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Storm Front Moving over Oviedo
Seven Days of Bad Weather Moving In

Getting Started

The Start Early Spring
in the Valleys
Pasture Onlookers A Rural Path
Leaving Oviedo Into the Valleys Asturian Pasture Onlookers, watching you pass Typical rural path

On the western side of Oviedo, the Camino leaves urbanized areas almost immediately as you begin the long climb toward the High Country. You pass tilled fields, pastures, and hillsides in agricultural use all the way to the top. If there have been recent rains, sometimes the paths become ponds or small streams. A walking stick -- either brought with you or picked up alongside the road -- will serve you well.

There are no good places to stop for lunch on this stage of the journey, and precious few on the whole Camino. The towns and villages in these parts are quite small, with a couple of bars here and there offering unimpressive tapas and bocadillos. A better alternative is to buy provisions in Oviedo to carry along, and stop when you need to. Or, if you're making good time, take only short rest stops and wait till Grado to eat. Unfortunately, there's not much of value in the town of Grado either: three hotels and some bars with open-faced sandwiches are about the limit of what I found open.

Completing this lack of welcome, the Albergue de Peregrinos is not in the town of Grado. If you really want the albergue experience, brace yourself for a stiff 3km climb and a detour off the Camino to the village of San Juan de Villapañada, which has no food or services at all. Or else, try the Hotel Palper on the highway about a half-mile before Grado, which I found to be clean, quiet, and comfortable.

Park in Grado Millionaires Row
in Grado
Row in Grado
Pedestrian Street
The Camino Path
through Grado
San Juan's Albergue
The Park, entering Grado Millionaires Row in Grado Hundredaires Row in Grado Pedestrian street in Grado The True Camino<br>through Grado San Juan de V. Albergue

Tips, Tricks, and Traps

I misread or lost the waymarking about a mile before Grado, crossed a bridge over a river, and found myself on the N-634 highway. This brought me by the Hotel Palper, which was a good thing. Glad I stopped there, even though it was a Monday and the restaurant was closed. If you manage to keep to the waymarked Camino, you join the N-634 about a half mile closer to town, near the FEVE train station, with the Palper back down the highway to your left.

Leaving Grado with no regrets the next morning, I fell into a major annoyance. As you enter the urbanization, a shell pyramid at the tip of the small park in the picture above points you off to the left, across a bridge. A shell tile on the bridge reinforces this instruction, as does a yellow arrow on the side of a building a little farther on. And then these practical jokes or remnants of some earlier routing scheme just drop you, leaving you to thrash about in a useless part of town. What you must do is ignore the initial shell pyramid in the park and stay on the main N-634 road (Millionaires Row in the photo) as it passes through Grado for perhaps a half mile. Eventually the real waymarking appears and sends you up towards San Juan de Villapañada, where you may either spend a supperless night in a bunk, or if you've taken the tip about the Hotel Palper and spent the night in Grado, just get a sello and move on.

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