Thursday, June 7, 2018 … 31.6 km … 20 miles
Today will be a long flat day with rolling hills toward the end of the day. The early part of the day will be along city streets and suburbs. Today we will be walking through the Bierzo region with its rolling vineyards. The Bierzo area is very famous for the wineries and is apparently more famous than Rioja for its wines.
“The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on this earth”Thich Nhat Hanh
We started early but not nearly early enough for this long day. The first challenge was a nice long hill out of Molinaseca. It was along the road walking on a sidewalk. We finally topped the hill and we choose to take the scenic route. It was a little longer but worth it.
Ponferrada was the breakfast spot and it was only a short walk of seven kilometers. It was a nice day, with sun and clouds. The morning breeze was a little chilly but the day was going to beautiful.
Minh brought us so much joy along this Camino and taught me to remember the joy of life. His enthusiasm was contagious. He would let out a Wow! which would make you smile every time. Looking at life like a child and seeing the beauty in everything. Please watch the video above and see a small Wow!, usually they were bigger and louder full of laughter and joy!
The first records of Ponferrada are as a former citadel in Roman times. From the 11th century, the rise in pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela spurred the appearance of the hamlet of Pons Ferrata, located on the Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Compostela and named in this way because of the building of a bridge reinforced with iron.
In 1178, the King Fernando II of León placed this flourishing settlement under the custody of the Order of the Temple. The Knights Templar used the site of a primitive Roman fortress to build a castle in which they settled and which, at the same time, protected the passing pilgrims. This favored demographic growth and led to the commercial development of the area.Source: https://www.spain.info/en/destination/ponferrada/
We climbed our way into Ponferrada and made our way to the café. It was full so we had to sit outside, the wind was still chilly, we pulled a table into the sunshine.
Minh was a little chilly and found a solution to the wind. After he quickly ate his breakfast.
Ponferrada to Cacabelos
We didn’t make our way out of Ponferrada until almost ten. Not only did we enjoy a nice breakfast, but we also made our way to an ATM and a grocery store. We were now following the beautiful river out of town. Since it was late, we decided we better make up for the lost time. Let’s not stop again until Cacabelos which was seventeen kilometers away, ten miles.
We enjoyed our time as we walked along the Camino. Again, sometimes side by side and other times further apart but still together as a group. Minh was walking faster today. He had sent his pack ahead again to give his blisters a break from the extra weight.
Lessons along the Camino
“One of the things I love about the Camino and I strive to live my life this way daily is being present. The Camino has taught me how to do this with ease. It is all about right now and just taking the next step.
It is about enjoying every moment.
The shady spot on the path or the next café to sit and rest. Talking with fellow pilgrims as you pass them by or enjoying the quiet prayer time.
It is about the moment of awe as you look at the stunning views. Or taking that next step even though your body is tired.
It is about enjoying the beauty of nature all around you. Eating the fresh cherries right off of the tree or hearing the birds.
It is about loving every aspect of your life. Loving every step along your journey. And making the most of whatever is thrown in your way.”Mary Maddox
We had made our way seven kilometers, four miles, and a bathroom break was calling my name. I knew we were about to enter a stretch of the walk through the woods, a café would be nice right about now. We were in Camponaraya. Plenty of options, we ended up stopping at a Winery. Not a bad choice, toilet, and a sample of Bierzo Vino! By the way, it was amazing and we rested our feet for a little bit.
On a side note, when you are trying to get into the bathroom quickly, make sure no one is inside the stall. I practically ran into the stall and someone was in there. Oops, Buen Camino! We both laughed. Throughout the Camino, we would see each other and it became our inside joke.
Next stop, Cacabelos. The clouds were starting to look like rain. We walked at a quicker pace. It did start to rain but luckily it was a light shower.
The rain lightened up as we walked upon a neat little café in the woods down by the river. It was amazing. Fresh food and smoothies. We stopped and enjoyed a smoothie before entering Cacabelos. This treat gave us a boost and we walked into town.
As we entered Cacabelos, a lady was selling cherries in front of her house. Win! I was so happy.
It was two in the afternoon. Even though we still had five kilometers to walk, we decided we better get some lunch and not just a snack. So, we slipped into a restaurant and had a delicious lunch. Not only lunch but a break from the rain. Maybe it will be gone by the time we leave.
Cale just wouldn’t smile for the camera, he likes to do that to drive his Mom crazy.
But the pizza was delicious.
The final stretch
Just as we left the restaurant, Cale and I started the song. “It’s the final countdown!” This is our go-to song on the last few miles of the day.
The rain was still with us but it was off and on. We just put our heads down and walked. Everyone was tired and our feet were hurting. At one point, Cale and Minh decided it might be easier to run. So, I kid you not, the two of them took off running. They probably ran for about a half of a mile and then they were waiting for us, we were laughing the entire time. Natalie was saying, “they are crazy!”
As we topped the hill, we saw the town. We were all excited. It was cooling off and the rain was starting to fall again. Perfect time to arrive at our hostel.
Villafranca del Bierzo was our resting place tonight. This medieval town was sometimes referred to as the other Santiago. Medieval pilgrims unable to continue to Santiago received absolution here, the same as they would in Santiago.
It was almost five. I would say that was a full day. We were ready to relax and rest. It really started raining now and it was chilly. Glad to be inside and out of the rain. Also glad that our Hostel offered dinner and breakfast, no need to go anywhere tonight!
Our Hostel: Albergue Ave Felix, 80 beds, 6 Euros
Our hostel was pretty cool. Stone walls, bunk rooms, blankets, and a great gathering area. We showered, did laundry, and played some cards until dinner. We met some new pilgrims tonight and enjoyed their company. The communal dinner was fun. It’s always nice having dinner with other pilgrims and meeting so many new people.
Thursday June 7th, 31 kms
Today was a long day. We walked around 31 kilometers. The weather was nice for most of the day and rain started later in the day.
Our day was blessed!
Cherries, long gravel roads, laughter, prayer, quiet time, singing, running (Minh and Cale), walking, eating lunch in Cacabelos, talking, and fun.
Great community dinner, great Albergue Ave Felix. Met new friends, great food, slept in a loft and had fun.
I felt joyful all day!
“When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves”.Buddha
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