Thursday, September 11, 2008


The distance covered today was relatively short--17 km., and a very beautiful path. Our first stop was Molinaseca, very much in the style of El Acebo with its stone and slate roof houses, but much larger. There, we stopped for coffee and walked around this lovely town. Most of the walk was downhill in rugged terrain. We descended what looked like a dried brook for quite a distance through a gorgeous forest. This area, called El Bierzo, is very green and lush. At the bottom of the "brook" we came to a small meseta with the most incredible and gigantic chestnut trees. From the distance, their silhouettes, ghosts from children's story books. Although it was a very hot day, we made good time. At around 1:30 PM we were entering the city of Ponferrada, which we had thought unreachable when we saw it from the top of the mountain the day before. The entrance to the city is through vast and incredibly green vineyards, then a residential area, near which is an underground Roman source. As we were approaching the city center we stopped to admire a vegetable garden full of fruit trees. The owner offered some of his yellow plums, insisted we'd take a bag full of them which turned out to be delicious. Our hotel was located next to the city's most imposing feature, the XIII C.Templar Castle built on the hill overlooking the river. The castle is very well preserved. After showering we went to look for a restaurant. Across from the castle we found an Italian place which was pretty good, especially the wine from El Bierzo. We then visited the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Encina, XVI C. The wooden statue of The Virgin Mary was supposed to have been found by a Templar pilgrim on the way to Santiago. The Ayuntamiento--City Hall-- is quite an impressive Baroque building from the XVII C. To go into the main square in town, you have to go under the arch of a XVI C. clock tower, which encloses the very charming square. Unfortunately, all the beautiful old houses behind the square were covered with graffiti. Such a shame! In the early evening Libia and I went down to the river where we could see the castle up above. What a sight! We enjoyed a moment of relaxation watching the people going by and the ducks placidly swimming in the river. Around 9:00 PM we returned to the main square and sat outside to enjoy a very cold beer and some delicious tapas before retiring for the evening.

Giant chestnut trees

Rugged downhill terrain

Arriving in Molinaseca

Libia and other pilgrims on bridge--Molinaseca

View from Molinaseca bridge


Statue of Santiago de Compostela--Molinaseca

Arriving in Ponferrada

Ponferrada. Castle left, N.S. de la Encina Center back. Italian restaurant, right

Ponferrada. Templar Castle

Templar castle viewed from river

Ponferrada--Clock tower

Ponferrada-- City hall

Libia makes a friend! Main square

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