Day 15, Oct 13: Leon to Astorga, 29mi

I was so refreshed from my stay in Leon and day off from walking, that I truly was excited to get back out on the Camino today.  I still took my time getting up and re-packing, and again having breakfast in the hotel cafe because yesterday it was so enjoyable and convenient.  Today I had 2 churros, which is basically a short length of fried dough.  Breakfast of Champions.  I have never liked the churros I’ve had in the US, usually found at amusement parks and fairs – they are super-fried and very sweet.  First of all, these were not very big so I didn’t feel gross after consuming them.  They were definitely fried but not dripping with grease, and only slighlty sweetened with a little sugar sprinkled on top.  They were perfect with coffee.

It was almost 10am when I was truly done in Leon and out walking today.  The sky was a brilliant blue with a slighltly cool breeze, refreshed after the rain.  I walked for at least 2 hours just loving the outdoor air and reminiscing about my day in Leon.

I had a couple different plans for walking distances today, depending on how things go – as per usual.  Because the day was so lovely and because I was refreshed, I had a really great walking pace today and didnt feel fatigued.

It was a good day for thinking; today after reminising I just let thoughts come and go and really got to experience some things coming together for me which gave me a great peace.  I was so excited and thankful for this; some of the topics I’ve been pondering do not get solved in a day, or two, or two weeks (which it is today – 2 weeks since I began walking in St Jean Pied de Port), or even in years.  I did not feel like I completely resolved these things, but for the first time really truly felt some piece-mealed thoughts joining together and settling into my soul.  This is exactly the kind of thing that I have never, I truly think never, have made the time and mental space to happen.  I have always moved forward – physically, mentally, and emotionally, so quickly that I haven’t made enough time to process decisions and actions I’ve taken.

I wasn’t getting down on myself for my past ways, rather, I was celebrating feeling like I am actually making some new mental pathways and putting into practice some ways of thinking and being that are new, and necessary, to me.

I walked and walked, letting the thoughts come and build.  I prayed and listened.  Time passed.  I stopped for a quick lunch of cheese, bread, and veggies that I had packed.  It was getting later in the afternoon, and I decided my stopping place would be a small suburb of the large city Astorga which I would walk into tomorrow.

I passed a monument called the Cruceiro Santo Toribio, which is a stone cross commemorating the 5th century Bishop Toribio of Astorga who supposedly fell to his knees here in a final farewell having been banished from the town (source:  Brierly guide). There were small stones piled all around the base of the cross.  The sus was still fairly high in the sky, casting wonderful light on this monument, even though it was nearing 6pm.  I was very moved by the monument and the light in this moment, especially considering the thoughts I’d been having during my walk today and the peace I was feeling.

I had brought a small stone in my backpack from home.  The significance of the stone is to represent a “burden” one is carrying.  I had read before my trip that there is a very special iron cross called the Puerto Irago Cruz de Ferro (which I will come across in the next couple days) where pilgrims lay a stone (their “burden”) which may have been carried all the way from their home.  So I had brought this small rock for that.

Right now, I was moved to lay my “burden” right here.  I will visit the Cruz de Ferro, and perhaps leave another stone there, but right here and right now, at 6pm after almost the end of a long walk, by myself in the sunshine, I would lay this burden and give so much thanks for the actual lightness in my soul.

Cruceiro Santo Toribio, where I laid my little stone "burden" today, brought from home.

Cruceiro Santo Toribio, where I laid my little stone “burden” today, brought from home.

Just down the hill from this monument was the town in which I wanted to stop, a suburb of larger city Astorga.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find the albergue that was listed in my guidebook and when I asked a woman on the street she said she thought it wasn’t there anymore.  She said  ”just walk to Astorga, there are many there and it’s 3k more”.  It was 6:10 and I wanted to be done walking, but it looked like I didn’t have a choice.  I did have plenty of time before the sun set, so off I went.

I walked into the Albergue Siervas de Maria, a very nice and clean facility, at 6:45.  I was so thankful to be there, sunk into a chair, and checked in with my pilgrim’s “credencial”, which is the passbook I got on the first day in St Jean.  Every albergue or hotel or anywhere I stay along the Camino checks your pilgrim’s passport/credencial and stamps it with their own unique stamp.  You can also get stamps from churches and even some cafes.  It forms a beautiful keepsake when your Camino is done, to look back on all the stamps and remember the places you stayed.

After a shower, I slowly walked to the nearby Plaza San Francisco (beautiful, and hopping with life at 8pm!) for dinner, which I inhaled!  They had one of the best salads I’d seen, so I ordered two!  And pork with red peppers.  For dessert, their house-made Arroz con Leche, a thick and sweet rice pudding, was to die for.

I was grateful for this meal, for my beautiful day – weather and soul-experience – and for my bunkbed at the albergue which I sank into at 10pm and slept deeply.

Churros, "cornbread", and coffee for breakfast.  Carbs-much?  Haha!  Just take a long walk after and you'll feel fine :)

Churros, “cornbread”, and coffee for breakfast. Carbs-much? Haha! Just take a long walk after and you’ll feel fine :)

A fresh sky after the rainy days; this day was divine.

A fresh sky after the rainy days; this day was divine.


Nature lovingly surrounding this simple sign of God's love and sacrifice of his son.

Nature lovingly surrounding this simple sign of God’s love and sacrifice of his son.

My stone.

My stone.


Many cafes and restaurants offer a "Pilgrim's Meal", 3 courses including dessert, one glass of wine, and bread, usually for about 10 euros.  This was one of the most gourmet Pilgrim's Meals I've seen and it was delicious!

Many cafes and restaurants offer a “Pilgrim’s Meal”, 3 courses including dessert, one glass of wine, and bread, usually for about 10 euros. This was one of the most gourmet Pilgrim’s Meals I’ve seen and it was delicious!  Yes, those are potato chips next to the pork, strange I thought, but again, experiencing the food here is fun and interesting.




2 Responses to “Day 15, Oct 13: Leon to Astorga, 29mi”

  1. mjwynne says:

    Whitney – I am so enjoying following your walk. You are a very gifted writer and your pictures make what you write sooooo interesting. Can you believe you are over 1/2 way? I’m so glad in general you are having good weather. Loved the morning that it was raining and you crawled in for another 1/2 hour. I can only imagine how hard it was to get up and out even then. You deserve a big gold star. We miss you at classes but know this will be an experience of a lifetime for you. Glad you will be back in a few weeks. Madelyn

    • admin says:

      Hi Madelynn! THANK YOU for such a wonderful response, it really warmed my heart. I absolutely love writing these blogs and sharing my experiences with whomever wants to read them. So glad you’re enjoying and thanks for the kind words. I’m so grateful for this trip – it’s better than I could have expected. I do miss you all at Fraiser, though, I do! You’re very special to me. Love,Whitney

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