We had a tough night at Foncebaden. First, it was a long and hot day. The climb from Rabanal del Camino was tough and it was after 5 pm when we got to the hostel. We had made a reservation for 2 beds, something we’ve done in all the albergues since we started booking ahead. What we got was a top bunk in one room and a top bunk in the other room. I’ve been pretty fortunate to not have to sleep in the top bunk, usually Ally takes it. So, hot and tired and now cranky…..we cleaned up and walked down to one of the other places to eat. Supper was good, only high points for Foncebaden… we get back and try to go to sleep but holy cow! People were loud, in and out of the room, on their phones (lighting up the room) all night long. And I still don’t know what was going on across the room between two pilgrims, all I know was she had her top off…. and well, that’s enough of that. Needless to say, these folks were the same super loud people all night, and again at 6 am. Neither of us slept.
We left a little late, after finding some toast in the kitchen. The hike up to Cruz de Ferro was not long, and when I rounded the corner and saw it, I was overcome with emotion. There were many people in line to have their time at the pole/cross.
Ally and I left our stones there, along with some other personal things. Cruz de Ferro is a place where pilgrims leave their stone (brought from home) or other momento behind, as a symbol of leaving ones burdens behind. It is a special place for many pilgrims.
From there we walked across the mountain, through another crumbling village called Manjarin, before cresting one more time before the long, stoney trail down.
The trail was steep, quite technical in places and seemed to go on forever. I did manage to finally capture a lizard pic…. they dart across the path so quickly that I usually miss them.
We continued downhill, through El Acebo and Riega de Ambros, until we got to Molinaseca, the normal stop for this stage. We sat under the medieval bridge to rest our feet, re-bandage Ally’s heels and have a bite to eat and drink.
From there we climbed up a bit, in the afternoon heat until the outskirts of Ponferrada. The way led us along a route that sometimes felt as though we were going away from the city. It was on pavement a lot, it was hot, and we have bad tan lines….
We wandered along the route through the city until we found our hotel (cheap deal on booking.com plus we needed to NOT try and sleep in a 20 person dorm tonight). To make Ally happy, once we got cleaned up, we walked about a km through this end of the city and found McDonald’s. Once back we gathered laundry and found a laundromat – great place and the owner spoke English and was super helpful. We connected with Grant via FaceTime, something we have not been able to do regularly (especially in a dorm room with 20 other people). Then we walked back to the old town, and looked at the basilica and the castle.
Ponferrada is a busy city, but not huge. The castle is a 12th century Templar castle and is stunning. It has undergone numerous restorations and is considered a national monument. It was beautiful in the setting sun. Off to bed after a 25 km day here in Spain.