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LIVE from the Camino Leon to Ponferrada

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Phil has finished his service time as a hospitalero in Caldazilla de los Hermanillos and has resumed pilgrim status. He started this morning again from Leon on his 71`st birthday🎂🎉. He said he didn't see that many pilgrims although met two different US pilgrims who had stayed over in Leon for some medical care for themselves or a walking partner and were just getting back on the Way He didn't get started until after 9 a.m. Due to the conversations about "booking" beds on the forum, he made a WhatsApp call to Hostal San Froilan in Virgin del Camino yesterday and secured a single room (31 euros) with his own bath. (We had stayed there in 2016 and were the only people in the whole hostal.)

He arrived in VdC in time to attend the 1 p.m. Mass at the modern church. Then as he was crossing the plaza heading toward the hostal, he was hailed by a woman calling "Peregrino, Peregrino". He approached and she asked if he was Phillipe who had called yesterday for a reservation. He got booked in at the Cafe de Maria and she gave him the key to his room at the hostal. The hostal is just down the street from the Cafe. He is the only person in the whole building again, so he said he does not feel compelled to book ahead again until he gets to Ponferrada and the Invierno. He will just stay in the albergues (munis, parish, etc.) that don't take reservations so he can remain flexible. Many are open in this stretch. He walks short distances (usually less than 16 or 17 km each day) and therefore arrives early enough to get a bed.
 
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jsalt

Jill
Past OR future Camino
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
On booking.com the quote was much higher so contacting directly was a money saver.

When I arrived in La Virgen del Camino I had a rather long leisurely lunch with some other pilgrims 😃. I decided to stop for the day, and when I enquired at Hostal San Froilan for a room their price was higher. I must have looked distressed because they reduced it, “for a pilgrim”.

Sorry, distracting from the thread 🙃.

Editing to add that your post confirms how advantageous it is to have Whatsapp in Spain (another thread).
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
He was up early today (by Phil standards) and found the Cafe Maria dark at 7:30, however as he was shouldering his pack to trudge on, he heard "Senor, Senor" and the same woman from yesterday appeared to open up. After a cafe con leche and toastada he was on his way. He walked to Villadangos del Parmo and checked into the Municipal about 1:45.

This is the newly refurbished donation albergue he'd been told about. They are preparing supper for him and the one other pilgrim. They also provide breakfast. There is no washing machine available so he did some handwashing. He said the water in the shower was not very hot, but otherwise it is a nice set up.
Plenty of beds available. The hospitalero voluntarios are a Spanish husband and wife team. Phil told them he is also a volunteer for HosVol.

He said the senda today was near the busy highway. If he had not wanted to see this albergue he would have taken the variant.
 

celticone

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
part Le Puy (2012)
He was up early today (by Phil standards) and found the Cafe Maria dark at 7:30, however as he was shouldering his pack to trudge on, he heard "Senor, Senor" and the same woman from yesterday appeared to open up. After a cafe con leche and toastada he was on his way. He walked to Villadangos del Parmo and checked into the Municipal about 1:45.

This is the newly refurbished donation albergue he'd been told about. They are preparing supper for him and the one other pilgrim. They also provide breakfast. There is no washing machine available so he did some handwashing. He said the water in the shower was not very hot, but otherwise it is a nice set up.
Plenty of beds available. The hospitalero voluntarios are a Spanish husband and wife team. Phil told them he is also a volunteer for HosVol.

He said the senda today was near the busy highway. If he had not wanted to see this albergue he would have taken the variant.
Thank you for posting as I will be walking in your footsteps soon. Starting in Burgos next Tuesday. Also thank you for being a hospitalero.
Ena
Buen Camino
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Quick update on the Villadangos del Parmo Muni. Phil said there were 4 pilgrims by supper time. The Hospitalero Team prepared a delicious filling and varied meal for the pilgrims. He said that he did ask and the heat for the water is solar which could be why it wasn't very warm on a cloudy day. He said it was cool in the sleeping dormitory and he was glad for his lightweight down sleeping bag and silk liner. He also went to the local bar in the afternoon and was the only pilgrim. He enjoyed watching the local men (including the bartender) playing cards during the siesta hours. Tomorrow onward. He's not sure where he will stop yet and will let the weather and his body dictate the distance.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Phil left the muni in Villadangos del Parmo a little after 8 am. He said the hospitality was excellent and so he left a generous donation. He got hot coffee and toast for breakfast as a part of his stay before leaving.

