Friday, October 9, 2009
Last night's shrimp paella.
A photo of me at the Cruz de Ferro. It was cool and foggy.
The Cantabrian mountains.
Greg from Canada in the fortress.
The Templar fortress in Ponferrada.
Today there was a short climb to Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on the camino at 1505 m. From there it was mostly downhill for 17 miles to a low of 500 m. So today's walk was an elevation drop of about 3200 ft., more if you figure in the uphill parts which meant even more elevation drop. Tonight I am in Ponferrada, which is in a beautiful mountain valley in the Cantabrian range that separates the provinces of Castilla y Leon from Galicia. Still in Castilla y Leon, but tomorrow, I begin the ascent of the next mountain and two days later hope to be in O'Cerebrio, another summit of close to 1500 m, which is just inside Galicia. From Ponferrada it is 202 km to Santiago, so I have reached the 3/4 point.
Ponferrada is the hub of the Bierzo valley, which is renowned for its temperate microclimate in this mountain region. It is famous for the wines that are produced here.
I have to tell you about the pilgrim meal we had at the albergue in Foncebaden last night. The best meals seem to be in the smallest villages. This village had more goats, cats, dogs, and donkeys rambling though the unpaved streets than people. But the owners of the albergue cooked a paella topped with shrimp and the pan had to be three feet across. Along with the ensalada mixta, cheese and sausage plate, dessert, and wine, it was a heavenly treat for only 9 euro.
Julia, I met a German girl (31 yhears old) from Munich, who just completed her doctorate in biology and she is on the camino to try to decide what direction her career should take from here.
This afternoon I walked over to the Templar fortress here in town. It has been more than partially restored and quite interesting to visit. From the top of the fortress there is a 360 degree view of the entire valley and surrounding hills.