Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Monday, December 07, 2015

Cacabelos, Pieros, and Villafranca del Bierzo

2009 - Autumn

Just leaving Ponferrada, you pass a park in Compostilla
with this wonderful painted Iglesia Santa Maria

Castilla Compostilla

It helps to put your feet up when you stop to rest

A hot and tired Annie has lunch
In 2009, we slept in Cacabelos at the Las Agustias Parochial Albergue.
There are only 2 beds per pilgrim here,
and we enjoyed it very much.

When we arrived at Villafrance del Bierzo,
we wanted to stay at Ave Fenix.

However, I found bedbugs and told the hospitalera.
She put us in touch with another Templar and his wife,
Andres and Federika.

They fed us, and we slept in their home on real straw mattresses.
It was a wonderful experience!

Andres and Federika were leading groups on the Camino
on horseback.
What a lovely couple!

Loved this Baby Jesus in the local church

Please be prepared when you enter the Spanish churches. 
The art was made to evoke emotion,
since most people did not read or write.
It can be very realistic.

2012 Spring

This restaurant is after you pass the park with the painted church.
You will come up on it in the back, 
and you have to walk around front to enter.
But it's the best place to stop for coffee and breakfast
after leaving Ponferrada early in the morning.

Lots of storks in the fields this year

And a sweet little abuela selling sweet cherries
Sculpture Studio
Lots of vineyards on this stretch

Municipal Albergue in Villafranca del Bierzo
La Piedra, our favorite albergue
2012 - Autumn

So we were walking through Camponayara and heard a familiar voice.
I peeked under a red hood,
and there was Edeltraut,
who we had met and partied with on our very first Camino!
What a surprise!

Annie, Edeltraut, Joe

It was wet walking this stretch but Pam had her ALTUS on!
I was happy to have my ALTUS on as well!

Oh those luscious massage machines at La Piedra!

The rooms here are modest, but nice, and we love the owners.
Backside of Villafranca del Bierzo
Conan was happy to see us!

Patricia and I enjoyed some hot coffee and snacks after the walk.

2013 - Summer

I think this pilgrim was soaking his feet in the nice cold water.

I stopped in at the tiny church of Santa Maria.
Inside were some lovely statues and other treasures.

Saw this in 2012, and again in 2013
I stayed at El Serbal y la Luna, a private albergue.
It was clean, but the people there were a little distant.
They all sat down to eat, and planned on serving the pilgrims later.
I figured we were getting leftovers, 
and the dinner was more than I wanted to pay.
So I walked on up the Camino a bit and across the street,
I found a wonderful tiny cafe where I was served
a delicious meal for under €10.

Loved the walls at the Pieros Albergue

Here are a couple of ads for albergues I saw in this section.

Okay, those who know me know that I love hamburgers
almost as much as Wimpy.
This is the BEST hamburguesa on this section of the Camino.
It is at the end of Cacabelos on the left hand side.
It is inside a little "mall" type place,
and when you look in the door,
you will see the mural I have posted below.
You buy the hamburger at the Donar Kabab place.


Owners at La Piedra


To Ponferrada


Walking into Ponferrada we came across an open vegetable market. 
I loved seeing the braided onions for sale. 

The castle looked great from the front,
but in the back the crews were doing some rehabilitation.

We stayed at the municipal this year.
I love this little albergue.
They have 4 beds to a cubicle, a nice kitchen,
and plenty of hot showers.
It was donative in 2006 and when I stayed here in 2013,
it was still donative.

Our bunkmates were this interesting couple,
Pere, who was in his 30's
and his partner, Sylvia,
who entertained us with spirit music 
with their mouth-harps and flutes.

We took a train with this couple to Sarria,
and walked with them to Portomarin,
where we parted ways,
as pilgrims often do.


In 2009, coming into Molinaseca, 
we found the gigantes!

2012 Spring

One of our favorite stops when walking into Ponferrada is the Domino Bar.
Here, we always stop for coffee and the little snack that comes with it.
But to stop here, you must walk the road from Molinaseca,
not the Camino.

Restaurant in basement of Hotel Templarios
It's worth visiting the church in Ponferrada to see it's beautiful statuary
I always love seeing the storks with their young in Spring
In 2012, there was a LOT of ugly graffiti on the walls.
Everywhere you looked, 
the walls were destroyed with ugly paint.
What a shame young people can't be proud of their heritage,
and instead, must ruin it.
It appeared to us that the owners had just given up.
This is one reason we no longer stay in this village.