Day 27 Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo
Monday 3rd June 2013
31 km - 8 hrs
I left Molinaseca quite early and took the route that skirts around Ponferrada, coming out opposite the Templar Castle. There was a convenient coffee shop here where I had breakfast. Jane and Digby had set out before me and were halfway through their breakfast as I arrived. I joined them, and walked with them for the rest of the day.
Leaving Molinaseca early morning
The route goes off to the left here, although you can take the road to the right and go through Ponferrada
Bridge over the River Boeza
Castillo de los Templarios
It was originally a hill-fort and later a Roman citadel. At the beginning of the 12th century, the Templar knights took possession of the fortress and reinforced and extended it to use it as an inhabitable palace and for protection, on the route of the pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. The building has an irregular square plan and the outstanding features are, above all, the entrance which involves crossing the moat on a drawbridge and, further on, two large towers with crenellations joined by an arch. Its twelve original towers reproduced the shapes of the constellations.
Columbrianos - Ermita San Blas y San Roque, a small chapel with a colourful pilgrim
is the site of an original pilgrim hospice
Divine intervention? Digby said I want to get rid of my staff and buy some poles; we turned
the corner and there was a man with two lightweight walking poles for sale!
Capilla San Roque, Cacabelos
In the centre of Cacabelos we bumped into the gang having lunch..... Bart, Petra, Gary, Klaus and Juan.
Actually Cacabelos would have been a good place to stop for the day as we had another 7.6 km
to go to Villafranca on tarmac roads and the sun was beating down mercilessly.
It was hot!
At last, off the tarmac road and at the entrance to Villafranca
The albergue at the entrance to Villafranca..... I pushed on into the centre in search of a single room.
No time for too much photography.... I needed a pension or casa rural!
Nice shirt for the camino!
Drinks for Birthday Boy Klaus
Juan (Nice hat, Juan!)
Seung Yun Lee
Bart and Michael
Aniko and Digby
After 8 hours 15 minutes of walking and despite scouring the town I could not find a room, and then I stumbled on a boutique hotel, Hotel Posada Las Donas del Portazgo, which was about as exclusive as its name implies! It was a bit above budget, and I was surprised that they let in a scruffy sweaty pilgrim such as myself, but it was wonderful!
Hotel Posada Las Donas del Portazgo
(The camino leaves Villafranca over a medieval bridge by the side of the hotel)