Day 1 – Oviedo to Paladín

13.5 miles/21.7km from Oviedo to Paladín

Oviedo was the starting point of the very first Camino de Santiago. “Camino Primitivo” actually means “the Original Route,” and the city prides itself on being the “origin of the Camino.”

2,000 years ago, a Roman trade route that traversed Spain formed the basis for the Camino later on in the Middle Ages. In 814, King Alfonso II “the Chaste” of Asturias embarked on the first Camino to Santiago de Compostela, which at the time wasn’t a city but a hill called Mount Librédon where the remains of the Apostle Saint James were said to be buried. Alfonso is said to have established the first shrine to Saint James there, which ultimately evolved into the splendid Cathedral there today. The Primitivo was the route most pilgrims walked until the princes of Asturias shifted their capital from mountainous Oviedo to flat León, thus allowing the Camino Francès (“French Way”) to become the more popular Camino route through northern Spain.

David and I met in the morning at Oviedo’s Cathedral, the “Catedral Metropolitana de El Salvador de Oviedo,” which was built in the 800s AD. It is dedicated to El Salvador (Jesus, “The Savior”), and so a common practice for pilgrims was to pay homage to the Savior before embarking on a journey to pay respects to Saint James, who was one of the Savior’s followers. I pondered that as we kicked off our 4th journey through Spain. Within an hour we had left urban Oviedo and were walking up and down hills amidst absolutely beautiful country.

It had been a LONG time since either of us has done a long trek like this, carrying backpacks, and so aches and pains typical to the first days of these things began to set in after a few hours. The weather was cool but with humidity at literally 99%, the many uphill climbs of the Camino Primitivo left us drenched with sweat at every turn. And, the STONES sweat too! The pervasive humidity made any stone or rough concrete path literally glisten with moisture, and very slippery to walk on no matter how good your hiking shoes are.

Passing by several small churches afforded me the opportunity to say a few words about Mom and also to envision a brighter future. After several hours (including lunch/rest/stretch breaks), we reached our destination for the day, the village of Paladín. We stayed at a delightful albergue called Villa Palatina. It is a brand new, but a warm and restful place, and we slept well (and early!) after today’s hike.