Day 2 Colunga – Villaviciosa
Last night we ventured into town to sample the delights of Colunga. Its a busy little town, a nice enough church in the centre and stunning views all around but it has the feel of a place that might have seen better days. We were looking for a suitable place to eat but most places said ‘smokey bar’ rather than ‘nice restaurant’ . Just as I’d almost decided that a room picnic would be the best option Gerry spotted Hotel Las Vegas… Which sounded promising although we were directed to Cafateria Las Vegas which didn’t have the same ring but it turned out to be a little gem. Menu de Dia for 14€ each… Three delicious courses and wine (and coke zero) included.
As we ate, on the next table to us a couple sat all evening without exchanging a word; he watched the football and she was on her phone. I do wonder sometimes if Gerry fancies a night of silence to enjoy the footie? Anyway they left as the ref blew the final whistle and we went to bed full and happy pilgrims.
We woke at 7.00 and managed to be on the road 45 minutes later. The bar opposite the church was open for coffee and a fresh hot (fabulous) tortilla patata… Gerry also managed a croissant! A great start and on the road at 8.20.
Today wasn’t going to be as long as yesterday but there were a few more hills. We are walking away from the coast and into the national parks of the Asturias region of Spain. Today was our last day on the Norte as our destination is Villaviciosa where the camino splits either to Oviedo on the Primitivo or you return to the coast and continue on the Norte to Santiago.
The landscape is beautiful with huge wide green valleys and rocky peaks but it seems we left the blue skies at the beach; no matter though as it was perfect walking weather. It threatened rain for a few minutes but it soon stopped. Actually it stopped as soon as we had covered our packs and coated up. But rain or hills couldn’t dampen our spirits because it was glorious.
We were walking along a quiet country road with cows and sheep and a full compliment of donkeys for company. Neat farms with pretty gardens, the odd albergue or church but sadly no bars or cafés. We knew that today would be a walk with no services so we had come prepared. We sat in a church porch for a shoe break and shared a banana. Opposite us was an enormous ancient grain store. It’s wood look hard as stone and gnarled and grey with age. Beside it a new store was being built; beautiful new wood, smooth and with that glorious new wood smell. Someone was taking great care of this new store and we wondered how long it would be before it looked like it’s neighbour. We had a similar conversation a little later as we walked under the giant legs of a motorway bridge. A few metres further on we crossed an ancient stone bridge and wondered which would be the last man standing.
We wandered on but I stopped short as ahead I could see a German Shepherd dog looking back at us. He didn’t have the look of a dog that wanted to play, he was clearly not happy with us walking by his patch. “I’m not going” I declared “you are” Gerry replied… It went like this for a couple of minutes until it was agreed that Gerry went first. If he wasn’t attacked I would follow… If he was then I would go back for help. As it happened the dog was on a chain so we walked quickly by without further ado.
On and on we walked through undulating countryside. It feels like the hills are breaking us in gently for the mountains that are coming! We turned off the road and onto a track, which was a blessed relief as the tarmac is hard underfoot. I wanted a break. We reached a tiny hamlet but there was nowhere to stop. The next one was only 1.5 kilometers so we agreed to stop there. But we didn’t. Gerry didn’t like the look of the bench. It was too low. He said he’d wait for the church. There was no church. My feet ached and my toe was sore and I wanted a break. I reminded Gerry of how nice that bench would have been as we sat on the side of the road eating our lunch.
We ate. I moaned about the bench. We changed our shoes and then continued up the hill. “Do you want to put that bag of rubbish in my pack? ” I asked. “No it’s fine… I’ll put it in the bin when we reach that bar, it’s only just around the corner” says Gerry. Haha. Very funny. We both laughed and I showed him Mike’s trick of pushing each other up the hill.
Mike was one of my little group of pilgrims. His wife had planned to come but a last minute injury meant Mike came instead. He looked like a rabbit in the headlights on the first day but he proved to be the class clown and was as fit as any of us. He could march up a hill and walking into Logroño he gave me a push. Believe me someone pushing your rucksack really does take the sting out of a hill. So we pushed each other and laughed and I mentioned that bench again but blow me down with a feather we turned a corner there was a flippin bar!
Refreshed we started again. Only 6 kilometres to town. Gerry mentioned that bar many many many times in those 6 kilometres. I refused to push his pack in the end.
It came as no surprise to learn that Villaviciosa has a history of cider making. We’ve walked through and beside cider apple orchards all day. Fitbit says only 19.3 kilometres today but the hills and the tarmac meant we were happy to stop.
Bed or bar didn’t roll in our favour today. Our hotel was the first stop in town. So we’re washed and showered and our laundry is hanging from the window. We’ll go explore later… I’m pretty sure Mr S is planning a sidra or two tonight.