[From the Castle in Ponferrada]
Total Distance: 17.4 km
Total Time: 5.75h
Total Euro: Don’t Ask
Route: El Acebo to Ponferrada
For the last week or so, I have been suggesting to E that as a result of this trip, I might be willing to try camping for a weekend. He was just starting to get excited by the prospect and then I woke up this morning covered in bug bites and all his hopes were dashed. Upon looking in the mirror today, I got to play one of my favorite games, “Pimple or Bug Bite?” Provided they’re all bites, there’s one on my cheek, one on my chin, at least one (possibly two) underneath my chin and two on my neck. We’ve been going through bug and bee country lately, so noticed the two on my neck developing as we came into El Acebo, but the ones on my face are totally from last night. Moving down, I have two on my left shoulder (also noticed on the way in), one new one (and two old ones) on my left shoulder blade and three old ones on my left arm. I have one (possibly two) on my right hip, five on my left hip (all right by my panty line, which means that either I got them while wearing my dress in the garden (E thinks this is most likely), while popping a squat roadside (BTW, I’ve started doing this with my pack on. E is endlessly fascinated by my newly acquired skill), or in bed (horrifying, considering I sleep in a supposedly insect repellant liner sack)), three on my left lower thigh (felt the fucker get me in the garden yesterday) and two on the inside of my left knee. The latter two have turned into giant blisters and the three on my lower thigh are also blistering. E is currently performing blister care (draining and threading) as I type (in case anyone has ever wondered, this is what real love is).
As a result of the bites, I didn’t sleep super well last night, but I still felt relatively energetic this morning. We walked to the first town and had some breakfast and then walked into Molinaseca for coffee. Before arriving in Molinaseca, we were congratulating ourselves on our decision to break up the descent, since the rest of the way down the mountain was more loose rock on a steep slope. Then we got into Molinaseca and saw how cute and picturesque it was and were a little disappointed that we didn’t stay there last night. We decided it was so cute that we’d have a second cup of coffee, which was nice at the time, but I totally I spent the rest of our walk into Ponferrada tweaking out a bit (note to self: two cups of coffee in one day is fine, just not right in a row).
In Ponferrada, we realized that the albergue was off the Camino and not really near anything interesting, so we checked into Hostel La Encina (an albergue is what we would consider to be a hostel; a hostel is like a Motel 8. Hotels are still hotels) right across the street from the castle. It was a bit more than we wanted to spend, but we figured it was worth it. This sentiment became the theme for the day.
No laundry services or place to wash our clothes at the hostel, so we took them to a nearby laundry service. On our way, we stopped at an outdoor store to try to find E some new shoes because his beloved Patagonias bit the dust yesterday (completely chewed through part of the outer sole. He bought the shoes in January and loves them so much that he wears them everywhere. We estimated that he’s probably put in over 1000 miles on them). The guy at the store was completely unhelpful and didn’t have anything that worked, so we dropped off the laundry and then treated ourselves to a pretty awesome lunch (highlights included stuffed sole and chocolate mousse). The castle was closed for siesta, so we went back to the hostel for a nap.
After our nap, we headed downtown to try to find shoes again. This time we found a great shoe store with a lovely clerk who really took his time to help us out. E said goodbye to the Patagonias and walked out in some Eccos. After the shoe store we picked up some insect repellant and then went to check out the castle.
The castle was everything I imagined a castle would be – turrets, drawbridge, high walls and more. We started at the museum, which described what the various roles would be of those involved in castle life. They also had a little bit on the Knights Templar, since they appear to have played a big role in the founding of the castle. We also toured an exhibit of books from the era – most were replicas, which was still impressive considering the artistry and craftsmanship that went into each book.
After the castle, we went back to get our laundry and restock our supply of snacks for tomorrow. Then we got a light fancy dinner (more fish, some morcilla and a whiskey tart) and came back to the hostel to prepare for bed.