Today´s walk was filled with beautiful views of surrounding green mountains, but unfortunately it was such a steep descent that we had to have our eyes on the ground for a lot of the time. We are entering into a much more mountainous part of Spain, and the fields are brilliant green and filled with lots of crops. We got to the albergue in Ponferrada by noon (it was a short 17 km day) and got checked into a girls-only room with two bunk beds. Wow, that is heaven!
My two closest friends of the last week on the Francés and I went out to a good-bye lunch. We went to a rather fancy (at least, fancy for peregrinos) restaurant in an old stone building, with balconies looking out over flower gardens and had a 14 euro lunch. That´s pretty pricey for pilgrims, but having the first course be a plate of grilled vegetables was alone worth the price. Then merluza (hake?) in a green sauce with even MORE vegetables (yes, we are vegetable-deprived on the Camino), and a cheese-cuajada cake for dessert. The wine that came with the meal was from the region, El Bierzo, and my friend from California was able to describe its legs and I don´t know what other features, but the bottom line was that she pronounced it very drinkable (I guess that´s high praise coming from someone from Sonoma). We are now going to spend an hour or so walking around the city´s absolutely fantastic templar castle.
Tomorrow I head out alone, I have a guidebook and will never be far from a town so I am not worried. I am hoping to meet back up with some of these guys when I reach Santiago, but I´m walking a longer route than they are so we may not overlap.
No more albergues for me, it will be pensiones and hotels from now on. I can´t say I´ll miss the snoring and the communal bathrooms, but I will miss these guys, that´s for sure. I am hoping I´ll have email access along the way, but if not, in 10 days or so I will arrive in Santiago!