Oops, I forgot to set my alarm so I slept in a wee bit, but still enough time to arrive for breakfast by 8:00am.
Today is one of those incredible blue sky days and although the morning is a bit chilly, the forecast is for the high 20’s today. We chose the prefect week as last week it apparently poured rain.
Departure time was 9:00am and we drove to Castrillo de los Polvazares – an historic typical ‘Maragato’ village whose architecture has remained unchanged since the 16th century. The stone buildings and paving stones are gorgeous. The morning sun gave the buildings a special glow for great photos.
From here we continue on to Foncebadon where we will start our journey. We each purchase a Camino shell, water and receive our first sello (stamp) in our Credencial. Let the walk begin!
It was a continuous gentle 2km climb up to the Cruce de Ferro (the iron cross) where peregrinos (pilgrims) leave a rock, shell or any symbolic item at the foot of the cross. Along with these items you leave your worries and problems behind, or a dedication to a family member or friend. This is a very integral part of the Camino and we all left something behind; a rock, a shell, or a photo, along with our worries and prayers for loved ones. This was of huge importance for several of the group as many of the brought worries and prayers from their family members and friends. It was a warm day so Brian and I took it nice and slow and when we reached the Cross, our team cheered us on!
We continue along the undulating ridge past Manjarin, a simple refuge run by an eccentric fellow, Tomas, who believes he is still part of the Knights Templar and has devoted his life to caring for peregrinos. I met his son (or so he said) who was equally as interesting! Out front are directional signs giving the distance for points all over the world.
One more climb up another undulation (as Paul Sr. Calls it) all is well. Carol and I are chatting and along comes Ruth, very purposeful in step, and says Helen just hit the wall and then carries on. This has since become a source of great teasing and laughter, however at the time I rushed back to see how Helen was doing. “Hitting the wall” means you are totally spent and just can’t go on – generally a little rest, water and food help enough to get you on to your destination. Helen was doing ok, just in need of a rest. She had some water and electrolytes and then we slowly moved on. We took it easy and to help I took her backpack – despite her protestations. Within 5 minutes we were at the meet point – we had no idea we were so close!
Each time we tell this story, we exaggerate more and more. If you hit the wall, Ruth will find you help but will continue on her Camino. We have had so many great laughs over this!
We meet up with Paul & Paul and have a refreshment at a mobile bar – what a great idea! From here it is a short drive to Acebo for our lunch.
A sidebar: we have decided to change the Jr. & Sr. to Papa Paul and Baby Paul. They both quite like their new titles and apparently Paul is the youngest of the family so he has had this name since a young child.
Ok, back to lunch. Acebo is a glimpse of a vanishing world, old stone houses with balconies that overhang and a central gutter in the road. The restaurant Meson El Acebo is a popular spot and rightfully so as the food was delicious! It was served family style with a large variety and quantity of food, oh yes, and plenty of wine! No wonder they need a siesta after a huge meal with wine! The group was very animated and jovial and we seem to have so much laughter (even without the wine) – what fun.
Some of the group choose to ride back to the village of Molinaseca and the rest of us tackle the downhill 5km trail. The temperature was now above 27C and the trail is in a valley so a bit of a heat trap. Before long though, we arrived at the Romanesque bridge of Molinaseca and we made our way through the gorgeous narrow street to our hotel.
Before anything else, we jumped into the showers to cool off and then gathered in the courtyard. Decision making on what to do for dinner was a slow process, but we managed and headed to Paul’s suggestion of the El Palacio restaurant. We were instructed to tell them that we were with Walks in Spain and we would then be attended in English. We did, and Jose, the owner, had a fabulous sense of humour. He fit in perfect with our group and the laughter was abundant (I think we were all a bit giddy from the exertion and heat of the day). Regardless, the food and company were fantastic and we all exclaimed “well that was fun!” You could hear our laughter ring through the now dark and empty street as we walked the short distance back to our hotel.
A great start to our Camino!