07/05/14 From Molinaseca I walked to the town of Villafranca Del Bierzo which was about 31kms and I was pleased to have arrived at 3:15pm (taking about 8 hours with a few stops and picture breaks along the way).
The first 10km or so was rather boring as you travelled along a road, but Peter from Brighton and I chatted and stopped for snacks etc to break it up slightly. Ponferrada, which we passed through, was an interesting town with a magnificent 12th century Templar castle, recently declared a national monument. Unfortunately we were a little early and it hadn't opened for the day so I didn't get to see inside, but at least I have seen it up close.
There were lots of streams, bridges, natural fountains and churches again today, of note a small 10th century church in Cacabelos (think the only original item though is the apse). Also lots of vineyards today as we enter the Bierzo wine region (quite well respected wines apparently). Slight incline into Villafranca was ok, but hurt a bit after 28 odd kilometers. Beautiful town with the Church of Santiago and a large palace, which was almost destroyed during the Peninsular
War of 1808, greeting you as you walk in from the main route.
Met up with the Liverpool trio (Gary has now hurt his knee and looks like trip over), Ruth and Mariana at dinner. There was also Pedro from Italy (the most fashionable person on the Camino I would guess) and Suzy from California who amazingly enough decided to start the Camino from Ponferrada only 5 days before!!! Surprised to see her walking in nothing more than saddles, a shopping bag with water and fruit and full make up! Really enjoying meeting people on the track, so many interesting stories and lives and most people are bilingual, making me feel rather ignorant actually.
Had a rest day in Villafranca 08/05/14 to stretch out and explore the city, great place with an amazing garden / park in the middle of town and a busy Plaza in the centre. Stayed at the La Puerta del Perdon which was fantastic, great bed and they did my washing so I didn't need to for once!
Today 09/05/14 I went from Villafranca to Ambasmestas, about 17km. I was going to take the road today like most others, but decided to try
the 'recommended route'. Here I met Reinhart, an older German man who spends 11 months of the year on walking tracks around the world. Just him and his backpack doing it cheaply and discovering the world. He's very fit, skinny and happy and he chatted and chatted most of the morning, very interesting man, inspiring actually with his knowledge of local plants and history of the world. It was rather hard for the first 5-6km with a steep incline that didn't seem to let up (about this time I was wishing I had taken the road), but once at the summit and I was walking through a pine forest I was pleased I was on this route. Downhill was also very steep, but the track was pretty stable so all good.
At the bottom of the range I left Reinhart as he was staying in Trabadelo and walked through the valley to Ambasmestas on my own. Mainly road here which was quite boring, but gave me a chance to clear my head and just walk and think.
Ambasmestas is a very small traditional village but the people are friendly and the food looks good. Keen for a green
salad or ensaladas mixtas as they say, as there are not many veges offered at meal times. I have been going to Tiendas (corner stores) and buying kiwi fruit, apricots and nuts where possible, and the most amazing cranberries which are fresh and plump.
Tomorrow is another steep incline, this time to alto 1,310m up to O'Cebreiro. My accommodation is in Sabugos tomorrow night as O'Cebreiro is full so it's about a 22km walk all up, not adjusted for climb!
Missing the family terribly, thank god for wifi and Skype / Viber. I was brought to tears a few minutes ago learning of a bus accident in the region that has taken the lives of 6 children under 10 who were on a football trip, such a terrible tragedy. I thought of my kids and how I wish they were here with me right now, I'm missing Caitlin's long stories, Fred's laugh and the cuddles. Also wish Dan was here to share this amazing experience and to motivated me at times when I think this was a crazy idea.
Anywho, on and up tomorrow!
Tot: 2.659s; Tpl: 0.125s; cc: 12; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0358s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb