Friday was my last day walking, but the joy of the Camino is that you can make new friends in even that short space of time. At our second stop for the day, Elke and I met Laurie, from the Netherlands, who started in Leon and is walking her first Camino.
We walked the rest of the day together, stopping at the lovely Casa de los Dioses (which I saw last year too and is one of my favourite places on the Way). We spent an hour or so sitting there, enjoying the sun, not needing to talk. Less than a day on the Camino and you’re already old friends.
Even after we reached our final stop in Astorga, we didn’t stop meeting new people. At our albergue we met a Danish woman, Anita, who was taking a day’s rest and had already spent some time in Astorga. She came to dinner with us, and helped us find a good space to watch the Good Friday parades. We swapped stories of working life in Copenhagen and London, I was a little amazed to find it’s common for Danes to finish at 3pm on Fridays!
The next day, we had some time to spend in Astorga. Over breakfast we bumped into Norma – who shared our pilgrms’ dinner with us earlier in the week – and, after eating, we said said hasta luego (not goodbye) when she had to set off to start her walk for the day. Friendships on the Camino may be short, but I’ve found they can last a lifetime.
Even then, we hadn’t stopped making Camino friends. We were also joined at breakfast by Joan (also Danish, also taking a rest day).
Joan joined Elke and I to tour Astorga’s beautiful cathedral, and stunning Gaudi Episcopal Palace. It’s one of Gaudi’s only building’s outside Catalunya, and was well worth the visit. It’s calming and peaceful inside, but also a little bit bonkers. I can’t imagine I’d ever have visited this town if it weren’t for the Camino (we had a five hour train ride back to Bilbao) but I’m so glad I got the chance.
And so we left Astorga, and the Camino. But I’m sure it’s only for now. We also left a number of people to continue their journeys. But I’m also sure I’ll see many of them again.
So, to Elke, Ines, Konnie, Florian, Joaquim, Laurie, Anita, Joan, Norma, Brian, Kathie, Barb, Karl, the French couple whose names I forgot to ask, John (actually there were a few Johns), Javi (there were a few Javis too!) and everyone else along the Camino this year, hasta luego, and Buen Camino. A Santiago!