Friday, September 12, 2014

Cacabelos to Villafranca, 20 May (8 kms)

I had made a booking at the Parador in Villafranca with (€85), so I was looking forward to a night of luxury!  It was only about a 2 - hour walk, though it took me 3 going at my much slower pace with this tendonitis which seemed to be getting worse not better as the days went by.

Leaving town I looked at a large model of an ancient wine press.  I took the scenic route through all the vineyards of the Bierzo.  Many had touristic signs advertising the grapes they produced and giving a history of that type of grape. It was much cooler en route, with clouds on all sides and showers threatening. As I was coming down into Villafranca it seemed about to rain, but this didn't come to much till the afternoon when it poured down.

Diagram of winepress


Vineyards:  every pilgrim must have photographed this view!
I passed the Church of Santiago (11th century), where it was possible in medieval times to obtain your pardon if you were too old or infirm to reach Santiago itself.  I felt that my tendonitis might qualify me!  The layout of the town was rather confusing, and I had to ask the way to the Parador.  When I finally arrived, it was a haven of peace and luxury!  It had a full range of toiletries to replenish my dwindling supplies.  I ran a big hot bath and lazed in it for a long time with a bottle of beer in my hand!  I also spent some time looking out of the window at the view across the valley.  I could see the entrances to the tunnels into the mountain, one for the normal road and two for the freeway.  There was also a very tall chimney in the middle of town with a stork's nest on top.

Entering Villafranca, albergue in front
Best of all, the Parador had 3 computer terminals for the Internet, so I was able to read and send emails at my leisure, and then research a few ideas about where to go from here in view of my tendonitis problem.  Hotels in Mallorca seemed twice as expensive as I had been paying over here, and the good ones in Illetas were filling up fast.

I talked to the friendly guys in Reception, and discovered that there was one bus in the morning going up to Pedrafita, 4 kms from O'Cebreiro, with a return at 6.30 p.m.  The only problem on the horizon was the worsening weather, with rain solid forecast for the next 5 days at least!

I walked into town to check the info about the buses at the Turismo, and got caught in a gusty downpour which threatened to turn my umbrella inside out.  I had dinner in the Parador: c.€30, with grilled mixed veggies for starter, then a skewer of fish and scallops on a bed of rice.  Not bad at all, but I couldn't manage dessert!.

Church of Santiago
Castillo Palacio de los Marquesas
Transport of baggage for pilgrims
Bedroom at the Parador



View from my window of the tunnels

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