Winter wander to Villafranca

(From our winter camino, late February to early March 2020)

After a good night’s sleep and ankle rest, we woke up to yet another beauty of a day. The world was hustling and bustling on the square outside while we had our morning coffee, and the lady in reception kindly booked a taxi to take us past the pavement stretch out of Ponferrada, to the bodegas where the camino del tierra starts and winds through the vineyards.

We made our customary stop at Cacabelos, only about five km from the bodegas, a good test distance for dodgy joints. There we visited the Siglo XIX, hoping beyond hope that they would have the mushroom stew on the menu, but no – not this time either. One time we will stop there and stay in one of the rooms upstairs though. And I do love the massive squid mural!

Unfortunately the ankle, which was elevated while we sat there, started swelling, so it was no point in pushing it and risk making it worse. We kept reminding ourselves we were on a second honeymoon and were supposed to enjoy ourselves.

Off we went to the taxi rank, and when the taxi came, the driver asked if it was OK if we made a little detour – free, of course – because he’d promised to pick up a mate from work and take him to his girlfriend’s … Well, we were on our second honeymoon, so who were we to stand in the way of young love? Bit of sightseeing never hurt anyone. And his mate was very grateful and polite (and a Liverpool fan – check).

At long last we arrived at gorgeous, sunny Villafranca. Our receptionist was sitting at a nearby café having a coffee and looking out for us, and came rushing as soon as we pulled up. Brimming with positive energy she asked what room we wanted – it turns out most of them were free! So we got the best room in the house, with a view over the square and a lovely, big, soft bed. Wonderful!

So we spent some time people watching on the square, marvelling that nothing had changed with the half demolished life-size doll’s house by the hotel, and enjoying a cold drink with some salty treats.

We were hoping to watch football at the bar down the stairs, like we always do, but it was closed. After asking around a bit we found a bar that would show the match in the evening, so we went there for dinner and laid claim to a well positioned table near the flat screen.

And so passed our evening in Villafranca, with Bierzo wine, local lacon with sides and a well deserved win. If the ankle wouldn’t play ball, we’d just have to have a holiday in some of our favourite places in the world!


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