Friday, November 6 – Day 56
I woke up at 4 and was pretty wide awake. When I did fall back asleep, I didn’t want to get up. Breakfast didn’t start till 8, so I used it as an excuse to keep sleeping. But because I didn’t get ready before breakfast, I didn’t get on my way until just before 9.
I had been worried about being in the mountains again and how my body would handle it, especially after being 2 months out. The middle of Spain was so flat, that whenever there was a small incline or one step, my whole body would protest. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. I handled it really well. I also didn’t hurt too much on the downhill, so hopefully that will continue.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and I spent the first 1:45 walking down the mountain. I could see Ponferrada in the valley. I passed through one small village halfway down, and then there was a steep descent into Molinaseca.
The first part of the day was very nice, but what I didn’t realize is that almost the whole day would be on sidewalks or asphalt.
The walk into Ponferrada would have been nicer if there was dirt to walk on, but the city itself was very different than any I’d previously been in, so that was nice.
I passed a couple of very friendly, fluffy cats who wanted a lot of attention. One of them especially liked her head rubbed.
As I got into what appeared to be the old town of Ponferrada, I saw a big castle thing, and the door was open. I went to go look to see what i was. It was an old Knights Templar castle. There was a sign that said regular admission was 6 E, and the reduced rate of 4 E said nothing about pilgrims. As i was standing there looking at the sign, two pilgrims passed me and went in, so I followed. At the ticket booth she told them it was 6 E, and they begged and pleaded for the poor pilgrims to have the reduced rate until she relented. I went to the window and gave her a sheepish grin, and she gave me “the look” then said something in Spanish and then said it would be 4 E. I was in the right place at the right time!
Except the whole thing was kind of stupid and definitely not worth 6 E. They kind of had a museum built throughout the structure, but it wasn’t that interesting. There had been a lot of restoration or entirely new buildings, but most of the places were closed or shut off. It did, however, allow me to take some pictures of the city I wouldn’t have been able to get any other way, so that was cool.
I headed back on my way, and at this point I was hungry and wanted lunch. There were a few bars on the square, but I kept going, and those bars had been the only places to eat on the route through Ponferrada. I had to keep going.
I passed by a sign that advertised pilgrim lunch at a hotel, and then I realized I was right behind the hotel.
I had a very nice, huge lunch for only 10 E. I had rice and chicken, then beef, then “chocolate cake,” which turned out to be mousse, but it was very good.
As I sat at lunch I was looking at how far I still had to go, and I seriously debated just staying there at the hotel, but I’d only gone about 20k. My feet were tired from the road walking and it was already 2:30. If I kept going, the next place that had private rooms was 12k.
I finally decided to keep going, and regretted that decision a few times, but once I had started I had to keep going forward.
In Camponaraya, I saw an advertisement for a 3 star hotel with a breakfast buffet, “to restore your strength.” I checked my book, and it was only 6 E more than the place I wanted to stay and a breakfast buffet was included. I was sold. I also really, really hoped it had a bathtub.
It was a long, painful afternoon, but after a while I got into a rhythm and my foot pain didn’t get any worse.
I ended up walking about 32k today, including walking down a mountain, but I did it!
I’m in Cacabelos. The hotel is a bit of a joke. I’ve stayed in some nicer albergues. Unfortunately no bathtub, and the only two outlets in the room are highly inconvenient. One is in the bathroom, and the other is above the tv, so the power cord doesn’t reach down to the desk. All of the possible outlets in the room are light switches, and half of them don’t even do anything.
Anyway, there are sheets, the bed is mostly comfortable I think, and that buffet better be worth it!
The hotel does not have food, at least, not in November. I walked to an albergue that had a restaurant attached. I wasn’t super hungry because I had a big lunch, but I knew I should eat.
I got pasta salad, bbq beef, and santiago cake.
I stopped at a grocery on the way back to get some food for tomorrow. I’m planning on taking a mountain route that may not go through a town at lunchtime.