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Once you finally manage to negotiate the walk out of Ponferrada, the landscape turns into small-hold farming land and there are no end to the number of cherry trees which dot the side of the way. This one provided breakfast for 2 other pilgrims and myself:
For most of the day I walked with Kristy and Claudia:
Claudia taught me Lucy in the sky with diamonds on the guitar and I practiced the song throughout the day yesterday.
The walk out of Ponferrada was also an indication that we were heading back into wine country and the wine in the region of Bierzo is (widely considered) where the best of the Spanish reds are produced:
It was a hot and humid day yesterday and the walking to Villafranca was tough under the noon sun and along the dusty paths:
We reached the beautiful little town of Villafranca at around 2pm and were unofficially welcomed in by a touch of graffiti:
I left the girls at the albergue where they were going to crash for the remainder of the day and headed out through the town to continue along the way and in the heat of the afternoon sun. As with all these small towns we pass on the way some of the buildings are immaculately kept and others are symptomatic of owners long gone, Villafranca being no different in this respect:
Street art in Villafranca also wishes you a good onward journey out of the town:
The way from Villafranca follows a road and is one of the most soul-destroying sections of the Camino:
You pass through a few small villages on the way to Vega de Valcarce (also a village) and in one of these I decided to stop for a break and play a few tunes on my guitar. It was soon after that I bumped into Maciej again and we decided to walk on together:
There are not many people I could spend time walking with – I like to walk alone – but it is always great to meet and walk with Maciej.
We walked on in the heat of the late afternoon/early evening and with the aim of crashing at the donativo albergue in Vega where I almost stayed last summer. When we arrived through we were told that the albergue was no more and we slightly dejectedly sat in the nearby park, eating melon slices and weighing up the sleeping options. Maciej said he was going to walk on. I had noticed a neglected building on the way up to the closed albergue – with a bed frame in full view – and decided that I was going to sleep there for the night:
I passed my rucksack, water bottle and guitar through the glassless window and climbed into the house. I wanted a bit more privacy than to sleep in front of an open window to the street, so I crept around the empty house until I concluded that sleeping on the (dusty) kitchen floor would be the best option:
I brushed my teeth, drank some water, read 2 chapters of The Pilgrimage, and fell into a deep and long sleep which would be peppered with dreams of trying to check out of a 5 star hotel early and without paying.
I woke up with 4 Euro in my pocket and decided that I would need to play again for money today.
The walk today will take me (slowly) upwards to the peak of O’Cebreiro and it is there where I’ll play for my dinner and breakfast.