Day 24. El Acebo to Ponferrada

Today was going to be short so I arose a little after 7 when I returned to the room Floriana was up and packed. It wasn’t raining so I packed up and did a bit of journaling. Adding photos to WordPress is tedious because it’s all in HTML. You load the picture but can’t see it and then add the title after.
I had paid for breakfast so went down a little before 8. They fixed me up with a bowl of fruit swimming in mango juice I think. Anyway coffee and orange juice and I grabbed my stuff and hit the road in jacket and rain-cover. The first bit was paved road but then it changed to mountain path with sometimes a fairly steep drop. The views are spectacular. I come to the village of Riego de Ambrós which is very clean but I don’t stop.
The next section is a washed out gully full of sharp rocks and it plays havoc with my ankles. I meet Patricia from Edmonton and after a bit we catch up with her husband Rodney and their friend. I walk in company for quite a while but eventually I have to slow as the pace is too much for my ankles. After 3 hours I emerge to the road and round the bend is Molinaseca.
Again I walk all the way through town and find a bench to park on in the sun. At least it’s not raining as predicted today.
I open a packet if almonds and grab some chocolate and then it’s calling Ali time. Laura is really liking driving my car and I think that when I get back to work I will be relegated to passenger.
It’s paving all the way to Ponferrada so I set off a little after twelve. I’m shadowing and elderly gentleman and after we are halfway there I catch him. He is Check and named Zdank. He began walking in July from Neves in France and has been all over the shop. When asked, I say I’m doing the Camino for my 60th and he replies that yesterday was his 80th so I wish him a happy birthday and shake his hand. He doesn’t look 70. We walk in company for a while but I find I’ve pulled ahead on an uphill stretch.
I’m well into Ponferrada but haven’t seen any albergues yet and then I notice a young pilgrim talking to some road workers and they point and he takes off and crosses the road. When I get there I look in that direction and see a large building with a shell sign on it so I head on over there myself. It’s just on 2 when a lot of albergues open.
There’s already a line-up and while I’m waiting an Asian girl comes up and says she has met me. When I ask where it was, she says Zubiri and it’s the the Japanese girl who was with Nina from Norway.
The Albergue is a donativo and is staffed by Irish volunteers. I sign in and get a bottom bunk and not long after I’m joined by young Canadian Duncan. The four-bed room fills up with a pair of Germanics and I wait till they are done before I shower.
The technique I have developed is to hang clothes in this order. New undies, new shirt, trousers, towel, old shirt, old undies. That way today’s clothes protect fresh clothes from the spray.
I do laundry and then sleep till 6.30 when I’m woken by a noise. Jacket and for the first time scarf on and I’m chatting to the Irish Volunteer about dinner options. He provides me with a map. We chat about hurling and Tipperary just missing out at the final.
I tell him the joke about the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral….one drinker.
I wander up to the historical district, visit the church, ATM and supermarket and then stop at a local restaurant for my evening meal. Cured meat and cheese followed by lentil soup, then croquettes and two decent pork fillets. Vino tinto of course. A whole bottle is normal.
Ponferrada is surrounded my mist-covered majestic mountains. There is a big Templar castle here and it’s easy to see why such a place might be strongly defended.
The distance today wasn’t long but the combination of steep rock gullies followed by pavement was tough on knees and feet. We will just have to see how far I get tomorrow.
Buen Camino.
80 y.o. Zdank against a spectacular backdrop

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The first village

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Waymarker with stream infested path

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Ponferrada’s historic district

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Paving leading to Ponferrada

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The Templar Castle

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