He stopped in San Martin, but the tortilla was not ready so he had croissant and another coffee. He stopped again at Puente de Orbigo and ate some salted nuts. It began to drizzle at one point so he put on his rain jacket and pack cover. Of course then the rain stopped, but he walked 30 minutes before stopping again to put his jacket away again.

He said it was lunchtime when he got across the bridge at Hospital de Orbigo. He saw a few pilgrims there, but only saw about 20 total the whole walk.

He pressed on and arrived at Santibanez de Valdeiglesia around 1 pm. He stopped at the albergue Camino Frances, but they were full. The hospitalera sent him on to the very nice La'Abilleru Rural Albergue where he has a room with private bath and towels, supper, breakfast, wifi, and laundry wash and dry for $48 euros. If they did not have a bed he would have gone to the Parish albergue and then back one town in a cab if that did not pan out.

The La'Abilleru is a bird themed albergue and is listed on the Gronze site, but not in the Brierley book 2021 edition so must be newer. I think they gave Phil the single pilgrim price for his double room which should have been 50 euros alone just for the room.
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Today Phil headed out for Astorga. He said although the Albergue with the shared room last night was very nice, he felt some things were overpriced. Laundry was especially expensive and his evening meal was not as good as some others. He did not take dessert which is unheard of for Phil!

In addition he got a small blister, which is really a surprise. I have NEVER known him to get a blister! Normally he is so careful with his feet, but it does happen I guess (usually to me though). He was talking to someone and did not stop to check the hotspot. He has never had a blister on the Camino although he was in the Army for 20 years and certainly knows what to do. He said after a shower today it looked better. He will cover it again before walking tomorrow. Its only a small one between his fourth and small toe.

He did stop off to see David and have a piece of fruit on his way into Astorga and he said that perked him up.

He is in the big albergue in Astorga tonight (Silvas de Maria). He said there are more pilgrims than he has seen, but the other big albergue associated with the Via de la Plata is now closed for the winter. They were putting people on top and bottom bunks in this albergue! He's not seen that in pandemic times yet. He has a bottom bunk which is probably good for everyone. He had several errands to make today as he will stay in the off stage small villages now between here and Ponferrada. He plans to stay in El Ganso tomorrow. He'll stock up on essentials, go to the bank, etc.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
A small change in plans today. Phil's going to take a second day in Astorga to sort some things out. He tried to get two nights in Ponferrada booked, but due to the Spanish holiday nothing was open for the 11th and 12th of October. He'll take an extra day in Astorga and spend take three nights before getting to Ponferrada where he plans to stay at St. Nicholas de Flue on Oct 11. He's attended a hospitalero singing workshop at that albergue a few years ago and knows that it (like the Astorga Silvas de Maria) is quite large and unlikely to be full before he arrives in early afternoon. It is also a HosVol staffed facility so it is a known entity.

He did say he's seen more pilgrims in Astorga than so far on his trip. This make sense since the Via de la Plata joins at Astorga. Tomorrow he will move to the Imprenta Musical Alojamiento for one night. It will give him a chance to see some of the sights in Astorga.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Phil is napping in his hotel now for siesta on a rest day. Theh otel is a little pricy at $85 for a room, but its all relative. Seems he stayed with about 15 or more new best friends in the dormatory at the albergue last night and tonight he will be along in his own room. He said the albergue was pretty strict about taking temperatures and hand sanitizer, but that the rooms were filling up. The albergue were extremely busy. There were 10 sets of bunk beds in his room and 17 bunks were full. He said there was a group of mature men with matching vests, their names, and some kind of crest on the vests who were traveling with a support vehicle and had almost everything known to man with them. He was glad to see them out walking and spoke a little bit with them.

He sought out the library today where he was able to download and print some materials he needed for 1.40 euros. I think pilgrims need to remember these kinds of resources are available along the way although hours may not coincide with pilgrim walking. I have used more than one library bathroom when walking through a town and that was a lifesaver!

