CAMINO FRANCES – DAY 21

MOLINASECA – VILLAFRANCA

17 APRIL

30.9km

Today was our second time on the Camino of walking 30km on a single day and with this in mind, we decided to leave really early – even before sunrise. There is something majestically about walking this time of the morning … to see dawn changes into a sunny day.

As we arrived in Ponferrada (the next town), most of the pilgrims that spent the night there, were just starting to leave their albergues. We had to carefully negotiate our way through the city in order to stay on the Camino.

The Camino took us through the medieval city of Ponferrada

Yesterday I read in Brierley’s guide book that you can taste wine in the towns on the way to Villafranca. I quickly realised why … today we walked through one vineyard after the next one. It reminded us of the farms and vineyards in the small towns of Lutzville and Vredendal in the Western Cape back in South Africa. I wasn’t sure if wine tasting would be such a good idea … especially if we had to walk more than 30km! So instead we just walked through each town (while drinking our water).

Many vineyards on our way to Villafranca

As it was getting hot, we had to pack away our jackets. My feet complained for the first time since Burgos … I was not sure whether it was due to the blisters or because it was hot. There was not a lot of shade while we walked up and down the hills with vineyards as far as the eyes could see.

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A little shade under the trees next to the road – about 5km from Villafranca

Close to Villafranca we walked past one of the pilgrims we saw during our first week. He’s from Germany and also complained about the heat. I was very happy that we were almost in Villafranca and was looking forward getting my hiking sandals off and to sit down (preferably under an umbrella).

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The first sight of Villafranca

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Over the Burbia River in Villafranca

And once again we chosen an albergue at the very end of the town. Well, on the positive side, it means the road will be shorter tomorrow, but after a long and hot day, it surely takes a lot of willpower to walk THROUGH a town to your albergue! That can sometimes add 2-3km to the day’s walking!

Our Albergue De la Piedra did not disappoint – it is a private albergue and very modern. For the first time in three weeks we received a private room – how amazing is this! It was very small, but felt as if we walked into a 5-star hotel!

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A tired pilgrim in front of Albergue De la Piedra

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Modern reception area at Albergue De la Piedra

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Opposite our albergue was the Valcarce River – medicine for hot and tired feet!

After a well deserved shower, we have walked back into town to one of the many restaurants where hamburgers and cold ‘cervezas’ awaited us. We didn’t really explore the town today – we were just too tired after walking 30km in extremely hot weather – and instead spent a relaxing afternoon in our room overlooking the river.

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‘Only’ 200km to Santiago

We went to bed early. Tomorrow will be another 30km hike, which promise to be a very strenuous walk up a mountain to O Cebreiro.

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