The Iron Cross, Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago day 17-20

Day Seventeen: Hospital de Orbigo-Rabanal del Camino,
38,0 km, asc/desc 501/201m, 10.54h
September 28th, 2016

  • The name Hospital de Orbigo refers to one of the many hospitals build on the way to Santiago to accommodate ill pilgrims. Fascinating to think that very ill pilgrims used to drag themselves from one hospital to another to arrive at Santiago to (hopefully) be cured.
  • This is the last day of the flat Meseta. It ends at Astorga. Honestly, my feet hurt from the monotonous flat surface. Ascent, preferably on small paths will be good!
  • Astorga has a well-known Cathedral. I will mainly remember the huge lunch of steak, french fries and fried eggs I had at a small backstreet joint.
  • Santa Catalina is a wonderful village: I had a drink there at 4 pm, wishing I could stay, however the thought an upper bunk bed in a 20+ bedroom with a lot of snoring made the last few kilometers to Rabanal an easy choice.
  • I received an email from my hostel in Rabanal at 7 pm asking when I would arrive? I try to make reservations ahead aiming to walk 30-35 km a day. Today, nothing was available for booking in Santa Catalina so I went on to Rabanal del Camino.

    Santa Catalina
    Santa Catalina

The complete photogallery of this day is available on flickr.

Day Eighteen: Rabanal del Camino-Ponferrada,
32,40 km, asc/desc 555/1152m, 11:11h
September 29th, 2016

  • The passing of the Iron Cross: Some have carried a stone symbolizing their burdens or sins in their backpack and now leave it here.
  • Curiously I saw a guy steeling a string of Nepalese prayer flags from a watermelon Donativo, despite there being five people around him telling him not to.
  • Molinaseca is a very atmospheric village with a great café right next to the river.
  • For lunch I had a great “sandwich” of pastry, pastry cream and chocolate.
  • The moment I  crossed into Ponferrada and the mightly castle suddenly appeared on my left in the sunset around 8 pm was one of the great moments of the Camino.
  • All along the trail, there are posters advertising for taxi companies. I wondered why but it turned out quite a few people take a taxi from Acebo and down to Ponferrada. It is a rather long ascent.

    Watermelon donativo
    Watermelon donativo

The complete photogallery of this day is available on flickr.

Day Nineteen: Ponferrada-Trabadelo,
32,90 km, asc/desc 353/318m, 9:38h
September 30th, 2016

  • As usual I leave relatively late at 9. I am then passed by hordes of faster-walking people who have left at 7-8am from a village before mine,  before passing them again as I walk in late afternoon.
  • On flat stretches my walking speed is 4,5 km/h – on average over a day on the Camino I do 4,0 km/h. Meaning that walking much more than 40 km a day is a physical impossibility as I do not appreciate walking in the dark. 30-35 km is an appropriate distance.
  • Had this been a mountain hike, I would never dare to drink a beer before having completed the days walk. Here I do it almost every day!
  • I stayed at the great pension “El Puente Peregrino” in Trabadelo. Impressively this is a one-woman business: Apart from catering for 3-4 rooms on the first floor, she provides full meal service in the (full) restaurant downstairs! She told me she had been alone for three years now and things were going well.
  • Again a stage with a lot of traffic noise as I pass under a major highway several times.

    On the way to Padornelo
    On the way to Padornelo

The complete photogallery of this day is available on flickr.

Day Twenty: Trabadelo-Fonfria,
31,08 km, asc/desc 1094/365m, 9:46h
October 1st, 2016

  • In Valcarce I had the best croissant I have ever tasted.
  • Many find the hike up to O´Cebreiro  the toughest day of the Camino, though in hiking-terms it is quite moderate. with a gradual ascent.
  • Horses may be rented for the ascent to O´Cebreiro, otherwise there are plenty of villages on the way up to shorten the walk
  • I thought O´Cebreiro was a small mountain village – in fact I don´t think any locals not involved in albergue/restaurant business live there.
  • I had booked a hotel in Padornelo, but as the hotel owner asked for extra money for himself and claimed my credit card transaction did not go though, though it clearly did,  I left. He then ran after me offering me my money back, claiming he was not a dishonest man!

    O´Cebreiro
    O´Cebreiro

The complete photogallery of this day is available on flickr.
This post is part of the Camino de Santiago in 24 days series.

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