Monday, July 12, 2010

Villafranca del Bierzo

Yesterday I was messaging with Caroline and she made me wish I was in the UK. Caroline was cooking roast beef and yorkshire pud oh, I was salivating then and now it is all I can think of. Caroline reminded me that we do have great foods available here in Spain, yes they do, but roast beef and yorkshire pud ..... I can taste it now.

Santiago de Compostela
I love being in Santiago.  This day was bright and sunny, no rain.  I usually see plenty of rain here in May/June.

 Santiago cathedral
Praza del Obradorio, Santiago de Compostela
Santiago Matamoros - Santiago the Moor slayer
The Botafumeiro is about to swing
Groups from around the world are here this Saint James year.
Octopus - Galician dish, Pulpo
Sue models her Las Peregrinas tee shirt for me

Sue invited me to join her (and others) for breakfast at the Parador. The Parador is on the Praza do Obradoiro next to the Cathedral and it is the most expensive hotel in SdC. Desayuno for one is €20, I am not sure of the exchange rate but maybe it is around $30. It was good to be with the folks and experience the Parador but it was not worth the money for the food. I said my farewells and went by taxi to the train station.

At breakfast a couple joined us.  They proudly announced that they had walked their camino, 100 kms in two days (arriving just hours earlier after walking 55 kms).  Then the guy had the audacity to mention that he will write a book about the camino.  Come on, he knows little about the camino and/or pilgrims - what with walking in the dark and going so fast.  What could he learn?  He said he suffered no blisters, no aches and pains.  I think he could not be a witness to courageous people walking with a multitude of obstacles.  However, she had blisters, aches and pains, and was exhausted.  What a jock!  I certainly would not want to buy this book.

It was a nice slow journey to Ponferrada, not a high speed train, and I remembered being in Peru with the clickety-clack as the train rolled along toward my destination.

Ponferrada - a Knight Templar city

In Ponferrada it was a very hot day, there was no taxi at the train station so I walked to the Estacion de Autobuses for information to Villafrance del Bierzo. There are numerous buses to VF and at €1.40 I bought a ticket. Outside the bus station I met a mother and daughter who were lost and so I walked with them and showed them their hotel near the Templar Castle (Castillo). I checked into Hotel Los Templarios, my favorite hotel in Ponferrada and by then it was siesta time.

 Ponferrada Templar castle
Hotel Los Temparios is off to the left before clocktower

Around 1800 I went to the Plaza Encino for dinner and there my night started. I have fond memories of this Plaza in 2002 I met Deben and Shanti here after missing them for four days. I met Sheila here and we walked to Santiago de Compostela together over the next two weeks. In 2007 I found Sigi (man) again after not seeing him for sometime. I have sat in this Plaza as the sun sets and watched the lights of the Church light up the spire ... fond memories.

Last night I was sitting alone when an Irish couple came along and the waiter could not understand their drink requests, so I helped, the waiter smiled and gave me a thumbs up from behind the menu that he was holding. They were ordering a Cuba Libre and for some reason the Spanish have trouble hearing Bacardi and coke, as my friend Lisa say´s ... we put the wrong em-pha-sis on the wrong syl-ab-le. The Irish couple, Mary and Paul, asked me to join them. I had a delicious Pizza Tropical, nice thin crust and it almost compensated for Caroline´s tease of roast beef.

Ready for the final 2010 FIFA World Cup game

Mary, Paul, and I found ourselves a spot with table and chairs in the Plaza and were happy. It was magical to be in Spain on the night of their historic win in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. With each near goal, near miss, yellow card, or penalty the crowd would jump to their feet and roar. 

And the winner is .... Spain 1-0 (Netherlands)

When that winning goal was kicked it was mayhem with everybody hugging, kissing, hand shaking and shouting España, España, España. After the game we said our goodbyes and I went to sleep with the distant sound of Queen´s, We are the Champions.

Villafranca del Bierzo
I waited for tienda LA TAU to open before going to the bus station but it must open on Spanish time, it did not open this morning. I have been searching for a Templar Cross since I arrived in Spain, it would seem they are only available in Ponferrada at this one particular shop, La Tau.

I arrived in VF around 12:45 and checked into a small hotel for this night, my last night of baño privade (private bathroom). I walked up the hill to the Albergue Ave Fenix to check that my services would still be useful to them, they are. I start volunterring tomorrow so I will enjoy this quiet night as from tomorrow I will be staying at the Albergue, sharing space with others.

My one day observation is that there are more pilgrims in VF in May than there is now. This week is the week for the pilgrims who want to be in Santiago for the festivities to be walking through and really, it is quiet compared to May. Let me get back to you on this one when I am tired and exhausted after a days work tomorrow.


  1. Anonymous4:38 PM CDT

    Hi Luiza: All your adventures sound so magical. I would love to be along! Hoping you enjoy your volunteer work. I have an idea about the BB. Have you tried "hot shock"? I know this has worked for me in the past. I am not sure it would work, but maybe. Turn the phone off, and remove the battery. Wait a few minutes, and reload, and "re-boot" (just like a computer). Maybe you have already tried this, however.
    We have major leak underneath the patio, but it will be far too expensive right now to bust up the patio, and locate the leak, and then rebuild a whole new patio, so they are going to shut off all the pipes under the patio, and re-route the lines into the house all the way around the gazebo and the patio back to where the lines enter the house. This is still a pretty expensive venture. I would have loved to get a new patio surface, but Danny wasn't going to spend that much! Anyway, at least it is "fixable" without tearing everything out. It is very hot here.
    Anyway, continue to have a good time. Time is marching on, so enjoy every minute! Love, Dawn

  2. Thanks Dawn, I will hot shock the BB when I find out how to take the battery out. Sorry about your patio problems and I hope the fix is good.

    I am going to love being here at Ave Fenix ...

    Bye for now,

  3. Dearest, so you made it to the albergue and are now a hospitalera at last! Congratulations with this new step on your Camino. With all your Camino-experiences I know you are in the right place in the rigth time. Enjoy every minute of it (and I know you will). I envy you, would love to be in that area as well with my bus as planned, but hé the Camino brings me and my life in another direction right now and that also is not bad at all..... I had a bad internet connection in the last days so couldn´t read your blog but spend again a wonderful time with Vicente and we celebrated our first anniversary.
    I won anyhow with that game last sunday. My chico was so happy that they won and let's be honest: the best won! Funny though that octopus was right. I ate a portion of pulpo (octopus on Galician way..... ) on our market.
    Again, I know that you are where you have to be right now so enjoy it and learn from it. I am sure it will bring you a lot (of lessons, of joy and more.....). In my heart I am with you.
    Besos y abrazos,

  4. Hi Kees,

    Yes at last, a hospitalera. Today the Americans told me that I am the only American hospitalera they have met. They did not stay at the American albergue ... I think there is one American albergue.

    All emotions as pilgrim arrive in different states of health. Most are so happy that they have come so far with O´Cebreiro being the last hurdle.

    Congratulations on winning the game and as you write, you win anyhow any way the game ended you win. How could you eat Pulpo after the game :)

    All my fellow pilgrims from along the way are here with me in Spirit .... as well as my little family of Roland, Wolf, Rolf, and you. It is different being here in the hot weather than a cool misty day when we wait for the sunshine to appear on the mountain while walking up the Camino Duro (the hard way).

    Thanks for your thoughts and best wishes.

    Love to you and Vicente,