Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pilgrimage Day 25: Ponferrada - Villafranca del Bierzo

There are many more people on the pilgrimage when I'm approaching Santiago de Compostella. Some of us leave Ponferrada in a small group in the morning and find or way together. The group dissolves and a new group is formed. This goes on throughout the day. I get aqainted with more and more new people. The pilgrimage is becoming a wonderful fellowshio. I come to the first village called Columbrianos. Some old buildings that testify a forgone time in history. Otherwise this is a suburb of Ponferrada and relatively easy to walk quickly past. Next village is Nuevas Fuentes. 

I stop at a local store here and buy fruit, a big ripe tomato and bread. This is how a typical lunch looks like for me. It tastes fantastic. I take a late breakfast (or early lunch) today with this meal. Than I move on to the next village called Camponaraya. Here is a rather large winery. The wine district called El Bierzo. All the local grape farmers supply grapes to this cooperative winery. The next village is Cacabelos. This is a very nice village. I slow down and enjoy the village. Outside the village I have to follow an asphalt road a bit. It's hot to walk on the black asphalt road to Piero, which is the next village, and really only a small collection of houses. I have walked far today and met many nice people along the way.
I walk 5 km more and come to Villafranca del Bierzo, I have walked almost 25 km today. The first building I meet here is the great church, Iglesia de Santiago. It is built in what is called a Romanesque-Lombaric style. I do not know what that means but it was beautiful.
Right next to the church is a hostel for pilgrims and I take in here. This proved to be one of the many highlights of the journey. Here I enjoyed  myself from the first moment. There is room for 160 people here. The site is located in the ancient premises. Toilets and showers are in a neighboring building and is a bit spartan. But the place really has a soul.
I get a bed in a dormitory for the second time on the journey which is designed for older people (over 50 years of age). Oh well -I have reconciled myself with this now. I am growing old and enjoy the benefits such as being in a room with fewer people than those under 50. I note that this is a popular place for young people and they kept it going through the night with talk and song. It's okay to lie sleep in another room so they can do as they please and so that I can rest.

But before I went to bed, some of us had a great time together around the dinner tables. Here we are from many countries all talking together and enjoying the food. First, we had two eggs each and then a good homemade vegetable soup. A good atmosphere around the tables makes the food taste even better. After the meal, I take a stroll around in the beautiful city. There was so much to see here. Great shopping streets, historic buildings, rose gardens and castles. After the trip I went back and had a good night's sleep in a bunk bed, intended for us over 50.

No comments:

Post a Comment