Day 21: Ponferrada to Trabadelo

Templar castle in the a.m.

Quick update on Guelane: He enjoyed his first joint dinner last night together with his Italian camino friends. They cooked together (not sure what Guelane cooked as of time of writing). Seemed he liked the experience very much.

My day didn’t start overly early at c7am. One Italian couple was already busy packing, the other slept in and may even have stayed another day owing to leg issues of the female companion. quick cafe con leche and an avocado I had left from yesterday. off we go.
The camino led one last time past the miraculous templar castle and then out of town. I bumped into a swedish couple that I first met leaving Leon. One judge, the other court clerk on their annual leave. nice discussion for the first 9km. then  I took a break for the second breakfast.
Leaving Ponferrada
Villafranca del Bierzo

some familiar faces. the polish guy (also from way out of leon) that was about to leave and an older Irish guy (first met in Terradillos before mass). The latter is on his second full camino, but he has been here often for individual sections.

he mentioned how the number of hostels and bars (read small restaurants / kiosks) has grown a lot over the years. not surprising looking at the rise in visitors (240k in 2014, 70k in 2005). This year, as I have just learned, numbers are on a 6y low according to estimates of some. i guess I can consider myself lucky.

pilgrim target ads!

in general the camino is getting ever more touristic as one approaches santiago. but who am I to complain being one of the spiritual pilgrims (as so many) rather than religious and equipped with a full (rather than empty) wallet. its a business (my earlier estimate of EUR1bn GDP p.a. is probably too low) and who wouldn’t do the same. still, some prices etc are just over the top at 2-3x super market prices for water and fruit in smaller shops and also overpriced pilgrim meals.

Jupi @ work
Not so nice camino

by lunch i had covered 25km and arrived in villafranca del Bierzo, which even included a brief chat with Jupi ( german exile who switched from stone mason to wood carver … that wooden shell he did was an easy buy for me!). unofficially the capital of the Bierzo region. It hosts a number of churches including the Iglesia de Santiago where sick and injured are granted the same indulgence as in Santiago. I had the pilgrims meal consisting of russian salad (Olivier like, not quite the same) and grilled salmon.

with new strength I decided to continue to Trabadelo. at least i would be more rested for the last mountain stage to o cebreiro tomorrow. the way to trabadelo was pretty horrible and essentially all the 9km alongside the A-6 highway. at least it was walled off and safe. during the last bit of the walk I was under constant fly attack (smelly me!) and i was very glad to check into an empty municipal hostel. shower, clothes washing, little rest. also met a viper on the way in!

Not so nice v2
Steep stuff: a graveyard
for dinner there was only one option. on my way through the village I passed by a gastro pub offering south korean ramen soup. a winner! I had been looking for asian food for quite some time as I am bored and sick of tortilla & jamon. there is simply not diversity in Spanish village food and even in cities one has to look closely for non-spanish food options. so much – it was spicy & delicious and I owe thanks to the dutch lady that runs the place.

the church service at 7pm as advertised in the albergo proved elusive as did the swimming pool that was on the big signpost before the village entrance. according to Facebook i might pass by this natural pool tomorrow, but doubt i will feel the same desire to swim again. on the other, i finally did meet some familiar faces. two canadian women (helen & … i forgot again … but thanks for the peppermint tea!) that we met over paella in  El Burgo and Peter (Belgium).

First BBQ spot on camino!

Really nice conversation about the camino & general views on religion amongst a host of other topics (mobile data charges, pros of having your own well, do compede’s help or not [apparently not for pressure induced blisters] etc). then it was time to head home, check laundry and get some rest for tomorrow’s climb – advertised as one (if not the) most beautiful stage on the way.

Cheaters (or just petrol pilgrims?)


update on progress: 170km to go … piece of cake ;o)

update on guelane: still 8-9km behind. stayed in nice albergo in Villafranca. Doing well.


Catch of the day!
Home of first Asian food!
Asp Viper: 4% of untreated cases fatal

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