Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Astorga In The Rain

The night went well, I had borrowed a USB cable from Belgian Chris, so I could listen to my Ipod again, nice! I have this wonderful, calming music that blocks out the noise and encourages relaxation and sleep that I like to listen to at night. Chris and his friend are doing the Camino on kick bikes - it's a first, and it has made them quite famous!
It was raining as we set out in the morning, but with my rain gear on, I still enjoyed the walk through the changing landscape, which was getting more varied with trees and hills, and I got a glimpse of distant mountains as the sky cleared a bit in the horizon.
The last 2-3 km in to Astorga were long and boring, but I found the albergue after asking a few times. It was right by the beautiful Cathedral and the Gaudi Palacio. The albergue does not compare to the last one at all, it's very crowded and the wardens are not friendly at all, but I will make due - after all it's just one night, and then I will be off again.
The German lady Birgit was so disgusted she moved over to another albergue, but I had already gotten settled and unpacked and didn't feel like packing up again - once a day is enough for me! At least I had a single bed, not a bunk, albeit right by the stairs, which proved to be a very noisy place. It's a very old building and the bathrooms were downstairs, and lots of people seemed to have to go all during the night! In one of the bunk beds right across from my bed I saw the older German couple I met a while back - so nice to see them again! Then I saw Manuela from Hungary and also Lola from Mexico - lots of dear familiar faces!
I walked around a bit, wanting to check out the cathedral and the Gaudi Palacio with the museum, but unfortunately both were closed. Then I met the Japanese guy I had had dinner with a few days ago, and stopped to catch up with him. The poor guy had been bitten all over his neck, face and arms by bedbugs, so tonight he was staying at a hotel instead of the albergue. I felt so bad for him, I knew the misery he was going through! Then I went to the Gaudi restaurant's bar and had a glass of wine, wrote my notes and painted until it was 8 PM and time for dinner. - The Danish woman I had met down by the computer was having dinner, and she waved me over, so we could eat together and soon after the young German woman I had met earlier showed up, so we sat together, and had a nice time in spite of the very unfriendly service!
The Gaudi restaurant is supposed to be the finest Astorga has to offer, and they give pilgrim's staying at the albergue where Danish Vihar and I were staying a special card, which entitled us to a pilgrim's dinner for 10 Euros, so our German companion had to pay 3 Euros more for the exact same dinner, even though she was staying at the hotel.
The unfriendliness of the wait staff sure made you feel that they really, really didn't want our business - and the food was no better than in any of the restaurants and cafes I had eaten in along the way, often for less. The Gaudi definitely gets the "thumbs down" from me!
As I had suspected, it was a very noisy night, not much sleep to be had!

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