Our stay in the pension brings us much rest. There’s something about being in your own space. Khahn is snoring less now that she had her anti-histamine drugs and Sue accuses me of walking in my sleep in bed. Whatever noises we make, all feel much more rested. We languish a little and by the time we are out the door, it is closer to 8 am. It seems that without the urgency of other pilgrims to push us along, we are simply slower getting our day started.

There is no bar open in Molinaseca. So there is no hot coffee and breakfast. We stop by a fruiterer who is open. He is a sweet man. He gives us done nuts to sample and a cherry or two. We buy some fruit from him. He is generous to the pilgrims in his shop and wishes everyone a Buen camino. Times like this, it is wonderful doing the camino. They don’t know us but he wants us to get there all the same. In fact everyone can get there. Everyone can win. I wish it was like this back in the real world. There I go again, a futile “I wish”.

I am determined to get a stamp from this fruiterer. He has his profile as his stamp. It reminds me of Ramon, from The Way. I call it my Ramon! Stamp.

The walk out of Molinaseca is deceptively long and after 2 km we finally reach the outskirts of town … And the albergue that we would have stayed had we not stopped at the pension last night. In fact, I am pretty convinced we would never have made it to the albergue. We were so tired.

There are a couple of ways into Ponferada. We decided to take the highway as it is more direct and avoids a detour via a small town. We have fantasies of getting to Villafranca if we can. I am excited to be in Ponferafa. I really want to see the Templar Castle. I love castles. I love imagining the characters who would have lived in it. We pay the €6 entrance fee. No discount for pilgrims. I asked. The castle is well maintained and restored. We walk around the grounds and read the signboards. I loved admiring it’s height and defensive position above the river. The castle builders are so clever. They even built a small fortification riverside to protect their water source from contamination. Through the day, I learn a little bit more about Black Friday and the demise of the Templar Order. It is a wonderful medieval story. 

We stop to buy done souvenirs at a shop just outside the castle. It was slightly before 12. We were hungry as we’d not eaten breakfast. I asked in my pidgeon spanish where we could get fried eggs and chorizo. The shop lady, who was trying to be very helpful, rattled off in spanish. My face must have looked crest fallen as I completely failed to understand anything. Times like this, I wish I knew more spanish. Shop lady then drags us off to the restaurant next door. Not sure what she said to the owner, but I think she badgers him into opening up the kitchen a little earlier to cook for these hungry pilgrims. The half hour wait is well worth it. He comes out with huevos, chorizo and Fritos. It hits the spot. He even gives us a small gift of cake for us to take on our way. I love their generosity and their ability to share. 

We leave to walk around 1 pm. Most would be settling into their albergues. I don’t mind either way. I’m happy to check in and chill at a place early. But I also know that they thought the day ended too early at Gaucelmo. I don’t mind. I can push on. It is a very hot day and the sun is beating down the tarmac and the heat feels like it’s melting the rubber soles of my boots. My feet is boiling in my boots. I know I should be stopping and airing my feet but I do not wish to hold up the party. So we walk. 

Soon it is 3 pm. I learnt from an Italian peregrino that in Spain, the hottest period of the day is 2 pm to 5 pm for that time of year. We press on. I try to cool off in the shade where I find it. I am very hot. And I am getting very tired. By the time we reach Comparanya, I stop at the new albergue and tell the others, I am spent. My feet will not go on. 

I cannot now remember the name of the albergue. I’ve been ripping pages out of my guidebook as I’ve completed each section. (Of course, there is my credencial, but I’m too lazy to go downstairs to get it. In case you haven’t worked it out, I am playing catch up blog post.) The albergue had a nice bar and eating area. Toilets and showers were good though few relative to the number of beds. Beds in a room were highly squashed. This meant that it was very hot at night. We couldn’t open the windows because the heat of the setting sun beat right into the room. Also, at night, traffic noise was unbearable. Still I managed to sleep with earplugs. Apparently, it was just as well I had the top bunk. The pilgrims below didn’t believe in washing their socks.

The night, amidst the traffic noise, I had a restless night. My big toe was throbbing such that I could not even rest my sleeping bag on it. It was that sensitive. In the end, I had to sleep with my foot hanging off the bed so that nothing could touch it.

Stone crosses that used to be outside the towns – Molinaseca, Ponferada and town after Ponferada.


Pictures of Ponferada Castle



Pictures of some of the exhibits