When the Scouse Spouse and I were in Villafranca in March, we decided to walk the Pradela route (aka the Donkey Killer) rather than the long tarmac path along the road (and underneath the motorway). It was a good choice, but I was reluctant to walk it on my own. So again I decided to bypass the tarmac and got a taxi from Villafranca to Herrerias, at the foot of the hill leading up to O Cebreiro – another one of my favourite walks (others would have walked the road and taxied past the hill, but there you go).
Don’t know why the two last photos are a bit blurry, I must have been too excited and not stood still long enough to get it right. You get the picture though – sunny, stony, ageless path amongst lush green trees. And then the landscape opens up to offer this view! Fantastic! I wanted to run down the hill and do it again!
At the top of the hill and just over the border to Galicia is O Cebreiro, teeming with pilgrims and tourists as usual, but beautiful none the less. My first point of call was the Santa Maria Real church, as (un)usual, where I always go to say thank you to Don Elias Valiña Sampedro, who is buried there (at the far left, end of the church). He was the one who revitalised the Camino for a new age and started painting the yellow arrows, and I am very grateful for all he has done.
I had met M again at Laguna, just a few kms down the hill, and we walked together up to O Ceb. I had promised I would introduce her to some local traditional foods, which I did. Caldo gallego (Galician cabbage soup) and Queixo Cebreiro (local cheese served with honey) went down very well!
Then I set off towards Triacastela, as I needed to get to a farmacia to get more bandages and things for my still pretty ugly shin. On the road between Hospital and Fonfria I kept bumping into a constantly quarreling couple who seemed not to mind arguing loudly en route (thankfully in a language I don’t understand) and by Fonfria I was tired, hot and sweaty, my feet ached with PF and I just wanted a farmacia and a bed – preferably in Triacastela. Though M and a few others checked into the albergue in Fonfria I decided to go to Triacastela in a taxi and start the next day in the ‘right’ place according to my plan. Otherwise I would be completely off plan and would have to pull some long days or risk not getting to Santiago in time. It was an easy choice to make, and again I refused to let other people’s looks bother me. I did wonder though – if I had said that my luggage was forwarded and waiting for me, would that have been more acceptable? I don’t know. I hope not – having bad feet and needing the farmacia should be a perfectly good reason to skip some kms.
After shopping at the farmacia I went to Berce do Camino, as I always do, because it is cheapish, always clean and never full, and they have quite a few normal beds and not too many people per room. I showed the hospitalera my leg and asked for a bottom bunk and she had one free. After my shower I could then sit down and really sort out the shin before going for a meal at the Complexo Xacobeo – yum, beef rib!
Already the time had flown, and the next day I would arrive in Sarria to start the important part of the walk.