Day 31 – Ponferrada to Villafranca

Posted from Villafranca del Bierzo, Castile and León, Spain.

Well today I was back on the camino. It’s always interesting leaving a large city. I start on large streets, walk through business neighborhoods, apartments and houses. I cross highways but it always seems the city suddenly ends and I’m in the country. True to form that happened today. I thought this countryside was particularly attractive.

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There were many vineyards, it appeared the harvest had already happened. The grapevine leaves were changing color from green to yellow and orange.

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The temperatures seemed warmer today. The skies were partly cloudy and there was a little mist in the hills. For the first time in days I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt. My blister was much improved. Walking felt good. I stopped at a pharmacy and bought done additional antiseptic recommended by my camino doctor.

As I passed through one small village I came across a cute group of kittens and took their photo for Carolyn (and Tom and LD).

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It’s been very interesting all through Spain to see the condition of some of the buildings. These towns have been around for centuries but many are in a real state of decline. There will be buildings clearly inhabited (though I rarely see people, especially young people) but right next door will be a building totally in ruin.

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On the advice of my camino doctor I kept my walk relatively short today. I walked about four hours mostly in wonderful hilly terrain. I arrived on the outskirts of Villafranche and stopped at the municipal albergue. It was in a nice building looking out on the village. The room on the 2nd floor even had a door out onto a balcony. I did my clothes and hung them to dry.

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I wandered into town. There was an old castle, several really great churches and a nice old town. I bought some groceries (stuff sure is heavy) and sat in the square for a beer. It was a nice town.

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Because of my delay with the blister I’m in a new group of pilgrims. I’ve only seen one person I know. On top of that I’m staying at a municipal albergue so it’s a different group then at the private ones. They are younger and mostly European.

I’m in a room of only 8 beds. When I arrived there were two young guys there. They seemed rather clean, nice things and lots of stuff. We chatted. They were from Barcelona. One asked where I had started from. I replied St Jean 30 days ago. He seemed amazed. I asked where he started. He said “this morning from Ponferrada”. Newbies, they have much to learn.

As the camino approaches Santiago more and more new people start so it will be interesting to see how things change. I will intentionally now stay off the recommended stopping points from the book but will pick intermediate places to hopefully avoid the larger crowds.

The camino now enters Galatia. It is mire mountainous, more rainy (hopefully not too much) and have more forests. It is suppose to be some of the most beautiful scenery of the trip.