Molinaseca to Villafranca Del Bierzo
“Some people walk in the sunshine ; others just get hot and bothered.”
This was a long day, and a mixed bag at that. The morning began with a leisurely stroll to the medieval city of Ponferrada, which contains the Castillo de Los Templarios (Castle of the Templars), which was built in the12th century. It’s a very impressive structure which we stood and admired for some minutes before popping in to the tourist office to have our Camino passports stamped.
As is the norm, the lady doing the stamping asked where we were from, and when we replied that we were Scottish, her colleague asked where we stayed. When we said Paisley, she became very animated, explaining that she had lived in Linwood for 15 years! We didn’t get the details of exactly what or who had taken her there, but she spoke really warmly about her time in Scotland. She was thrilled to hear our accents, informing us that “most Scots I meet here seem to come from Edinburgh”. Just saying. Like I said yesterday, small world!
We decided to indulge ourselves with a hobbit-like second breakfast in one of Ponferrada’s attractive plazas (which was excellent) before heading onwards towards our next targeted coffee stop in Camponayara. This was only a further 6km down the road, but it was hot, and it’s not a race, as my wife regularly shouts at me. From there it was lunch in Cacabelos (22.6km), which proved to be a poor decision. I ordered patatas bravas, Carolyn ordered huevos rotos con carne y patatas. Neither arrived in the form we’re used to, one was bogging, the other even worse. The bravas were like giant greasy crisps with a dip. The less said about the other thing the better. In fairness, the food in Spain is generally fantastic. This was just one of those wrong turns which leads to nothing good!
The walk from Cacabelos to Villafranca saw us once again winding upwards into the hills, past several vineyards. We’re very much back in wine growing country, both red and white. We passed a vineyard that had huge bunches of green grapes hanging over the wall, just demanding to be sampled: they were sweet and juicy – absolutely delicious. Later on as we reached the outskirts of Villafranca there was a trailer filled with freshly picked red grapes. Within five minutes we passed a vineyard with about 20 people picking the grapes. It was about 3.30 in the afternoon and it was absolutely roasting hot. It just looked like the most hellish job to be doing in those conditions. One guy had a cigarette dangling from his lip as he worked – it wouldn’t have been a surprise if he’d burst into flames.
Eventually we reached our destination, had a relaxing, well earned beer in the cafe opposite our hostal (can’t see any difference between this and a hotel ), and checked in. The proprietor is the loveliest lady you could ever meet, and the place itself is immaculate. We weren’t going to bother with a meal tonight, but she announced that dinner was at 7.30 and we hadn’t the heart to decline. Our Aussie friends John,Vicky and Simon are staying/eating there as well, so that’ll be fun. And we’re due there in five minutes, so we’d better go!
Today’s album track is “Live Before I Die” by The Pompoms. Carolyn likes it because it keeps her going on long hot days when Blistardo is nibbling away at her foot, apparently.
Tomorrow it’s only 22km. Happy days!