This morning I left Villafranca quite late (at around 10am) after having some quality Skype time with my children and finally after having said my goodbyes to Alfonso at the albergue.
Before I left I walked back down to the start of the village and from the Panaderia (bakery) I bought what turned out to be an almost useless baguette if wanting (like I did) to prepare a Bocadillo/Sandwich; its consistency resembled more that of dry breadcrumbs which had been moulded into the shape of a baguette.
I walked back up the hill, passed a pilgrim still sleeping on the grass verge, and continued upwards and into the hills which would take me eventually to Burgos. I had planned to walk the full distance to Burgos today; only about 40km from Villafranca.
The walk out of Villafranca was beautiful in the late morning sun:
The first village which you reach is San Juan de Ortega and I decided to rest up for 30 minutes or so as I had felt tired and my body needed the rest. There is a beautiful church here which is currently under reconstruction, and an affordable cafe with a very friendly owner:
As a lay down, resting my body and mind, I watched the pilgrims pass on their way. Some I recognised and shouted out a “Hi!” to. Others were new faces. Perhaps friends whom I have yet to meet. After my third Bocadillo and a glass of coke and ice, I mustered the energy to continue on and with the resolve that I would reach Burgos by the evening.
The path from San Juan de Ortega continued to impress and stimulate the senses:
About 5 or 6 kilometres later I arrived in the small village of Ages and after taking my customary short siesta on the ground, I decided that I would stay in the village for the night and put off walking the rest of the way until tomorrow. I felt uneasily exhausted, and besides, Ages is a beautiful pueblo and the perfect stopping place to escape the afternoon sun.
Two long-legged French women let me know that there was an albergue here for 5 Euro and I soon found myself taking off and storing my boots, admiring the bathroom and building architecture, being shown to my room and bed, and speaking in my progressively more comprehensible Spanish to the extremely friendly albergue owner. The name of the albergue is Casa Roja (Red House) and for 5 Euro it seems to be well worth the investment:
If wanting to stay here then you will need to walk around the corner to the yellow albergue building of the Albergue el Pajar, where the reception is, because there is no reception at the Red House:
At the yellow albergue there is also wifi, but not at the red house.
You can also choose to stay at the yellow albergue, but it is more expensive at 10 Euro per night.
I also found out that there is a donativo albergue option somewhere in the village.
There are also plenty of food options here, and also quite an interesting church at the back of the village which has a wonderful chandelier attached to the ceiling:
In the village there is a lovely little cafe and I stopped in for an Empanada:
It was at the cafe that I also met up with pilgrims Sydney, Lucy (in the sky with diamonds) and Steve:
When they left to eat their evening meal a couple of very young girls approached me, wanting to sell me a toothed necklace. I didn’t want it and politely refused. What followed was a brief but highly effective masterclass in manipulation – giving me the wide, sad, starry eyes which I know only too well from my eldest daughter – and I paid the 1 Euro for the “tiger’s tooth” necklace, which now hangs around my neck and beneath my sun-faded blue t-shirt.
As I write this it is almost 8:00pm on Sunday evening, and I plan to spend the rest of the evening relaxing in bed and continuing on with my reading of Coelho’s The Pilgrimage. I will wake up in the morning, take some coffee, and then continue onwards to Burgos; reaching Burgos by tomorrow (Monday) evening latest.