Saturday, September 29, 2012

Astorga to Rabanal del Camino (Sep 27)

It was good to finally leave the highway after Astorga and even better that our long walking day (for us that is anything more 20km) coincided with cool morning. There were several reasons for the more pleasant weather; we were another month towards the cooler period of the year, but at the same time we were gradually ascending to higher altitude.. We passed several small villages and just as it got warm in the middle of the day we headed into yet another oak forest.

Our next destination for the night Rabanal del Camino was surprisingly interesting. We were desperate for a cup of tea and so we were immediately attracted to a new, professional prepared sign proclaiming a taverna with "Italian cuisine" in English. We ordered tea and was suprised to  be served with an empty teapot containing a tea bag, a jug of hot milk and no water. And the tea was green tea. We should know better to order tea in a country better known for coffee! We did not return to the bar for another drink not just for that reason alone but the village was built on a steeply sloping land and our hostal was right on the top of the hill. We did not want to have to repeat the climb again.

We were also surprised to find that tbe restaurant at our accommodation not only stay open at our hours but actually received mention in the Michelin guide. The fish and seafood soup in the "menu del diaz" was remarkable as was the stew.

After dinner we attended part of the vesper run each night by the local Bendictine monks for pilgrims; the Latin service was supplemented by readings in a number of languages by pilgrims from a number of countries. We were not present for it but the monks also bless stones that some pilgrims carry to be placed at the Cruz de Ferro, the iron cross on the highest elevation point of the entire Camino now just half a day's  walk away.

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