Distance to go 216.2 Kms
What a lovely meal we had last night in the albergue followed by a decent ziz. We had lentil soup to start with then a salad then spaghetti bolognaise followed by fruit and a slice of cake. As Debbie is allergic to pineapple and thats what we had, she was offered a yoghurt instead. This all came with bread, water and of course vino tinto. I have not eaten so much bread as I have on this camino. Once you have walked 25 Kms a day or thereabouts you will eat anything and everything put in front of you. Just bring it to me!
We woke and left after some breakfast at 06:45. Most of today was hard underfoot. A good 90% was on concrete or asphalt which is tough on the feet and knees.
The first 7.5 Kms is along mostly roads into the city of Ponferrada. In the early hours the surfaces are cool and not so hard to walk on. Once the asphalt heats up it boils your feet in your boots and thats not so nice. We passed the albergue San Nicolas de Flüe. This is a big place with 210 beds but it looked really new and is by donation only. The entrance lobby was quite impressive and in the grounds is a totem pole in memory of another pilgrim cyclist killed on the roads.
The centrepiece of the city for me is the Castillo de Los Templarios. This is a magnificent 12th Century Templar castle, recently renovated, occupies the most dominant position as one would expect and opens much later than we could afford to stay and wait. Even walking alongside it you get the feeling of immense power emanating from its fortifications. This is real a ‘dont mess with me’ kind of place.
We moved on along suburban concrete paths into suburbia itself. We stopped off in the leafy suburb of Compostilla for a comfort break and a cup of tea at the aptly named Compostilla Cafe bar. It gets 3/5 for its tea. Nice cup and saucer but the place itself is a little shabby. Nonetheless, rejuvenated we moved on. The path, sometimes on gravel tracks but mainly roads arrived at the small town of Columbrianos where the Ermita San Blas Y San Roque had an impressive mural on its end wall and guardian storks. We moved on down another road described as minor in the guide book but had much more traffic along it than it should. I reckon the locals have found a short cut. Fields either side of the road containing allotments and crops did their best to alleviate some of the boredom of trudging over 2 Kms in the increasing heat.
We arrived at Fuentes Nuevas and I liked the place. A cafe at the entrance to the village provided great tea albeit in a glass but the eggy tortilla bocadilla more than made up for the 2/5 tea score it got. Other pilgrims joined us at this little oasis for a rest. We moved on. As we walked down the main street such as it was an elderly gentleman well into his 80s sitting on a bench beckoned us over. He had a bag of cherries and another of walnuts. He gave us some of each and wished us Buen Camino. This made my day. Other pilgrims were given the same special present as they passed him. He spoke no English but I could make out that they came for his garden. A little further down the same road we were passing the church of San Sebastian. I stopped to take a photo and a head appeared showing a stamp for our pilgrim passport. We entered and 2 elderly ladies showed us inside the church. I was amazed. Murals covered the domed ceiling and walls. This place is not even mentioned in the guidebook.Te ladies were so lovely. Again they spoke no English. We put a donation in their box and moved on. These unexpected moments are real treasures.
We were buoyed on by Fuentas Nuevas. Our enthusiasm was dampened quickly when we entered Camponaraya. I will not be moving to the place any time soon. It is a noisy and quite shabby town through which we had to pass and as soon as possible. A sign showed that the temperature was now 29C. I was glad to be through it and out onto an earthen track through rolling hills of vineyards. Now that was delightful. The path led down into a valley through a small wood where we paused to listen to the bird song. It was wonderful and cool and fresh.
We arrived at Cacabelos. The town seemed to go on and on. By now my feet were swimming in my boots and needed freeing pronto. Still the streets continued on. Eventually we crossed the Rio Cúa and arrived at our albergue. There are 2 proper beds in chalet style rooms arranged in a semi circle around the church of Capalla de Las Angustia. It is clean and comfortable and the showers are great.
We have showered and now its time for a small siesta to let the heat of the day drip before we venture back into town. There are no meals or cooking facilities here so we must avail ourselves of the local establishments. But for €5 a night each this will do nicely.
It has been a tough day of a different type of ‘toughness, than yesterday. Different terrain. Different challenges. But for all the moans and groans, the less than stimulating at times suburban trudges I would not be anywhere else. The Camino helps you along. More precisely the people on and along the Camino help you on. Just when you think ‘right thats it. Enough”, a friendly local gives you fruit and nuts, a fellow pilgrim beams at you and says “Hola”, a church inspires you, the scenery inspires you and suddenly the walk is not so bad after all. When you arrive at the albergue for the night and look back it is never ever that bad. In fact it is quite magnificent.
Distance walked today: 23 Kms