Saturday, May 21, 2022

Day 28 - 20 May - Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo

As the Delta Rhythm Boys famously sang:

Well, your toe bone connected to your foot bone
Your foot bone connected to your heel bone
Your heel bone connected to your ankle bone               

Not necessarily all of the time though                     

I hear the word of the Lord!

Following yesterday’s hard sixteen miles, what on earth were we thinking doing nineteen miles today? But that’s what we had planned so we hit the road out of Molinaseca shortly after seven o’clock. Our first target was the city of Ponferrada, four and a half miles away. The walk in to Ponferrada was uninspiring whilst the walk out was pleasant but the bit in the middle was wonderful. The city centre is spectacular Spain, aided and abetted by Los Templarios castle with its moat and drawbridge.

Ponferrada, Molinaseca and the villages we passed through yesterday are definitely on our must-come-back-and-visit-properly list. But with over fourteen miles still to go, we settled for coffee and a chocolate croissant and we were on our way again.

We passed through the village of Columbrianos and on to Fuentes Nueves where I had a beer. It was still early but we had already done eight miles and it was getting hot. We had been walking along the road for much of this time, with a flat landscape between the mountains on either side and passing fields of crops and smallholdings and lots of poppies. The scenery was beautiful. But it was getting hotter. 

Another four miles on and we were entering the town of Cacabelos (another little gem) in the company of Tony and Pat (UK) who we hadn’t seen for four or five days. Since we last saw them, Tony has treated himself to a new pair of walking shoes which appear to have been fitted with a warp-speed drive which now makes him the fastest thing on two legs. They were stopping in Cacabelos so we had a quick beer with them and were off again. 

The temperature was now around thirty degrees and with more to come so it needed a concerted head-down to get to Villafranca del Bierzo, our destination for the night, as quickly as we could. This was easier said than done with constant breaks required for water and a sit down, one such break in the shade of a tree which turned out to be a cherry tree with a few ripe and ready-for-picking cherries which had our names on them. 

Less than a mile from Villafranca, in the middle of nowhere, a young lady had set up a couple of chairs and a table - with amazing views - and was selling cold drinks. I admire genuine entrepreneurialism and was more than happy to shell out two euros for a small can of Amstel whilst Mrs C had a softee at similar toppish price. It was the most welcome rest break of the whole Camino thus far.

Into Villafranca - another beautiful little town - where we located our accommodation which was lovely. We were jiggered. We made it as far as the bar next door and then a hostal restaurant just down the street. When later exiting the restaurant, I noticed a thirty-something peregrino with cuts to his face and his arm in a sling - he had obviously taken a very recent fall. Back in Castrojeriz, we saw a woman with similar facial lacerations and it turned out that she had broken her collarbone in a fall. Thankfully, as reported yesterday, Gerhard’s foot was still attached when we last saw him but the number of people we have met with foot problems grows by the day. And of course there was yesterday’s unsavoury incident where an unsuspecting tree was attacked by a mad woman.

This going for a long walk malarkey clearly attracts some people who don’t know when they’ve had enough. Thankfully, Mrs C and I do know when we’ve had enough but fortunately we’re not quite there yet.

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