Day #29: Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo, 22.8km

05.15.2010

Today was brutal on my feet.  The majority of the day was walking either on sidewalks or pavement.  It was also a long day, I started walking at 8a and didn't stop until almost 4p.

I stopped in Cacabelos to find food, but there weren't a lot of options.  I had food in my pack I needed to eat, so I stopped at a park bench on the road by the river and started to eat.  This is when the "Creepy Spanish Guy" moment happened.  This young man (early 20's maybe) sat down next to me.  I was in the middle of eating an apple and as soon as he said "Buenas Dias", I wanted to yell, "Lay off the groceries!" (inside joke from a self defense class I took before my trip).  He creeped me out from the beginning, so I finished my apple and packed up my stuff as quickly as possible.  As I was getting ready to leave, it became apparent he was "rubbing" himself.  Ewwwww!!!  I left so fast, I didn't even buckle my backpack.  That was one of those moments I wish I had a cell phone on me because I would have called the police on him so fast his head would have spun.

After that experience, I really wanted to get to Villafranca del Bierzo.  This was another one of those days with an alternative option, but I decided to stay on the path.  I ended up in Valtuille de Arriba, a little village with a guy running a bar out of his basement.  I stopped for an Orange Fanta and put my feet up for a bit.  While I was sitting, some German peregrinos walked by  that I knew and they stopped for a bit too.

It was getting late, so we all set off for the final 3.2km of the day.  It was a lot of uphill/downhill but it was through this area full of vineyards and farms.  Absolutely breathtaking!  I was so captivated by it all, I stopped a few times to take pictures.

We finally made the ascent into Villafranca del Bierzo.  The German girl I had been kind of walking with throughout the day decided to join me at the private Albergue I was heading towards.  We found it and it was perfect.  Very friendly hospitaleros, lovely room, hot showers and a nice kitchen to cook in.  I had plans to cook some risotto I had been carrying for a while.

While I was cooking, I was chatting with a Spanish woman and we realized she had taken my picture at La Cruz del Ferro the other day!  She had lived in San Francisco for two years but lives in Madrid now.  She was hanging out in the Albergue, hoping a bed would open up.  I guess all the Albergues were full.  I offered her some of my risotto and she offered some bread and ham.  It was great! 

After dinner, I took a stroll around town and search for ice cream.  I found a really cool Vespa moped in a shop.  It was so pretty and nicely restored.  No price tag, though.  I never found ice cream so I went back to the Albergue.  As luck would have it, someone had left some icecream behind, so I had a little bit to satiate my craving.

I also had a nice conversation with the mother of the Bozeman, MT boy, Cody.  She was very nice.  I told her how I had given him a bad time about being from Bozeman and she thought it was funny so I feel a little bit redeemed!  I headed to bed soon after that.