I stayed the night in a new albergue attached to a spa hotel in El Acerbo. Nice place in a nice village. In fact it was probably the most well appointed albergue I stayed at. All for 10 euros.
Although the descent into Molinaseca was tough I enjoyed the walking. Molinaseca is one of the nicest small towns on the route and I’m going to stay a few days there on my tour by car next year. Next up is Ponferrada, a bigger town with a historical centre and a castle. I paused there only for coffee, and carried on to Cacabelos, which I liked.
There were three albergues on the list, which were bang on the route. I chose the middle one for 10 euros. Next day I found out that the municipal, at the far end of the town, was outstanding, and probably the best municipal albergue on the entire Camino. Ah well, maybe next time. My roommates were two Romanian women one of whom, Anna, turned out to be a champion snorer. Her friend Marianna, who I came across the next day, told me Anna had taken a bus. Charming. Kept us all awake and then takes a bus.
Once again there is a choice of routes outside of Cacabelos. The boring shorter road route or the longer, more interesting way through the vineyards. This is wine country. Last night, talking to the restaurant owner, I learned a lot about the area of El Bierzo and it’s wines so now I took the longer route through the vineyards and the tiny village of Valtuille de Arriba. Four cars passed me on the dirt road coming out of this tiny place and I had to step off the track. Rush hour. A kilometre later I saw the cars parked up. They had been delivering the grape pickers to the fields and those guys were busy on the very first stage in the process of getting me drunk. A couple of the guys saw me taking pictures and struck a pose.
I walked through Villafranca del Bierzo, a very nice small town. Bob and I had stayed here last year. We had a great steak here, cooked by a chef. Not just a man dressed like a chef. There’s a big difference.
The walking was pleasant and I caught up with Kathy from Harrogate and we had coffee. Bumped into a few others from my camino ‘family’ and it wasn’t long before I reached Last Herrerias. I had picked this village to stay in as it is at the bottom of the long steep climb to O Cebreiro, a killer.
Amy (California) was at a roadside bar and I joined her. She had a reservation in the small hotel there. She told me that the limited accommodation was filling up fast and that one of the two albergues was full already. Ten yards away was Albergue Miriam and I snagged the last bed.
Last Herrerias is a nice place with kind of a hippie vibe. There’s a tree of dreams. A little slant on a wishing well. You write down your dream and hang it from the tree. Paper, pen, and ribbon supplied. With tomorrows big uphill in mind, I wrote :
‘One motorcycle, preferably a Kawasaki ZX-10RR, half a tank of fuel. One leather jacket. One pair of gauntlets. One helmet (blue).’
Job done. I hung it on the tree.
I had spotted a nice looking restaurant at the beginning of town and told Amy. She knew the place and told me that last year she had a great dinner there. I had one of the best wines I have ever tasted. It was about 10 euros a bottle, max. Dinner was good too. Amy insisted on picking up the bill. Very nice of her.
About 9.00 Amy split and I found three Australians drinking outside the only bar still open. The bar closed around 11.30 and I zig zagged the 50 metres home. Everyone in the sixteen bunk room was asleep. Not for long though. As I stealthily climbed up to my top bunk, like a ninja, the ladder became detached and I fell on someone’s bag. Then the metal ladder fell, bounced off me, and slid across the tiled floor. Funny. But I was the only one laughing. Whoops, sorry everyone.
After coffee at 6.00 I went to the tree of dreams to pick up my motorcycle. Except it wasn’t there. Y’know I was sceptical about that tree all along. I had never heard of a wishing tree before. Wells, yes. Genies, yes. Fairy Godmothers, yes. But never trees. Someone is taking the piss. Like that guy I bought the magic beans from that time.
I set off on foot.
It was still dark and although I had my torch I was startled by a fellow pilgrim emerging from the trees by the side of the trail. Oh well that answered a question for me.
“Do pilgrims shit in the woods?”
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