Camino del Norte: Day 15, Po to San Esteban de Leces

All of our hiking days are quickly starting to run together in my mind. I often can’t remember how many kilometers we did for the day, what city we started in, or what city we are in for that matter! This could be good or bad depending on how you look at it, but right now I think it is good. The first time where life is really simple and yet spontaneous. We often don’t know where we will end up for the night and we can decide to go anywhere we want. Ultimate control of our day’s destiny!

Today was a big walking day. We hadn’t walked this far since we went to Bilbao and if anyone read that post, they might remember that the walk to Bilbao was one of the most miserable days of my life (over dramatic, but true). However, the walk today was much different. It was beautiful leaving Po, the mountain range was the only thing lit up by the sun when we started walking. 

A lot of the beginning of the walk was on pavement but close to the ocean. We passed by many secluded beaches. The weather was the most windy we had experienced since we had been here, it could basically knock you down if you weren’t careful. Because of this the ocean was raging, smashing against the giant rocks and islands protruding out of the sea. Oh and those geysers we didn’t get to see yesterday, well we got to see a giant one today and it was spectacular! We got lucky because not only was the water aggressive because of the wind but it was also high tide.

We were moving much more quickly then we usually do so when we stopped for our ocean front breakfast, we realized we were already a third of the way to our destination for the evening. It was satisfying but also daunting because we still had 20 more kilometers to go. 

After turning inland we basically followed the highway for the rest of the walk in the afternoon. Our goal was to get to the town of Ribadesella early enough to get to a high rated bakery before afternoon siesta, and to be able to get groceries. The albergue we were headed to was 5km past Ribadesella, but had nothing but a few houses and a church near by so we needed to get food.

The bakery definitely lived up to the hype. For one, right when we walked in it smelled amazing. It’s always tricky trying to figure out what to get because we never really know what we are ordering. The last two times we messed up and got these things that looked like fluffy sugar covered donuts, but really they were rock hard, nasty, black licorice tasting pastries. Scott went after a completely chocolate dipped croissant filled with more chocolate, a guy after my own heart. My choice was a dense looking cake with glazed, sliced apples. Both of our desserts turned out to be a hit! Moist, delicious, exactly what we needed for the last 5km of our hike.

In the town of Ribadesella, there is accommodation but it is extremely expensive because most of their ocean front property is upscale ocean front, and it is a chic little coastal town. We ran into our Korean friend, Su, in Ribadesella, we had seen him two days earlier and he had found a new squad that was a bit younger and faster moving then our old squad. We were surprised that he wasn’t further ahead of us, but I was happy to see him and know that we were keeping pace with him.

The last part of the walk to San Esteban de Leces is basically a straight up incline for 900m. Okay, straight up is dramatic, but it is a good steep incline to get to the albergue at the top of the hill. We were trying to move quickly because we heard a lot of people were trying to get here for the night and we didn’t want to be without a bed. Fortunately, we were some of the first people to get there so we got a bed.

Feeling relieved, we checked in with the albergue host. He was a very loud Spanish man, but very kind and though we did’t understand anything he said, we could get the gist of basically everything. Our last three nights of quiet were quickly coming to an end though. We were back to rooms of 8-12 people in bunk beds. However, the facilities are very nice, they have everything you could need, and the view is AMAZING. From the back patio, you are high enough on the hill that you can see directly to the ocean. Though it was cold with the wind, the sun was shining so we sat out there and snacked on some popcorn.

After showering, hand washing and hanging some of our rather disgusting clothes, we relaxed and elevated our feet. The constant pounding of the pavement for over 30 kilometers was rough, not as bad as Bilbao, but it still took its toll. Then we made dinner which was another big flop. If you thought yesterday’s pasta with salsa was bad, tonight’s bland, over cooked chicken thrown on top of ramen was pretty much equal if not worse. Thank goodness for Scott being a bottomless black hole because he ate most of the treacherous meal. We are thinking that eating a dinner out is in our near future.

Tomorrow we are feeling ambitious and hoping to do a similar amount of kilometers as today!

Today’s Stats:
Number of km: 32.3km
Percent paved trail- unknown
Percent unpaved trail- unknown
Difficulty- Medium
Cities passed through: Celorio, Barro, Naves, Villahormes, Nueva, Pineres de Pria, Cuerres, Ribadesella

 Albergue- Albergue de Peregrinos Leves, blanket, pillows, full kitchen, common space, outdoor space, clothes lines, hot showers, wash area, café, and wifi

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