Up up up to O Cebreiro

On 27 May we had a short sharp climb (13 km) to O Cebreiro.  It was somewhat foggy early on, but the views at the top later on were great.

Getting ready to go:

Up and up:



Second breakfast:

Time for selfies:

Group photos at the top:




Lunch and then an ambulatory class around the very small town of  O Cebreiro.

The church up at O Cebreiro is reputed to be the home of the (a?) holy grail.  A medieval farm worker impressed the priest of the church after walking through a dangerously snowy day to take communion.  “You could have died!” the priest exclaimed.  From that day on the holy grail has been in residence at the church.

In the picture you can see the bust of Don Elías Valiña Sampedro, whose research in the 1960’s led to the rediscovery and renaissance of the modern Camino.

A pre-Roman palloza:  livestock and people shared the same house; there was no chimney, the smoke just left through the thatched roof.


 

 

Day 8: Vega del Valcarce

Today was day 8 of walking.

The group split up for the first half of the day.  Some of us took the high road along the ridge; some of us walked along the river in the valley.  We all joined up in the town of Trabadelo for the last 6.5 kilometers or so.

On the high road:

Dinner time:


Writing in diaries:

Watching the big game:

¡Gol!

Sello Design Contest

A couple of days ago in Molinaseca we had a contest to design our own VT Camino sellos.

 

A “sello” is the stamp we get in our pilgrim credentials at albergues and cafes along the Camino.  A pilgrim is meant to get at least one stamp a day (along with the date) to prove that you’ve walked the whole way when you get to Santiago.

Our designs were meant to reflect both our experience as peregrinos and our status as Hokies.  Here are our final three contestants.  Which one do you think should win?

Sello 1
Sello 2
Sello 3

A Rainy Walk to Villafranca

The morning of the 25th was overcast, which made our 24 kilometers to Villafranca del Bierzo actually quite cool and pleasant.  The rain held off until we were almost in town.

Slow but steady!

Stopping at our best second breakfast yet in Moncloa in the town of Cacabelos.




Walking in the dry and in the damp, a bit up and down.




A Short Walk to Ponferrada

On 24 May we had a short day: 9 km to Ponferrada, followed by lunch and a visit to the Templar Castle.

We thought we might be rained on, but the rain held off till the end of the day!

Leaving Molinaseca:

On our way:

We stopped for a break at the Roman Bridge right before town.


Off we go!

After the castle and dinner, it did rain a little.

But:  Ice Cream!

 

Up and over to Molinaseca

On 23 May we woke bright and early to climb up to the iron cross and then descend the rocky road to Molinaseca.  This was our longest day so far:  about 25 km.

Our feet may be blistered, but our spirits are unbowed!

It was a bit muddy at times.


But the view was great and there were ample opportunities for selfies.





Onward and upward we climbed…

We were happy to have had a good breakfast.


And second breakfast.

Soon we got to the iron cross. Here the pilgrim is meant to leave a rock signifying one’s burdens.


This is the highest point on the Camino, but it wasn’t quite all down hill from here. We went along a high ridge, stopping at times to smell the flowers.




And then down, down, down.  And down again.  And then some more down.  At this point, some of us are really feeling the journey in our feet and legs.

After a last steep rocky scramble we reached the quaint town of Molinaseca. This means “dry mill”, but luckily the river was full and flowing.

We ate a delicious lunch and then stumble-waddled off to a nap.

Discovering the Next Albergue (22 May, Caitlin Hadjis)

Each day is a new adventure. We walk some distance from one town to the next to get to our next albergue and these are our homes for the night. By the time we reach our albergue for the night we are exhausted since we have just finished our daily walk. So at this point in the day all we want to do is sit, take off our shoes and socks, shower, and maybe take a siesta. But, even though we are so tired, discovering the next albergue is my favorite part of each day. Each one is so different and they all have something special that makes them charming, whether that something is the owner or simply the place itself. Each owner seems to be so kind. They each have welcomed us with huge smiles and seem genuinely excited for us to be there and to have the opportunity to take care of us for the night. Some owners have activities for us to participate in and even some souvenirs. When lunch comes, we can really see how much they care for us, there is always a lot of food. The albergues are special on their own too. Each has rooms for sleeping and then an outdoors space meant for conversing. The outdoor spaces are my favorite. So far they have been a large space for our group to gather to play a game of cards or just talk. The times at the albergue relax me and these spaces allow for that. With each albergue I find something new and I can’t wait to discover more.

—Caitlin Hadjis