Today (in Villafranca del Bierzo) we all got ready for a 7.15 breakfast so that we would be on time for the 8.30 bus to La Portela, 11 km away. The idea was to shorten today’s walk which would be challenging anyway. We took our bocadillos and said bye to Lilliana.
We walked across a different bridge and through the grey streets to the bus stop near the Hostal Cruze. Checked the times with the bar owner. Looked OK. Met another pilgrim – moustachioed Louis.
When the bus did not arrive at 8.30, we realised that because this was a Saturday, another timetable was in use – our bus was now due at 2.30 pm!
So we ordered a taxi to take us to the village of Ambasmestas situated at the foot of the mountain, from where we would begin walking our path again. Ambasmestas marks the start of the narrow and beautiful Valcarce Valley.
The stiff walk up to the ancient village of O’Cebreiro, just on the Galician side of the León-Galicia border is one of the most famous stages of the entire Way, the first port of call in Galicia for pilgrims, with Celtic buildings and an ancient church, the Church of Santa Maria Real.
Out at Ambasmestas and then a walk to Vega del Valcarce. It was a great day for walking, the castle of the Count of Saracin lay high above. We continued to Ruitelan and coffee.
Lots of pilgrims today – possibly because of Holy Week (Santa Semana). Then to Las Herrarias and finally up to La Faba where we stopped for lunch at the refugio and received our stamps from the German warden who was none too pleased when he realised we were not staying here. The church of San Andreas was rebuilt in the 18th century and has an interesting interior.
Then further up towards the snowfields. What a great experience. Then to Laguna. Boots totally wet by now. Sun accompanied us all the way. Just a great day’s walk. Great pictures and finally to O Cebreiro where we booked in to our accommodation.
Lots of people here. Mass in the 12th century church of Santa Maria Real. It was a great opportunity to revisit the Camino after 12 and a half years. More to come.