content. However it would be amazing if we got some suggestions about what you would like to hear about. Also what are all you guys up to. Put some stuff in comments relating to what is going on at home, any input is exciting to us. So any suggestions….