Distance Today: 14.4 km
Total Distance from Oviedo: 14.4 km
Elevation Gain: 347 metres
Highlight: El Tendejon de Fernando, Escamplero
We faced a couple of challenges yesterday morning when leaving Bilbao. First of all, we needed to be good map readers (which we aren’t) and, second of all, we needed to know that the first day of the week in Spain is Monday (which we didn’t).
Although we had a map in hand as we made our way from one side of Bilbao to the other in the early morning hours, it didn’t help. We needed assistance from a few patient locals who were hurriedly making their way to work and willing to help set us on the right track in the direction of the bus depot.
The second challenge was to find a live person to exchange the bus tickets we purchased at a machine for the wrong travel date. Where I went wrong with the machine was in thinking that the first day of the week in Spain is Sunday like it is on my cell phone calendar. If I simply remembered that our travel date was May 13th, this mistake wouldn’t have happened. I was careless and in too big a hurry! The ticket was exchanged by a person in time for the bus which, thankfully, was running late.
After all this mental mayhem, we were able to collect our composure on the luxurious 3 1/2 hour ALSA bus trip from Bilbao to Oviedo. There were rows of three, wide, comfortable seats, with two seats together on one side of the isle and one seat on the other. A little table flipped out from the armrest if you wanted it.
What a smooth ride with fabulous coastal views! If the views weren’t entertaining enough, though, there was wi-fi and a screen for personal entertainment on the back of the seat in front to keep us occupied. With no time to eat breakfast before boarding the bus, we were happy about the pastries and drinks the hostess brought around. We didn’t even miss out on our cafe con leche! For the record, this luxurious transportation was 85.14 Euros for both of us plus an additional 10.70 Euros to change our tickets to the correct date.
Finding our way to the Pension Romero in Oviedo was easy. It was in a perfect location in the centre of town within a few blocks of the cathedral and one block from the Camino. It was a very nice private room with bathroom for just 35 Euros.
Oviedo is the capital city of Asturias and the usual starting point for walking the Camino Primitivo (the Original Way). It is the first ever pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, all due to King Alphonse II, nicknamed The Chaste. During the first third of the ninth century, he played a decisive role in confirming that the human remains in Santiago de Compostela belonged to the Apostle Saint James. He collaborated in creating the pilgrimage to Santiago from the budding metropolis of Oviedo, a distance of 328 kilometres.
The many hospitals set up along the way bear witness to the importance of this route, especially those in remote spots ensconced high up in the mountains. They served a fundamental purpose – attending to pilgrims who were forced to cross areas of breathtaking beauty yet which also represented an arduous challenge with snowstorms, strong winds, and treacherous paths during much of the year. Thank heavens we are doing this in May!
The country roads and trails were peaceful and the scenery was beautiful under blue skies. It was a perfect morning to start walking in the footsteps of King Alphonse the Chaste toward Santiago de Compostela. The signposting has been good. All we have to do is follow the scallop shell symbols in the direction where the spines come together.
We came across La Pipera (Lavadero Tradicional de Loriana) and several large horreos where traditionally grain was stored. I doubt that these are used for their original purpose. Many of them are in derelict condition but we’ve also seen others that are beautifully decorated. Once I heard that having an horreo on your property could be considered a status symbol.
Toward the end of the morning we came to a steep downhill, a walk along a pretty creek, followed by a steep uphill climb. Dave thought we should have avoided these ups and downs by staying on the road, but would that have been the Camino!? These hills were nothing compared to some of the more serious climbs that some have described as a killer hill and brutal. They are yet to come. Yikes!
We arrived in Escamplero just past noon and checked into one of three private rooms at El Tendejon de Fernando. There is a living room and a shared bathroom but, since no one else is staying here tonight, we have the whole apartment to ourselves. This place was highly recommended because of the food to which we will certainly give two thumbs up. The dinner (22.20 Euros) and accommodation (35 Euros) for both of us are excellent.
This pension is in a beautiful rural setting with roosters, cowbells, and fabulous views of rows upon rows of distant mountains in the misty air. I sat for awhile on the grass/clover/daisy patch at our pension, cerveza in hand, taking it all in. Maybe we’ll stay…