Today was the real push. What we estimated at about 40km (25 miles) was really just over 45km or 28 miles. As such, Mikey planned on an early 5:30am start, but really didn’t begin until 6:30am. Still, with an almost 10 hour estimate, he didn’t have much time to waste.
Oh, and Mikey is quoting Wikipedia here (cringe!), but wants you to know that a marathon is “an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 miles, or 26 miles 385 yards)…” OK, but let’s talk to him about how long it took him to complete said marathon!
The streets of Avilés were definitely empty on an early Sunday morning. While the hustle and bustle of uban living is attractive, Mikey really enjoys the early AM’s and siestas during which no one is out.
We did take a quick detour to find the statue Mikey wanted to see. This is the monument to Pedro Menéndez de Avilés of whom we spoke last time.
But, unlike the great Spanish navigator, Mikey got lost – big time. Remember how the urban sprawl makes cities harder to navigate into and out of? Yeah, this was a case in point.
So, he spotted a German foursome and trailed them for a bit. All was going well until they stopped, looked around, and called out to him asking if this was the right way. Aparently, they had noticed Mikey following them and assumed that they were on the right path. Oops.
Well, they stayed put to consult their guidebooks while Mikey teamed up with Siri on his iPhone. Camino be damned, all we needed to do was reach the next town and pick up the yellow arrows there.
This was an impressive view of the city and suburbs leaving Avilés. Too bad for the eyesore of a factory billowing out smoke.
An inherent problem with taking an alternative route is the lack of footpaths. In this first section, we had to hug the side of the road and hope for the best.
Well, we made it fine to Salinas – a beach town lacking both in water fountains and Sunday morning cafes. That meant that Mikey had to walk 1/2 mile to the beach to refill his bottles and missed his morning coffee all together. No bueno.
Regardless, back on the trail, we quickly figured out that today would be a most remote experience wherein few others would be accompanying us (aside from some above locals). This is mostly due to the few pilgrims who are willing and able to complete such a hike.
Not that this is a great feat, but remember how Mikey has said before that this is still a vacation? I guess it all boils down to how one wants to walk a camino. Some speed through it due to time restrictions while others hop and skip through the more desirable parts. Still, others take years to complete a camino walking small segments periodically, but methodically.
Our best guess is that Mikey decided to “hump it out” today so as to make up time for that extra day of rest in Gijon. Although he has more than enough days to complete the Northern Camino, we might expect something of a surprise detour or excursion in the coming days. Portugal is already on the list, but maybe there might be more!
OK, this picture was amazingly composed by Mikey’s betters: architects, nature, weather, etc, all played major roles. Our amateur photographer just happened to turn back around.
Really, much of today was beautiful rolling hills and hamlets devoid of commerce. Ergo, we pilgrims could soak in their beauty from near and far, but there existed no restaurants, stores, or bars from which to take in local culture. So much for “townie” interaction.
The town of El Castillo (The Castle) is known for the remnants of a medieval castle predating much of the Romanesque-styled churches about which we have raved. You can see the restored tower peeking through the trees. (Unfortunately, it was pretty far from the path on such a busy camino day.)
Within reach, however, were the walls of the 15th century Palace of Valdecarzana in Muros de Nalon (literally: Walls of Nalon). Still, as it was a Sunday, outside photos would have to suffice.
As we returned to the woods for several hours of walking, Mikey noted a most important factor concerning today’s journey: signage. As you’ll note in the above photo, there are two paths diverging in the woods. The left climbs upwards while the right path descends.
We solo pilgrims are ever conscious to pay cautious attention to markers and yellow arrows so as not to take the wrong path. I mean, with only one set of eyes … let’s just say that there exist jams in which Siri is no help.
Other times, we walk along paths for quite some time before encountering an underpass in which local graffiti artists have taken pains to reassure us of our chosen path.
Other times, the scallop shell is more hidden along the Way.
Sure, the major markers are as comforting as catching sight of the sea once again, but they are not always with us. Routes can change, markers deteriorate, and vandals can deface them.
Often times our greatest historical sites have to be refurbished. Is this 16th century Church of Saint Peter in Cudillero as moving to the observer if he knows that much of it was repaired and stylistically altered in later epochs?
Maybe now arguing against Thoreau, Mikey sees how things must change. The wooden trailer onto which was added rubber tires is now dwarfed by multiple expressways. Is this a change within ourselves or of things?
Perhaps that is an argument for another day. Regardless, the above Baroque-styled 18th century Church of Saint Mary hailed our arrival in Soto de Luiña and the end of a very long walk full of thought.
But, wait – there’s a bit more! After running a load of laundry, it was time for the Pilgrim’s Dinner!
We began with a pork noodle soup with boneless ribs, bread, and a carafe of wine.
The main entrée was lacal sardines and fried potatoes.
And we ended with cake and coffee. Not too shabby for $10, eh?!
Well, the guidebook recommends 20km tomorrow and 16km the next day. Mikey’s not really feeling short days at this point, so he’s going to try for another marathon tomorrow. Hey, if it happens – it happens! If not, he’ll be early in a town and will have lots more interesting things to write about!
Until then – “Goodnight and good luck!” -M