Day 25, Fri Oct 21 was a Rest Day in Gijon. We visited the Roman baths, churches, other touristic stuff, trip planning, etc.
Day 26, Sat Oct 22. Gijon to Aviles, 8 hours, 24.7km.
We started the morning with getting an empanada that was filled with ‘pollo curry’ from a nearby panaderia that had opened since 7.30am. This is highly unusual as most tend to open at 9am. We kept this for later in the morning.
Our Plan A was to catch a bus to a stop just outside the city limits. This would spare us the drudgery of walking through the older and industrial sections. After getting directions and a map from the hotel front desk, we set off for the bus stop that was like 5 mins away.
We noted that the bus #24 (per guidebook’s recommendations) was listed as stopping at this bus stop. There were other people waiting at this bus stop. The minutes passed, the other buses came, the people waiting at the bus stop got into their buses. After waiting 30 minutes, we were the only ones at the bus. I typed into Google Translate a question of whether bus #24 stops here, clarifying that we had waited for 30 mins, with the intent to show any bus driver which pulls up or who I waved down. However, a lady showed up to wait for a bus, so I showed her my phone with the Spanish translation. She put on her reading glasses, got up to check the printed schedule. Somehow, we got the message that bus # 24 will only come in TWO hours time, since it was the weekend (Saturday!)
What was Plan B? We decided to walk. And it wasn’t a drudgery at all. We went through the suburbs, and it was interesting to see the contrast of the city glitz versus the down to earth suburban facilities. One of the notable differences was the pricing levels. Granted, for food items, a lot depends on the amount and quality of ingredients. But we bought atun (tuna) empanadas at Euro 5 and 4 at various towns. Here in the suburbs, it was Euro 3.25!
Life decided to throw a ‘fast’ ball at us as we were nearing that bus #24 destination, Sat within 0.5km, which was the start of the steep climb. I term it a ‘fast ball’ because the event will cause a gut reaction. There’s no time for intellectual analyzing. The ‘fast ball’ was a bus #24 coming up behind us! So, it wasn’t a 2 hour wait back in town. Perhaps our overall system was too tired to respond with unnecessary emotions or perhaps the Camino Way was starting to seep into our bodies, but it was a ‘so what’ response to seeing the bus #24. We got to walk even though we might not be so refreshed for the climb if we had been on the bus. And we observed some pretty interesting local sights.
Life is about Plans A, what our primary objectives or aims, and consequently, desired expectations and outcomes. A curve ball is then sometimes thrown at us. Plan B is then needed.
Today seems to be sprinkled with Plans B.
Let me jump to the evening after we had arrived in Aviles (the day will be depicted via attached photos). Given the next day will be Sunday, the priority was the supermarket shopping. Armed with a short but needed list of 5 items, Plan A was to walk to Lidl, a German based supermarket, which was 0.6km. One of the hardest thing to find was electrolytes which we had bought at Decathlon (Bilbao, Santander), a chain found only in major towns/cities.
As I was within 200m of Lidl, out of the corner of my eye, I realized I was passing another supermarket chain, Alimerka. Plan B neurons activated and I decided to see if I could get the 5 items on the shopping list in Alimerka. After getting 3 (which every supermarket would have), I was left with the electrolytes and pastries. As I stood at the end of an aisle, considering which sections to explore, I happen to just turn my head and saw the familiar electrolyte tubes on a shelf that was an arms length from me. A wave of astonishment swept over me! Plan B.
Plan A was to have an early dinner. Joon had found a restaurant in Aviles that offered Phad Thai and other fusion style food and was open at 7.00pm. This was attractive, both in terms of the early dinner and variety of food. As we made our way there, we noted a church that seemed open and said to ourselves that we would come back to it after dinner.
At this restaurant, Bambola, there was a sizable crowd. We went in and an English speaking waiter informed us that it’s best to return at 8.30pm when the kitchen would be fully opened (he initially said 8.15pm but left some leeway for the cooks to ‘settle in’). The sizable crowd was from the lunch hour plus afternoon aperitifs.
Plan B was put then into motion. We went back to that church we had spotted earlier. To our pleasant surprise that was a service in progress! What made this exceptional was there were portable 150-200 children, likely below 10 years, who were singing. They sat in the front pews and outnumbered the adults, some who were standing outside (parents, grandparents, etc.) We were able to partake of the Eucharist, which was special for us.
Plan A had been to only reserve 6 or so nights ahead for flexibility. But I had been wrestling with the stage stops as we were getting into smaller towns/villages that had a paucity of separate room accommodation. Joon kindly reminded me on checking in that I had wanted to ask the reception staff to assist with some bookings in Spanish as I anticipated this hotel might have good bilingual staff. After checking in, I changed my strategy and spent time re-doing the stage stops, sorted through various sites and accommodation offerings. Marta then helped secure two different reservations through phone calls. Booking.com was off little help in those two locations. Marta was instrumental in Plan B, and thus, I ended with reservations all the way to Santiago. Plans B sometimes require ‘angels’ in disguise.
As a Parent, I wanted my children to be focused on their own Plans A. But as I grow older, I wonder if I should have instilled in them the discernment, resiliency and serenity for Plans B?