Week 5


We left early out of Ribadesella. We crossed a bridge and nearly got erased by an early morning delivery van. We quickly made it to the local beach for a sunrise walk along a nearly perfect beach.

Leaving town, we started gaining elevation in a wooded area and then lost it all to come to the beach town of Vega. Some enterprising individual had posted adds for coffee in a couple locations on the trail and we took the half kilometer detour to get some. It ended up being a machine that dispensed brown water for €1. Another reason to hate advertising. As we departed with brown water sloshing in our bellies, we met our friend from northern Italy, Angelica. We chatted for a bit and hiked.

After a few twists and turns we made our way to the tiny town of Berbes. A fellow hiker, Bob, was waiting there to catch a bus. He is a producer of documentaries and his phone died. To maintain his virtual presence, he was going to go fix or replace his phone and then bus back to where he left the trail. The things we do to stay honest to ourselves and our Camino.   

As we stumbled into Colunga, our old friend Leo was waiting for us… doing a beach clothing change in a grocery store parking lot. We chatted for a couple of minutes, but the need to eat was too strong and we headed off to find food and our hotel. We found food at a nice restaurant. You could tell it was nice as they immediately sent us to a windowless basement. The waitress was elderly, toothless, and spoke Spanish as it was meant to be spoken – fast and slurred. We order what we thought was seafood soup, a fish dish for the main, and, of course, a bottle of wine. The soup was good, but the langoustines weren’t pealed, nor were the shrimp. I felt even more animal-like as I dripped soup everywhere and tried to peal the various seafood. The main dish came out and we knew we screwed up. In this region, squid isn’t calamares, it is pescado de chipirones. And that is how we learned to choke down rubbery and dry squid.

We made it to the hotel, of which we may have been the only guests as they closed the lobby and turned out the lights as soon as we checked in.

In the morning, we went to the bar that was supposed to be open early. We had heard this lie so many times that you could have knocked us over with a feather when we walked into not only an open bar, but one packed with ~30 hunters and some Camino walkers. I managed to get us coffee and we headed out.

That day was a pleasant walk through woods and orchards. Things were quiet and uneventful until the gunfire started. Several rifles (?) went off all around our trail. No discernible direction other than all-directions.  We had heavy packs, so running or dropping to the ground weren’t great options. Instead, we started singing and whistling at the top of our lungs. No more gun fire near us, but it took reaching a highway to get my nerves back to normal.

We arrived in Villaviciosa without any sucking chest wounds, so that was a win.

From Villaviciosa to Gijόn was the two highest mountains of the entire walk. We shipped the bulk of the weight from our packs and it made a huge difference. We walked with nice Catalonian named Alberto. We had passed him several times, but never broken the language barrier. We ended up chatting (OK, Laura chatted and I listened and said one of the 5 Spanish words I know at random times) for hours.

From Gijόn to Alviles can only be described as something you wish you could forget. It starts with a long walk on pavement through a busy city, a brief section of woods and then a series of concrete plants (or other equally appealing industrial scenery). Miles and miles of hideous dusty factories and scorching pavement. We arrived in the city center of Alviles to a restaurant that was supposed to be open every day of the year… They tried to turn us away as being full, but Laura’s mad Spanish skills got us a seat in the second seating and a beer for me while we waited. Beer, mmmmm.  After lunch, it was a short walk to our hotel and a nice night of sleep.

From Alviles to Muros de Nalόn it was a pleasant walk. Three gals from Nebraska were staying there and walking the Camino. We chatted for a bit and then went to get dinner.

Leaving Muros de Nalόn was an easy walk and pretty enough until we found out that we had accidentally gotten on the bike route. It added a bit of pavement, but not too bad. After a bit we remerged onto the standard route. Looking over my shoulder, who should appear but our friend Leo! We chatted for a couple of hours. Today was his last day on the Camino. He was taking a train out of the next town to return to the Netherlands. Since it was a short day, we opted for a risky “600 meter” diversion to the beach. The Caminos are notorious for incorrect distances on signs and randomly closed cafes, but the stars aligned and we had coffee with Leo. After an hour or more, we needed to leave and Leo needed to try and get one more swim before he had to go.


We took a long-cut on the way back to the trail, but got to see some weird buildings and different places on our way to Soto de Luiña.

As with all things Google Maps, things can get weird. The next leg of our journey was listed as 41 kilometers for the shortest walking route to get us from Soto de Luiña to Luarca. We started at 6 AM to hedge our bets of getting to our hotel before midnight.  The weather was good and we met Heather, a fast talking and faster walking Canadian. She had walked most of the Caminos and seemed hell-bent on breaking a record. She was fun to talk to so we double-timed it to keep up with her for a bit. We also formally met Michelle. A Frenchman walking solo. He spoke only French (Laura speaks a little, but it is yet another language I don’t speak). We kept running in to him as we were the rabbit and he was the tortoise.

We made it to our hotel absolutely beat. The hotel manager wanted to wax poetic about where the laundry facilities for the town were located. He must have said it was a pay laundry and that you needed to use cash 5 times. He gave us bus and taxi routes and stations…just generally every detail about a town that someone walking 40 kilometers doesn’t give a rip about.

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