Thanks!

bi7Last night we stayed in a very nice hostel opposite the templar castle in Ponferrada.   I had my own little room and it was kind of strange to have so much space and quiet… I think I missed everyone!

Earlier we had toured the castle but it made me feel homesick. I was there last year with Gerry so it felt too familiar.  I felt oddly lonely, so I left Teresa and Pam to finish their visit and waited in a nearby cafe.  We ate out in a wonderful pizza restaurant in the old town and went off piste from the  pilgrims menu… Good choice too and we left stuffed and happy.

We woke to the pitter patter of rain and we knew it was going to be a poncho kind of day.   We left Ponferrada in the grey morning light of a quiet autumn Sunday and even though it was wet I got to thinking about all the things I should be thankful for.

I know yesterday I moaned about the buen camino greetings but in reality 99% (well maybe 95% then) are sincere and well meant… And almost always followed by a smile.   Local people very often stop and say hello and wish us well.  The kindness of strangers is truly amazing considering how many people walk this path every day. I remembered a chap who was laying paving slabs way back before Punta La Reina who looked up and greeted me as I passed… he looked like he’d laid a lot of slabs that day so he’d maybe greeted 200 people.

bi17

I thought about our journey and all the wonderful diverse people I’ve met. I thought about the new friends I’ve made and I thought about how lucky I am to have teamed up with Teresa and Pam.   I first was aware of these two ladies in Vianna… I think the first time we really talked was at Granon.   The following few days we seemed to meet up most evenings and when I decided that I couldn’t keep pace with Catherine it was these ladies who said walk with us.

Teresa is the map reader… I’ve become totally dependant on her directions. .. She has her map and little compass and she gets us from A to B.   Pam is the carer… She has always made sure I drink mineral drinks and she took care of my blister when it was bad.   Both of these ladies are kind and funny and thoughtful and I am very grateful that they have allowed me to crash their party.

As we walked in the rain I heard the Sunday morning church bells ringing and it sounded wonderful and I am happy to be here and to have this opportunity.

We walked into a tiny cafe in Columbrianos for morning coffee… Everyone is damp and cold but we are still greeted with a smile.   As we left we asked a few old Spanish chaps outside if it would rain tomorrow… We think they said maybe, but they also said it would be dry for O Cebreiro… And that was good news. They smiled and wished us well and one old chap started clapping a flamenco rhythm… So I swished my poncho and waved my arms and danced a little in the rain and someone cheered ole and we all laughed.   And it’s this spirit that I’m thankful for.

The rain stopped and the sun tried to shine and all around there were the most beautiful views.  We stopped for lunch at Cacabelos and I think I took a zillion photos in the hope that just one or two convey the beauty of this area.

We arrived in Villafranca del Bierzo as the rain started again and we almost stumbled upon the most beautiful albergue. It’s new and we have a room for 6 but only us here. I had the hottest of hot showers. We have a belly full of delicious food and really life is really rather good.

As always many thanks for the comments… I looked today and my little blog has had almost 1700 views… I’m happy that folks are enjoying sharing the journey…  Feel free to share.   Tomorrow I’ll try and answer all your questions… As well as update you on progress.

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7 thoughts on “Thanks!

  1. sorry I meant beaUtiful and CAmino.
    Also in your last post someone asks which guide — I'm not sure which is best because they all recommend places and it never exactly fits your schedule. One day you feel like walking and do 35 km. Another, you have a blister and it's raining so you only do 15 km. Most people average 20 km so the walk takes 40 days plus rest days, some manage 35 km on average so it takes 20-25 days. The guides assume you are going at a certain pace so don't fit your personal rhythm.
    Essential is the map with profiles – also available on the internet and at St. Jean Pied De Port because for example Astorga to Cruz de Ferro is only 27 km – possible in a day but the profile shows you the horrible climb all uphill from 800 m altitude to 1500 m altitude – an elevation gain of 700 m !!!!! and then you still have to go down for 9 km to El Acebo and as everyone knows downhill is hard – less effort but slow and sometimes dangerous if rocky and slippery.
    My map is a geoplaneta map 413133 isbn 9 788408 060512 but the same profiles are on the internet and also give distances between hostels and altitude gains and losses on each stage. They are usually spaced out every 5,6,7,8,9,10 kms so you can work out your own day by doing 5,8,4 = 17 or 6,4,6,9 =25 or (for the strenuous) 8,4,6,7,10 = 35 – so that you choose between a 17km day or a 25 km day or a 35 km day if feeling good that day! In any case, the Camino gossip sometimes says “Don't go to THAT hostel in San Juan – either go to the other or walk on to Ages – only 4 km more.” So be flexible and alter your schedule either for physical reasons or from recommendations.” In any case having a fixed schedule is a disaster waiting to happen.

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  2. great news and the photos in the rain remind me of the meseta with those beatiful but dangerous storm clouds threatening you. Oh Comino! Camino!

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  3. Loving your blog and your photographs – full of admiration for you and so proud to call you my friend. Keep on taking those “Tiny” steps ! XXX Jan

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