Camino Day 31: Villafranca Del Bierzo to Laguna de Castilla 28km

Today is exactly one month since I wandered out of St Jean Pied de Port to start my Camino adventures. I have seen a lot in that month, met and talked to a lot of people and walked a hell of a lot.

If all goes to plan, I will walk into Santiago de Compostela in one week’s time, Thursday 22 October.

I have already booked 3 nights in Santiago de Compostela from that Thursday. I did make sure that I could cancel or change those dates without cost for as late as possible.

Back to today and breakfast at Albergue de la Piedra in Villafranca Del Bierzo. It is the best value yet at 2€. The usual suspects of coffee / tea / toast but also cereal and juices. Not only that, it started early at 6.30am.

That meant that Deb, Ben and I were on the road, a much dark and cold road, before 7am.

The weather was cold and frosty well beyond 10am as hills and mountains surround the Camino here. And farm animals.

How cool is this old and rustic sign? It looks like it has been there for quite a while. Ninos, of course, means children in Spanish.

You stumble onto artful pilgrims all along the Camino. Or somebody to look out for the pilgrims.

The Camino today had a gentle climb up to a point, roughly the town of Herrerias. From there at 700 meters, the Camino ascends steeply to Laguna de Castilla at 1150 meters. Which is today’s destination.

There is another 150 meters ascension to the town of O’Cebreiro, the guidebook’s destination. We decided against staying there. There is only one hostel in O’Cebreiro and it is a community albergue. It is also a small community of only 50 or so inhabitants.

Weaker or adventurous pilgrims can do the whole climb on horseback.

Here is another cool sign.

The Camino and all the small hamlets and towns were dwarfed by what looked like a new autovia. The money spent on motorists meant a smooth straight drive bypassing pretty much everything. Yes, human life there below was a bit thin.

More farm animals…

…and this guy just looked like he posed.

Then Win appeared on the trail and joined us in the walking. We had 2 breaks including here in Herrerias where I had a tortilla con chorizo.

As we left that bar, what looked like a whole school class appeared on the Camino up the hill? Noisy. Scary. Please go away. You can see the pack of small people in the picture below.

More pumpkins on steroids.

One of the differences between the Galician and other Spanish languages is that X replaces J. For example, Junta becomes Xunta.

Here, some Galicians try to stretch their influence beyond the province’s borders. Sign “mutilation” became more common as the Camino approached the Galicia province.

For us, the Camino will cross the border into Galicia early tomorrow morning if things go to plan.

So after Herrerias, the Camino ascended. This setup was likely there to encourage pilgrims on their climb. Today though there was nothing to give a donativo for. All empty.

Plenty of what looked like Roman roads here. Win is demonstrating how to walk those.

Great views during the ascent. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the horizon. With binoculars you can see even further.

With apologies to Russell Coight (Australian TV comedy)

Ben, Win and I arrived at Albergue La Escuela in Laguna de Castilla before 2pm. A nice, clean and spacious albergue where the name hints on a former life as a school.

Post Camino drinks outside. You can see the red chairs there.

Then several pilgrims with horns walked up the hill.

Hmm… That doesn’t seem quite right.

Aaron showed up with all his band aids and compeeds on his feet. Poor guy, there doesn’t seem to be an end to his feet problems.

Dinner was “menú del día“. Good. Great even. Lentil soup and chicken in beer sauce.

This was fun. A sign from the wall in the restaurant’s bathroom.

At 7pm, the weather turned colder and it was time to retire to the room of beds. Ben was cold, cold, cold.

I also had a single bed with plenty of space around so a good end to today.

628km walked. 157km left to walk after Day 31

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