Astorga to Ponferrada

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A spade is a spade, a heart is a heart – Tim

I began smoking again.
3 days ago to be precise.
I thought I had it pinned, but after the third day of not smoking I slowly fell back into the addiction again and the tobacco demon won the fight.
Since yesterday I have stopped and this time I plan to see it through.
I write this because I have always been open and honest on this blog, on my journey along the Camino from Prague, and it is a story of strength/success as well as weakness/failure.

Yesterday’s walk into Astorga was pleasant enough. It’s a town heavily influenced by the church powers that once were and it means that there is no end to the wonderful examples of monastic and church architecture within the city limits. One example being this wonderful church:


As I was walking out of Astorga I bumped into Maciej, a lovely Polish pilgrim whom was present at the camping night with the fire by the river a few days ago. We walked onwards together, gradually on the incline and towards the mountainous skyline ahead:







At the village of Foncebadon, it was a lovely surprise to bump into pilgrim Tim again:


In the late afternoon we came to the highest peak of the Camino Frances; Cruz de Ferro:


This mountain peak was a very special place for the Knights Templar, and today it is a place where pilgrims leave a stone below the cross as significance of something which they would like to shed, to leave behind, to forget, to overcome; sometimes carrying the stone along the length of the Camino from Saint Jean Pied de Port.

While Maciej rolled what was meant to be my last cigarette, I got my stone out of my pack; ready to place the symbol of my addiction to nicotine and my addiction to biting my nails below the cross:



I bit a nail, smoked a full cigarette, and then placed the stone among the other wishes – scattered sentiments under the cross:


We then both proceeded together along the path to the hamlet of Manjarin, where I stayed last year in the donativo refugio and where we were both able to stay this time; being just in time for the evening meal. The refugio as you approach:


This donativo is famous along the Camino because the owners often dress up at Knights Templar and proceed to re-enact an ancient Templar ceremony, swords and all. Yesterday evening there were no ceremonies as the “leader” of the group has recently undergone a heart operation and I imagine is resting up in a place where there is electricity and running water.

If wanting to stay here then be warned that it can get pretty chilly here even in summer so make sure to arrive early enough to avoid having to walk on further down the mountain in the case that it is complet.

Maciej and I slept in the outside cottage, and under the roof:



Be warned also that the toilets are (very) basic:


In the morning we shared breakfast together around their round wooden table:


It was then time to leave the “knights” and we began the walk down the mountain which would eventually lead to the town of Ponferrada:


I am down to my last few Euros so this evening I plan to play for money on the streets of Ponferrada (sans cigarettes). The weather remains lovely and hot.

Categories: Walking into Spring and Summer [My 3,109km walk from Prague to Finisterre]Tags: , , , ,


  1. Hola Nev, I was well fed in Manjarin in 2009 and recall the early morning walk down the mountain. One day at a time in your quest for tobacco free life. Buen Camino.

  2. So you start again. One time it will stick.

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