We settled on having lunch at one of the outdoor cafes in the main square. It turned out to be quite the comedy of errors. First of all, I tried to order some tinto de verano (summer wine) which I had enjoyed quite often when I visited Southern Spain several years ago. Here in the north, they didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. I finally ended up with an entire bottle of red wine and a big bottle of soda water. Oh dear! It turns out I should have just ordered sangria, but I didn’t figure that out until later.
In the food department, I wanted something light and opted to order a couple of tapas. I chose potatoes in garlic sauce and stuffed peppers. Once again my poor Spanish let me down. The waiter came with meal-sized portions of both dishes. I tried to eat as much as I could but the food was so rich I just ended up making myself feel sick. The blow of receiving a rather sizeable bill as a result of my mistakes was softened by the fact that I was half sloshed by the end of the meal.
Our entertainment while we ate was to watch an ornate clock on the top of City Hall. Mechanical figures of a man and a woman dressed in traditional clothing would strike the central bell on the hour, the half hour and the quarter hour.
After lunch we wandered around the city, visiting an open market where people were selling everything from honey to scarves. We didn’t buy anything though. Even a scarf meant added weight to carry. However consumables were a different matter and we did indulge in a couple of chocolate truffles. Astorga is said to be the birthplace of chocolates and so I didn’t feel it was right to come here and not sample the goods. Delicious!
We then went back to our rooms for a bit of a nap. We arranged to meet at the cathedral where we would attend evening mass, but the church remained closed that day so I just ended up back in the main square where I watched a wedding take place. There were more bagpipes and after the ceremony they set off a series of fireworks that went on for a good 15 minutes. Along with the wedding guests, the square was full of other locals taking their regular early evening promenade. I love this Spanish custom, which sees people of all ages coming together to visit and share the news of the day.
After dinner (this time I was careful to order small amounts) the three of us were heading back to our hostel when we ran into a Spanish man we’d met early in the Camino. He invited us to eat with him and even though we’d just had our meal we sat down to visit with him for a bit. We thought we’d just have one glass of wine and be on our way, but he insisted on ordering meat, cheese and bread. The wine was ample and he kept it flowing. By the time I stood up I was truely looped and am not even sure I could have found my way back to my room without Jo Anne’s guidance.