He had a pizza for lunch and was going to take a siesta before heading out to the Aisan store to look for a "nose hair trimmer". He saw one in Leon, but it was big and bulky and he's kind of kicking himself for forgetting his tiny battery operated one here at home. He's already called ahead to make sure he could get a bed in El Ganso which will be his destination for tomorrow.
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Phil got started a little late today, but he was in a hotel so there were no hospitaleros playing wake up music or plastic bags rustling in the bunk room to wake him at the usual early time. He said he stopped for a tortilla on the way out of Astorga and then at Santa Catalina for a soft drink. At El Ganzo he went for an afternoon snack pictured above and there is a communal dinner scheduled tonight at 7 p.m. through the albergue, but 50 meters down the street at the plaza where the apartments and tienda are located. The Cowboy Bar which is a landmark in this community on the Camino was not open and he is unsure whether that is permanent or just temporary. Maybe he can find out and I'll report back if he does. The bar/restaurant adjacent was where he ordered his Patatas Bravas. When we walked the Camino Frances together in 2016, these were the best PB's we had on the Camino. He said they were not as good as he remembered, but maybe we were just hungrier back then as they look about the same to me in the photo.

He said the dormitory room in the attic at Albergue Gabino where he is located has no bunk beds, just 6 twin beds. So far he had no other roommates as of mid-afternoon. He is not certain if there are other dormitories in the albergue although the Gronze says there are three. He said the water is hot in the shower and he has his clothes washing in the washing machine.

He said his blister is OK. He is still dressing it and he says it hurts, but isn't getting worse. He trimmed away some dead skin today and will continue to keep it covered when walking and open in the evenings. He said he walked and talked with a peregrina from Norway a short while today, but then had to bid her farewell as she walked faster than he does and he did not want to get a new blister or aggravate the current one. He said he also almost tripped and fell today at one point. He's taken a few spills in recent years that have resulted in two surgeries so he is using poles and taking extra care. He's heading for Foncebaden tomorrow.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Phil said there were only three pilgrims at the albergue in El Ganso last night. He was in the attic room and a French couple were in another bunk room. In addition he said a trio of older Frenchman stayed at the apartments managed by the same family. He said one of them had his arm in a cast and sling. A second one was blind and the third was guiding the blind one. Phil's not a fast walker and the three of them passed him this morning while walking.

He said the provided supper at El Ganso was good, but he felt a little overpriced at 14 euros. It was vegetarian and each diner or group was seated at a separate table. They were not outside, but in a large dining room behind the store and apartments.

Today he walked to Foncebaden. He stopped in Rabanal for a tortilla and cafe con leche. He said Foncebaden was packed with tourists and at least one tour bus. It is a holiday weekend.

Phil is staying at the donativo Parish Albergue Domus Dei tonight. Everything else was completo when he arrived around 1:30 and it looks like this one will also be full. The hospitalero is a volunteer originally from Italy and it is his first volunteer gig. This albergue has only one toilet and one shower so Phil will postpone a shower until this evening to avoid the rush and the inevitable limitation of hot water.

He did call ahead to reserve a bed tomorrow night at the Muni in Riego de Ambros.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Phil said Foncebaden is full up tonight and the donativo albergue filled up within an hour of opening. He said the bunk room is tight and packs must be left in the common area although he thinks that is a Covid thing.

He ate a late lunch at El Trasgu.He thought he was ordering pork, but it was some kind of fish and quite good. After lunch he had a glass of wine with a pilgrim from Taiwan and then later met her and a pilgrim from Israel while they had dinner.

He's happy and grateful for the albergue bed tonight and will set off in the morning for Riego de Ambros.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
It was a longer walk than usual today for Phil. He had a good chat with the hospitalero at Foncebaden and then got started around 8 am. He said he was passed by 30 or 40 cyclists and about the same number of peregrinos on foot. He was glad he had stocked up on BabyBell wax wrapped cheeses and Powerbars in Astorga! Manjorin is closed so no stops open before El Acebo.

In El Acebo he stopped at a bar for a cold beer and met a "kid" from Texas who was tending bar there. He told Phil he ran a security company in College Station, TX, and hoped to move to Spain and buy this bar property from a retiring owner. I asked him how a "kid" would have this kind of money and he clarified that because he is 71 years old, everyone younger is really a "kid" now so the guy was probably in his 30's or 40's.

