Thursday, May 2, 2024

Spain's Camino Primitivo Part 3: Oviedo and the start of my Camino journey

 I arrived in Oviedo mid-afternoon after a short train ride from Leon.  Oviedo presented much cloud cover - a big transition from the cloudless skies of Leon.  Oviedo is only about 20 miles from the ocean, but is elevated and is bordered by the mountains I traveled through (literally) on my way from Leon.  As a result, it has a much more maritime climate.

With time to kill before checking into my hostel, I wandered around town and enjoyed the wide variety of statues in this city's public places.  Perhaps the strangest one honors movie director Woody Allen!  

It was evident almost immidiately after stepping off of the train that Oviedo is a larger city than Leon was.  With a population around 220,000 residents, it has much more of a big city feel than Leon did. The first photo below shows the train station, and the photos that follow give a little sense of the urban nature of the city.  

 But the city was still very walkable and enjoyable to explore, with much of the center having limited car access.

I had my first travel hiccup here, upon attempting to check into the Green Hostel.  After helping another woman to find the bed she reserved, the host told me that I had actually reserved a bed for the night before!  She said that they tried to call me multiple times, but that I hadn't answered.  While I had seen the calls come in, I ignored them, not knowing the source.  She told me that they might have one more bed, but I remembered that another hostel had emailed me saying that I had a reservation with them - one that I had forgotten about because I made the reservation back in January.  I made my way over to La Hosperderia and stayed there for the night, sharing a room with 4 or 5 bunks with only one other person - a young guy from Belgium who was using his vacation to bus around Spain and France.

La Hosperderia's location was fantastic - maybe 100 yards from the Cathedral where the Camino Primitivo starts. I was very happy with my choice - much closer than the Green Hostel to the start of my camino. And I was able to purchase my Camino passport at the cathedral for 2 euros, and purchased another for good luck.  The passports each already had their first stamp - from the cathedral.  I needed a passport in order to get the stamps required to prove at the end of my camino that I had walked the entire distance.  And, although I only needed one stamp a day for the first 220 kilometers of my walk, I also got one at the hostel, as a souvenier.  I would not need another one until I reached the hostel the next night.

I did not tour the cathedral.  It is not as spectacular as the one in Leon, and is known primarily because of the religious relics that it houses, including the Shroud of Oviedo, said to be the cloth placed over Jesus's face after he died on the cross.  It is only shown to the public three times a year.

But the square in front of the cathedral is a nice, large open space, and it includes a large sign advertising Oviedo as the origin of the camino.  

After dinner and a drink, I settled into my bed in anticipation of the next day's journey, but did not sleep very well. Excitement?  Jet Lag?  Not sure.  But I started wishing I had brought something stronger than Melatonin from home.

The next day started my journey, and is covered in the next posting.  Link.

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