PONFERRADA

My feet are remarkably ok when I get up, the bandages and plasters were still on from the previous day, well why waste a good bandage.

Up at 6:00, check feet, wash, brush teeth and out for 6:45. The Camino as I have said before was right past the Hotel Novo where I was staying. Nipped around the back and I was on the path to Camponaraya, a good ten kilometres I had worked out. Wrong.

I made my way through the countryside, again in the darkness, really actually enjoying the walk. I had felt like I had crossed some sort of threshold. Taking my time to enjoy the scenery and taking more in than before.

About half an hour in I came across the strangest little café at a crossroads leading to what seemed to be some sort of industrial area. I only say that because it was only a very small road but at the crossroads there seemed to be a lot of traffic coming behind me and all turning left down the same road. I couldn’t actually see any factory or anything but I imagined there must be some sort of early start for these people 7:30 – 8:00 or so.

I went into the café for a quick coffee and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, everywhere has these amazing juicers. The style may change slightly but the result is the same – beautifully sweet juice which had no preservatives or sugars in it.

I was really amazed to find two elderly gents sitting at the bar/counter drinking coffee while a young man was getting cigarettes from a machine. Four Euro fifty for twenty for those addicts who always want to know the prices. Around 2 Euro fifty for a pint of C&L. Not too bad I would say.

Finish my coffee and juice, backpack on and off on my walk again.

Just outside this little village I came across a walled off area with a gate cutting off one of the corners. I could see through the gates, which were locked, glass doors with flowers hanging from them. The size of the doors, around 3 ft. wide by about 2 ft. deep, and the flowers gave away the fact this was a graveyard. These windowed accommodations went down one side of this enclosed block and on the other side were box-like structures which resembled beach-huts, except in stone.

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As I walked on past this weird looking place I was reminded of Jacque Tati in the scene from Monsoir Hulot’s Holiday where he mistakenly goes to a funeral – but only for the front gates of this place.

The road went down the side of the graveyard and the backs of the beach-huts for the deceased were just the concrete wall with the peaks of the roofs creating a jagged top. It almost looked like a community dumping area in the outskirts of a town at home.

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As I said before, I cajoned-up. Camponaraya jumped out at me from around a corner, six kilometres registered on my Runkeeper app. By the time I reached the B&B I was going to be staying at I had worked out that I could walk about 1.5 kilometres extra, turn around and walk back to the B&B and that would make up around 10 km.

Headed out the road which I would be taking the next morning for a bit and found a dirt path heading off up a hill into a wooded area above the town. This would suit to clock up the extra kms.

Walked up about 1 km and came across, what looked like, an abandoned building built into the hillside. It had a flat circular roof and the place was fenced off, although part of the fence was broken down. I went in and climbed up on the roof, only about a 2 ft. high step up from the back of the building. It gave a good view down over Camponaraya and I took some photos.

It was still only around 9 o’clock in the morning as I headed back down the hill.

Just on the outskirts of the town was the bottling and sales part of the local vineyard co-operative Viñas del Bierzo.

Wine sample and pincho €1.50. Well, even at 9:00 o’clock, you still have to go for it. Free grapes and a lovely sobrano ham pincho washed down with the white was really quite nice.

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Got back into the town when I heard an American accent I recognised shouting “Hey there Campbell”. It was Brad, from Fort Worth and is friend Liz from New York. I joined them for a coffee and we started talking again like we were the oldest friends.

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That’s what this thing does to you, I’ve got dozens of new friends who all know the same pains and pleasures we have found along the way.

I know that if I ever meet them again, no matter where in the world, we could instantly re-bond, instantly take up the route, instantly be transported to damp albergues in the mountains or warm sunshine at cafés where we all slumped down into plastic chairs, creaking at the weight of us and our rucksacks, walking poles rested against the wall taking their own, well-deserved break.

Brad and Liz headed onward and I went to my B&B.

About CJ

Setting out 1st September to walk El Camino. I am walking the French Way and starting at Logroño. My wonderful wife is joining me at Sarria to finish the walk with me.
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1 Response to PONFERRADA

  1. Bronagh says:

    You seem to be enjoying your travels especially the early morning Vino. Xox

    Liked by 1 person

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