27th September, 2019
- Day 20: Gijón to San Martín de Laspra
- Distance: 33km
- Weather: Overcast and cool
- Accommodation: Albergue San Martín de Laspra, € donativo
Last night, my host recommended I skip the 24km walk from Gijón to Avilés, saying it’s the worst part of the Camino. I’ve heard the same from others and most pilgrims I know are taking the bus, but I’m intrigued as to just how bad it really is?! So I walk. To be honest, just getting back to the Camino is a challenge and I walk for more than an hour before I see any arrows. Leaving Gijón it does a get a big ‘ugly’ walking under a highway but it’s short lived and soon I’m walking through a forest and wondering what all the fuss is about? I even take a detour to see a megalithic tomb.
I’m having a lovely time, until I hit the shoulder of the AS-19. I have to walk along this shoulder for 4.5km until a pavement appears for the last 5km to Avilés. When people say “Don’t walk from Gijón,” I think what they really mean to say is, “Don’t walk into Avilés” because this is for sure the worst and most dangerous part so far. It starts to rain, so at least I look like a bright beacon in my red poncho.
I wander around Avilés having heard quite good reviews, but I don’t think the Camino takes me to the best bits. I’m cold and wet so I decide to find somewhere for lunch before continuing on the final 7km to San Martín de Laspra. In a side street I pass a sign advertising a ‘medio menu’ for €7. I can see that it’s busy inside (always a good sign), so I take off my poncho and shake it out, then head in, a little sheepishly with my backpack on, conscious of how I must look to the smartly dressed business people enjoying their lunch. The restaurant is Mesón de Salamanca and the food is not only amazingly good value (a main, bottle of wine, bread and dessert for €7) but it’s also very very good. I order roast chicken to start, cheesecake for dessert and red wine. I have two glasses of the wine and when the waitress comes with the bill, I ask if I can take the wine with me. She nods, then pulls out a cork from her apron, and plugs it back in. Am I crazy? I’ve got 7km to go and it’s all uphill… why am I carrying a bottle of wine?!
I take a wrong turn after leaving Avilés and when I look at the app, I’m walking in the opposite direction to my destination… but strangely I’m still following the arrows. I’m supposed to walk through Salinas, but I don’t go anywhere near there and actually have to backtrack to get to the albergue. Frustrating.
I meet some friendly faces when I check in and they’re delighted to see the bottle of wine peeking out of my pack. We finish the wine and then I excuse myself to have an early night. I’m full from my big lunch and tired. The others are cooking up a storm for dinner but I don’t have the energy or the room in my stomach to join them. Goodnight x