If you were paying attention yesterday, you’ll have noticed my antipathy to boiled chicken: you will therefore understand my disappointment that the meal in the Albergue was… well I hardly need to continue, do I? Even the chips had a boiled feel, having been microwaved back up to temperature with the chicken.
I don’t want to seem churlish as mine host and his missus were very pleasant and amenable. The beer was surprisingly cheap as well and we were allowed to have our meal at a sensible time. L was particularly impressed by the coffee.
The Spanish nature-lovers turned up and were exemplary guests, making very little noise coming to bed after their much-later-than-us meal. They were getting up at sparrow-fart to watch rutting deer, bless their little cotton socks, but made virtually no noise at all.
L & I breakfasted at a more sensible 8:30 then set off.
Today’s trek was a smidgen under 20km and reached 1600m or so. It was probably a very picturesque walk, but we spent the day in low cloud with occasional drizzle. It wasn’t cold, though, and I did most of the walk in a damp tee shirt. Laurie wrapped up a bit more but sportingly bared his legs to the elements. We both felt we did well: there was a long climb out of Bejes – an attractive wee village with its terracotta half-pipe tiled roofs – then cattle at ridiculous altitudes, a sign saying the Spanish equivalent of “Road Closed”*, more cows, a disused mine and a long descent into Sotres. Sotres is a bigger place than Bejes and has a number of hotels and one or two shops, all roofed with the culturally-required terracotta tiles. On a sunny day it would be touristically pretty, but today’s weather has caused the crowds to atrophy and given a rather grey cast to everything.
Our accommodation in Sotres is a notch or two up from last night. We have a twin room with good-sized en suite. The shower even has what I laughingly referred to as a Gwyneth Paltrow attachment: a thin wand that one could imagine might emit steam.
Mr C has a healthy appetite and we tucked into two bocadillos: “proper” (not Spanish) omelettes in huge pieces of “Mediterranean” bread. I couldn’t finish mine, but L wolfed his way through his whilst I cursed at my phone: this morning it chose to tell me it had a download ready for me and I said the equivalent of “let’s do it”, which took half an hour and added all sorts of complications that quite honestly I could do without. I’ve also learned fingerprint recognition doesn’t work with wet fingers and you have to type your password in a minimum of 97 times before you can switch the fingerprint stuff off.
I remain resolutely optimistic that we won’t get boiled chicken for tea, poor sad deluded fool that I am.
Tomorrow we leave civilization behind and strike out into the centre of the Picos for our first refuge night. Rumour has it that tomorrow will be sunny, which would be great as the scenery should be superb. I very much doubt we’ll have Internet access, but I promise to tell you all about it in a couple of days when we should reach Casa Begoñia in Posada de Valdeon.
Hasta luego, amigos.
*I don’t want this detail to mislead you into envisaging us walking on a road. We were on a Land Rover track, occasionally passed by Spanish livestock-keepers in old vans, matchstick-thin fag end glued to lower lip, out tending their cattle and uttering at most a terse ¡Hola! in reply to our greetings.