Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ponferrada

Hello, everyone.

We had slept in Acebo and did a very short (16 km) day into Ponferrada. This put us in town before noon--but there are things to see in Ponferrada.
One of the regional costumes on display at the museum in Ponferrada.

We went to a museum there, before the Albergue San Nicolas de Flue opened, and then sat around at the albergue courtyard resting.

This albergue is a parish one, run by the local church. It had a big patio with shade and tables, and another patio that was paved with tile, a collection of round tables, and a square water pool. Oops, it wasn't just a pool. A number of people were sitting around and putting their feet in the pool and otherwise relaxing when, apparently, a hospitalero with a sense of humor walked by and turned on the fountain jets for a minute. You should have seen them all jump! And about a half an hour later, the hospitaleros were ready and set up their table for registration. (All the backpacks had been placed in something like a line, and when they came out, people went and stood with their packs.) As usual, the bathroom/shower space was "mixto" but this one came with two additional wrinkles: the one inside the main building--where the dorms were--had urinals outside of the shower cubicle doors (ick--these were in addition to the toilet stalls with doors on them) and there were additional showers in another building on the other side of the patio area. The patio was also decorated, besides the trellis and vine over the picnic tables, with a wooden sculpture. Think "totem pole" here and you'll get the idea. I think it was a Camino themed totem pole, but I kept thinking of Washington state Indian tribal poles.
Totem pole scuplture at Albergue San Nicolas de la Flue

Patio area at the albergue. On the wall is a tile mural of St. Nicolas de Flue.
Ponferrada has a nicely restored Templar castle, with explanatory signs. There was a diorama on display, too.
Looking out at Ponferrada from the Templar castle walls
We went grocery shopping for our dinner--we didn't want to try and find a bar to eat in, we just wanted to eat something--and found tomato juice! (I don't know why, but Spanish groceries almost never had any tomato juice for sale.) We got that, and also some meat empanada and olives to eat with it for dinner, and had a half bottle of the juice left to drink in the morning. We also bought another empanada package to eat for lunch the next day, plus some napoleons with ham and cheese inside for breakfast. No coffee, but we didn have the rest of the tomato juice, which we had put into the fridge overnight.

The internet provider for the albergue was the paintballnavarra one, which I could never figure out how to access the blog with, so I didn't do any update. Just sent email to family.

We went through Villafranco del Bierzo at midday. It is a lovely village with a pretty river, park, and a bridge.

We walked to Perejes that day. In Perejes the albergue (another government one, I think) had no bunks. Just rows of beds. The building was ancient, but in good repair. No washer--just faucet with rubbing board, and a line strung along the fence to hang clothes on. Perejes itself was basically a wide spot in the road, reached by a short side road and with no side streets that we noticed. We did find a bar patio to relax at.

The next day we hoped to reach O Cebreiro, which is a high point on the path. We went to bed at a good time, and then somebody got the bright idea to flip on the lights in the room at 5:15 in the morning. (No, it wasn't the first one up. They'd already left the building. It was some other inconsiderate person.) We left a little earlier than usual. Only about 23 km to reach O Cebreiro.

According to the map book, that meant we had 179 km to go to Santiago.