Day 1 of our Camino walk started at lovely Astorga. After spending the night on a bus travelling from Barcelona, taking about 11-12 hours (blissfully spent in sleep), we finally reached our starting point. It was dark when we got off the bus and immediately began looking for a place to take our credentials from. We found the first albergue very easily, it was so close to the cathedral, however, the hospitalero was not willing to spend any of his time on us. He was speaking to us in Spanish (like so so many people on the Camino), but it became clear he was welcoming us at 11 o’clock. 4 hours? No way.
One pilgrim on the street showed us the municipal albergue and we decided to give it a try. We were lucky because right after holding our credentials in hands, it closed as well. What followed was a memorable breakfast – cafe con leche (it is amazing that while in Spain even in the smallest of villages I enjoyed fantastic cafe con leche-s) and churros - the sole thought is mouth-watering.
And then we were finally on the road. So much excitement! Our Camino walk stared! The weather was perfect – warm and sunny, and we had ahead of us some long stretches of fields, however, some walking along the road as well. I would not say the route was challenging, but I have to admit I needed some time to get used to hours of walking with my backpack on. Various people were passing us by. The section was wonderfully chosen for a first day, as it was flat and only about 20 km, so enough for a warm-up.
The ending point, Rabanal, is a charming village with a number of albergues, some small shops and bars. It looks quite cozy with its narrow stone streets and houses. We stayed at Refugio Gaucelmo. A sing at the entrance informed it accepts only pilgrims and only ones who carried their luggage on their own. Accommodation price – donation (breakfast included). One of the things I remember the hospitaleros there about is their concern with bedbugs. Among the first questions we were asked was “Have you, at any point, been in contact with bedbugs?”. In the evening, while relaxing in the beautiful garden behind the albergue, a girl arrived, and she obviously admitted to meeting the notorious creatures. What followed was that they disposed all of her contents in a huge bag, sprayed them with insecticide and closed it tightly. I did not watch very carefully the rest of the procedures, but what has to be mentioned is that I highly appreciate the efforts of these people to identify the issue and take measures to stop these hitchhikers travelling further west.
The afternoon tea and biscuits served in the garden was something I did not expect.
The first day of our Camino walk filled me with enthusiasm and keen interest what next day will bring.