Woody is in town

Woody is in town

From the City of Art into the unknown and a ‘Fanta’ moment – I expect my walking partner to turn up just after mid-day and so I have a morning to explore this delightful city. I decide to follow the shells out of town to start with so that I will know the way tomorrow. The route takes me up past the railway and out of town through quiet suburbs. I see a hairdresser and decide on a ‘number 1’ and a shave, enjoying the ensuing conversation in half English half Spanish. My hairdresser’s English is probably a bit better than my Spanish but that is not saying much. Let’s just say she and I spent a funny half hour speaking ‘Spanglish’. I kind of understood most of what we covered!

Oviedo Cathedral

Oviedo Cathedral

On the way back to the centre I am impressed by the beautiful churches, the gardens and the surprises in the form of wonderful bronzes that might pop up out when you least expect it. At one point I think I am about to meet Woody Allen until I realise he is just a very lifelike bronze. Apparently he had done some filming in Oviedo and this is a tribute to him.

Mike arrives as planned and I leave him to settle in while I explore the old sector and the Museum of Art that is next to the Cathedral. More wonderful examples of Spanish talent through the centuries are beautifully exhibited in this ancient building.

Later Mike and I explore the Cathedral museum before heading into the old quarter for a meal of local fish and some cider poured from a great height by macho waiters who don’t seem to mind pouring most of our purchase into the gutter.

We discuss whether to continue on the Primitivo and decide to give it a go despite nagging doubts as to our relative fitness to enter into a much wilder walk than we have been used to.

Tomorrow will tell.

DAY 19 Oviedo – Gardo   25kms ‘ A FANTA MOMENT’

St. Jaques sees us on our way

St. Jaques sees us on our way

We set off just after 8 o’clock and Mike decides he would like to attend mass in the church of St. James which we pass on the route out. I leave him to walk on alone with the agreement to meet for lunch somewhere along the way. Walking out of Oviedo is easy and soon I am in deep countryside.

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Iconic granite grain stores signpost the Way. There is forest walking and the route takes a slight detour down into a shaded valley of chestnut trees and along a stream.

The hills we must cross

The hills we must cross

Wild crocus adorn the path in places and I enjoy the shade as the day is getting warmer. The detour is a few kilometres and I realise, as I come back onto the road I had left an hour previous, that I am no more than a few bends further on than when I left it! I stop at the top of the hill to wait for Mike and don’t have to wait long as he has not taken the detour and saved himself the hour he had spent in church. He appears cheerful but the heat is getting to us both. After a short stop for refreshment we head off again.

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Much of the walking is through valleys that point to the hills in the distance that we know we will be climbing in a day or so. It is all very pretty but there is much hard track walking and little shade from a strengthening sun. We pass many isolated chapels.

The Fanta moment

The Fanta moment

We are walking uphill at one point. We are on asphalt as we pass through a village. Mike is ahead of me but appears to be struggling with pace and limping slightly. As I catch up he says he needs a drink and we stop for a water refresh. I’m sure he says ” I could kill a Fanta ” and at that point , as if from nowhere, we see an advert on the side of a small tavern with the orange “Fanta” can. Mike needs to stop but I am in the zone and need to continue up this hill or I will never get going again.

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I continue for a kilometre or so before finding a shady spot by a stream to rest my feet and take on some more water while I wait for Mike. we are amazed that the Camino provided for him just what he needed at that moment. There is nothing in the guide about the little bar which is tucked away in someone’s front room. We are to realise later the importance of that sugar drink for Mike who is actually quite dehydrated although at this point we don’t know it.

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The final few kilometres into Grado is an effort for us both and Grado is not the prettiest of villages with its industrial past. We have a choice to walk on  a further 8 kms to a monastery to find shelter or to hole up in an inexpensive wayside inn. It is still 34 degrees and close to six o’clock and we decide to call it a day. We receive a friendly welcome in the tavern but they don’t do food and so we descend the hill into the old part of town for salad and fish before settling into our shabby but clean room for a fitful night’s sleep.

We are neither of us sure we have made the right decision to walk this route. Tomorrow will bring an answer.

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