Jennifer has a board meeting tonight at midnight: As a result she skipped all but the last 10km today. So I set out by myself at an unreasonably early hour into the deep dark. There was me and a little pool of head-torch light for the first seven, not very fun, kilometers.
As dawn was breaking I arrived in the first town which has a pretty stunning Templar castle. I have to admit I was just as taken with the great little bakery right beside it where I stopped for a coffee and croissant.
Basically the first half of today was a pretty tedious walk along roads joining little towns. There were some nice wildflowers, and some interesting bits but it wasn’t great – especially as rain squalls kept gusting through. All that up and down yesterday meant today was pretty flat. The towns are built of sold reddish stone with grey slate roofs. The days of huge farms are behind us, it’s all small plots between the towns.
After 15km or so things changed again. The path veered away from the road up into hills filled with vineyards. Suddenly there were stunning views filled with green against a sunny grey backdrop. The rain squalls kept up but I got fed up with constantly putting my raincoat on and then taking it off again, and so I just got a bit wet and relied on the sun to dry me off.
The local grape is bierzo (now sampled and enjoyed) and the vines seem to be a lighter green then the ríojo region of a couple of weeks ago. It also seems leas generally arid so there are more trees and wildflowers.
34km after starting (yes, a long day) I met up with Jennifer at Villafranca del Bierzo where we are staying for a couple of days. We had late lunch in the main square and caught up with our Canadian / Emirati friends; which turned the meal into a four-hour chat – they move on tomorrow and we won’t be seeing them again much to our general disappointment.
We stay here a couple of days. This is partly because in spite of all the intense planning we put into this trip we failed to get our heads around the idea that a meeting starting at midnight on the 27th of September meant we had to be here on the 26th. So this little town is getting us for more days that it probably warrants. That said, I think our legs may thank us for the longer break in any case.