Only 24kms today as I was still a little tired from yesterday’s effort.
Cannot believe for autumn how hot it is. Have now had 2 days in a row of over 30 degrees and now being back in mountainous countryside it is very hard on the old Bod!
I think I have mentioned before how incredibly kind and lovely the Spanish people are. This morning I left Ponferrada at about 7.15 and it was dark. Met up with csubba my Hungarian friend and we walked out of town together. We missed an arrow and we’re heading down the wrong street when we heard this big whistle and a oi in Spanish and here was a lovely old gentleman out the front of his house telling us we had taken the wrong road for the Camino so he then walked us out of town to make sure we got out safely and on the right track.
The other week I was in Burgos a little lost standing on a street corner with my map in hand and a little old lady with absolutely no English came over and offered to help me and show me which way to go.
The same in Astorga I was again standing on a street corner with my map and not only did a little old lady with no English but a man pushing another man in a wheelchair all came up to help me find where I was going. Not one word of English was spoken but I have to say my Spanish has improved somewhat and with hand signals and a few words I understood I was able to find my way.
Apparently the pilgrimage to Santiago has now become so popular (450 people left St Jean Pied de Port the same day as I did to walk the Camino) that a lot of towns that were becoming almost ghost towns are now experiencing a huge rebirth with the amount of pilgrims passing through their villages and needing an albergue to stay in.
The town of Foncebadon that I stayed in the night before last, 4 years ago was almost non existent but now there are new albergue’s and supermarket all for pilgrims and businesses are booming. I am extremely happy to be contributing to the Spanish economy as they are so friendly. You walk through their villages or even the big towns and they all say Hola, buenos dias and buen Camino all with a huge smile on their faces.
The countryside has changed yet again and now back into mountainous countryside with grape vines everywhere.
I know over the last few days I have been going on about seeing UFOs but today I think I passed a witches house. Yes there was a huge cauldron hanging outside the house
I have also seen new Camino signs
I walked with Csubbi (pronounced Chubby) for a few kms, stopped in Fuentes Nuevas for my usual brekky of grande cafe con leche, zumo de naranjo y tortilla – yes I am pretty fluent now!!!!
Got to Camonaraya and Csubbi had to do some shopping so I walked on and yet another glorious day.
Even though it is still really hot the autumn tones are now starting to show and it is really beautiful. That is one thing we don’t really see in sydney is the turning of the leaves. Unless you are in the blue mountains or the southern highlands
I had been told that the Way from Astorga to Santiago was the most beautiful and of course I am not there yet but it certainly is stunning. I don’t want to compare though because every part of The Way has been beautiful in its own unique way.
The villages I think are changing a little bit and some of them look a little Swiss or German. I just love the pots of geraniums and petunias out the front of everyone’s houses.
I am now less than 200kms to Santiago which means I am now in Galicia another beautiful part of Spain.
Got into Villafranca del Bierzo at about 1.30 and my body said STOP! I have been walking 7 days a week between 6-7 hours a day and suddenly my feet are tired. I noticed a few days ago when I decided to wash a bit of dust off my boots that the soles of my shoes that were like tire treads when I left and very new are now worn away at the heels and am hoping they make it to Santiago. This may contribute to my sore feet or I am just hot and tired! Only time will tell.
Villafranca is a very pretty town nestled in the hills with a river running through it. My fist sight of the town was of course the big church which is the first thing you see in every town in Spain.
The church here is a 12th century Romanesque church with its north door being the ‘Door of Forgiveness’. This is where medieval pilgrims unable to continue to Santiago received absolution and a compostella. In this account Villafranca was sometimes referred to as ‘little Santiago’. This town started to develop in the 11th century.
Found my albergue for the night and there were only 2 other people who checked in at the same time so after we had our showers and done our washing Frances from Barcelona and Kristina from Slovakia asked me if I would like to join them for lunch. So lovely and friendly. We found a nice up market restaurant and went in and they had a pilgrims menu which was delicious. Mixed salad and bread, I had local trout from the river which was delicious and rice pudding. Of course together with the mandatory bottle of red wine all for €11.
So after a quiet afternoon of resting my body another pilgrim I have met, Joanna from Melbourne arrived and we decided to go into town for a sangria.
Met Frances on the way and we wandered into the plaza for drinks and dinner.
Of course once you get to a central area you run into so many other pilgrims you have met on the way.
So Joanna, Frances and I were sitting enjoying a drink – amazing sangria
And along comes my 2 boys Oswin and Kian who stopped for a chat then off to have dinner and then Pierre from Quebec joined us but he went off for a meal then Frances had to leave but Kristina from lunch joined us and then Raphael from Brazil that I had met on the way and then to top it off here was my lovely friend Gil from Brazil and we started the walk together in St Jean. So we all sat down and had drinks, meals, conversations and lots of laughs
Here are a few extras from the day
Joanna and I doing a selfie looking back over the bridge at Villafranca
The mandatory pilgrim and the sign of the Way beside him (the shell)
And as a final good night my feet with the sign of the Way
So until mañana buenos noches.