October 13-15, 2019
Sunday morning, huge darkly grey clouds gave excitement to our skyscape while a cold wind brought shivers and runny noses.
We were glad to reach Astorga, a crossroad of cultures since before Roman times. Our path led us past an archeological dig of a private Roman house complete with thermal baths. According to the explanatory signs, the reception room, with a mosaic of a bear and birds, tells a myth of Orpheus.
We also took an audio tour of the Astorga Cathedral.
Treasures from across the centuries were described in our ear as our eyes became dazzled. One treasure that most fascinated me was a giant book of ancient music. My imagination went into overdrive, picturing a monk bent over each page, painstakingly drawing beauty into the parchment.
This is a land of oak trees and pines, slowly rising altitude, and small birds such as chickadees and warblers. A sign informed us that crossbills were also a bird species sometimes spotted here.
The small town of Santa Catalina de Somoza brought an end to our windy walk on Sunday.
What a delight, stepping out of the wind, into the courtyard of the Hotel Rural Via Avis, a 500 year old house.
Breakfast in this ancient house was a treat – quite a change from our usual simple picnics.
The delicious food and warmth of our surroundings stayed with us as we set off into a blustery Monday.
The day passed quickly as we walked through beautiful scenery. Looming clouds kept promising rain, but hesitating, just tossing a few spattering drops our way. Finally, that afternoon, as we looked out the second story window of our hostel, rain suddenly POURED from the sky, accompanied by thunder and wildly gusting wind! I was deeply grateful to be in shelter for that short tempest.
Tuesday dawned with fresh snow on the nearby mountains!
We happily climbed towards the clouds, conscious of ice-cooled breezes urging us to pick up our pace.
The Cruz de Fierro, a well known landmark, greeted us at the highest point of today’s climb. This pole, topped with an iron cross, has marked the pass since before Roman times. For hundreds of years, pilgrims have carried a stone from their homeland and put it at the foot of this cross, leaving their metaphorical burdens with the stone.
I left a sea worn rock trapped inside a shell from the Pacific Ocean as my contribution.
We stayed at the higher altitude, enjoying scenery while keeping warmly wrapped against the icy breeze.
Clouds, however, kept getting lower, until the tops of the grasses scraped bits of fog from the sky.
I admit to being relieved when the path began losing altitude, bringing us safely to La Rosa del Agua in the small town of El Acebo de San Miguel, where we were welcomed warmly by the owner and his staff. (Hot tea and coffee were offered before we had even checked in! Now that’s hospitality to a high degree.)