Last night we stayed in a very rustic albergue in the centre of what seems to be a single road village called El Acebo. We had cabbage and potato soup for lunch, a local speciality that wasn’t a hit with Pam… whilst a very kind man washed, dried and folded all our laundry.
In the evening we had a wonderful dinner in a restaurant at the start of the village; for such a small village in the middle of nowhere this place was fantastic!
This morning we left around 7:30 in search of coffee and the only place open was a very modern new albergue about 1/2 a kilometre out of town.
This place is amazing… Bar, dining room, lounge, outside terraces, swimming pool, beds with bed linen and towel hire. They still had bunk beds but big modern ones with plenty of room. This place is the face of the modern camino… And we pondered this as we walked. Our albergue was definitely on the shabby side of chic but it was a family affair and they were nice people… Will they survive if more large modern hostels open along the route? Interesting.
Anyway today we had to descend the mountains we climbed yesterday. I hate descents but today was particularly bad. It was steep and the mud was still wet and sticky from the recent rain. The paths in part are stone and in other places slate… Often covered in a layer of loose stone. I really dislike heights and hate drops… I thought at times I may go into a mini meltdown… I just wanted to stand and cry and shout “I can’t do this”… But instead we just walked… Gingerly down the path.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that there is a certain camino etiquette. Normally when folks pass, they greet each other with an Hola or a buen camino… But often we’re passed by folks who appear to be in a big hurry to get by and be on their way. Problem is when the path is difficult, as it was today, it’s sometimes hard to stand aside and get out the way. We noticed a few times today folks bearing down on us… So close on our heels… Almost issuing a command… Buen camino. It’s an empty statement and on the surface has no real sentiment. What they actually mean is I’m behind you, I’m faster and you’re blocking my way. At one stage today I very nearly turned round and snarled… Don’t f******* buen camino me! Fortunately manners got the better of me and my dignity remained intact.
On the other side of that coin we very often hear greetings from local residents as we pass by and their greetings truly are sincere and it’s so great that people still welcome pilgrims through their villages.
So after 2 hours of, for me, really horrible walking, we arrived in the very lovely town of Molinaseca. Very pretty bridge and river and a fabulous little bar serving eggs and bacon. Only 1 hour before Pam had said she was dreaming of this for breakfast… So I guess it’s true that the camino really does provide!
Refreshed and rested we walked on to Ponferrada. Again it’s noticeable how many people are counting down the kilometres to Santiago. Over the last few days there have been route options… We can follow the roads or take the scenic route. Roads are generally shorter and so most folks are choosing this option. We on the other hand are sticking to our 20km a day schedule and our route avoids the roads. So we walked into Ponferrada through vineyards and old stone villages… And very pretty it was too.
We’re staying tonight in a hostel opposite the amazing templar castle and I am looking forward to kicking off my shoes and resting my poor knees!
p.s. Moose is in Town… but we managed to pass without being spotted!