From Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo
Day 20, Thursday 12 September 2013
Distance to Santiago: 212,4 km
We started early, leaving for Villafranca del Bierzo while it was still dark. We walked on tar road for a while and walked through the small village of Campo before we reached Ponferrada where we had breakfast.
Ponferrada is a modern town and the capital of El Bierzo. Castillo de los Templarios from 12th century was renovated and used as exhibition centre where replicas of Templar and other religious texts are displayed in Templum Libri. Iglesia San Andres. Plaza Virgen de la Encina with Basilica de la Encina, a church built in the Renaissance style in 1573. Its baroque tower dates from 1614.
The camino today is relatively flat in contrast with yesterday. Walking through Columbrianos with the small chapel with its colourful pilgrim mural. This patio is a vineyard and garden in one, observed walking through Fuentes Nuevas.
We walked through green vineyards with the rippling sound of water from irrigation water furrows. The landscape contributed to the serenity, modesty and harmony I felt in my heart. Soon, when walking into the heat of the day the walk became less enjoyable. We walked through the small villages of Camponaraya and Cacabelos, which had several places where you could get Vinas del Bierzo.
We reached Villafranca del Bierzo at approximately 16:00, exhausted, sweaty, hot and thirsty.
Medieval pilgrims unable to continue to Santiago received absolution here, the same as they would in Santiago. On this account Villafranca del Bierzo was sometimes referred to as the other Santiago. We booked in at Albergue Ave Fenix for €5 for the night. My first impression of the place was not positive because the owner smelt of alcohol, the place appeared not neat and clean with non-working rusting washing machines. The exhaustion of walking nearly 32 km prevented to leave to find another place. We declined the offering of a communal pilgrim supper, followed by the mystical Queimada.
Later a group of young Germans also booked in and German chattering was interesting to listen to, trying to follow the gist.
Before retiring we sprayed preventative bedbug spray on the bed bunks and hoped for a good night’s rest.
We walked 31,9 km for the day.