He is quite happy with his bed at the Muni in Riego de Ambros although he said it is quite low to the floor. He said the men's bathroom and shower is palatial. The door actually locks and there is even a chair to put your stuff on or sit on when getting dressed. He skipped a shower in Foncebaden last night. He said by the time it was his turn, the 1 shower stall was pretty trashed. It was so small he was not sure he could move arms to actively wash so he just waited until today.

He was at the bar getting a snack when we spoke and he was making sure he didn't need a reservation for dinner. He said they were extremely busy with Spaniards on a holiday weekend. They do serve Cena starting at 7 pm so he'll probably be back there early.

His albergue was not full and the hospitalero spoke several languages. He remembered Phil by name from yesterday's phone call. Because it is not a regular stage and is a smaller town, he feels pilgrims may overlook it, but is a nice place.
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Phil went to supper with Peter from Belgium. Peter has walked to Santiago in stretches over several years. This year he is walking back home and will end this leg of his journey in Astorga.

The restaurant is very good and very popular. Phil had pumpkin soup for a starter. Pork Chop for Segundo, and Santiago Tarte for poster.

When they returned to the albergue, there was a new roommate from Latvia who had just ridden 137km stretch today. Phil says the hospitalero told him this albergue used to be the priest's house.

Phil said his legs were really quivering after the descent today. I reminded him that the walk to Molinaseca was also steep and slick. He may take the road tomorrow depending on conditions. In 2016 we were nearly run over by a trio of Italians on bikes on this stretch. We had to dive into the bushes and one of the cyclists took a spill just as he passed us and had to push his bike the rest of the way down. He was unhurt, but not sure the bike was as lucky. It was on a narrow part with a ledge drop-off so I think we were all a bit lucky to have survived.

Phil did find a hotel room for tomorrow. I am Ponferrada will be busy on this holiday weekend.
 
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2014, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Various routes...
I forget, Janet, so if you've already said please forgive me. Will Phil continue on the Frances at Ponferrada, or take the Invierno?
Buen camino to him!
I'm enjoying the vicarious journey.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
I forget, Janet, so if you've already said please forgive me. Will Phil continue on the Frances at Ponferrada, or take the Invierno?
Buen camino to him!
I'm enjoying the vicarious journey.
Tomorrow Phil will be in Ponferrada and will prepare to leave the Camino. He's been asked to come to a Language school and speak English to Spaniards for a week starting the 15th. We hope we can both come back this summer and walk the Invierno together and then serve as hospitaleros again. It is possible after he finishes his language school week that he may go to Salamanca and walk to Zamora before he heads home to the US or he may go back to Madrid and go to Spanish language school for a week.

Tomorrow I'll end this thread. If he picks up the Camino again in Salamanca, I'll report that as well.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
The 5 km down into Molinaseca this morning was apparently pretty brutal for Phil's knees. He fell a few years ago and had to have a quad tendon repair so he is quite careful and also fearful of falling. He had planned to take the road, but got turned around and found himself on the Camino path.

No cyclists this time thank goodness, but at the bottom just before the bridge he was passed by a Spanish couple. The man remarked how hard the descent was for them and then gestured to Phil's knee surgery scar with a comment of surprise that he had made it!

He stopped in Molinasecca for a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and baked beans. The beans are not an American thing, but he said he was hungry and it was good.

He's checked into his hotel now and was able to get 2 nights in a huge suite for the a Sr. discount price. He's off to the bus station to buy his ticket for Madrid for Wednesday and then to Decathlon to look for a new shirt.

He's going to be volunteering at a language school from the 15th to 22nd. He'll spend a week at a resort speaking English to Spaniards wanting to improve their English. Two of his Camino shirts are in sad shape so he was going to try to get a new shirt in his size. Not always an easy task when you are a 2x in Spain.

He'll spend tomorrow resting and trying to decide if he'll take a week of Spanish classes in Madrid before he heads home Nov 2 or if he will cab from the resort to Salamanca on the 22nd and then take 4 days to walk to Zamora. We loved Zamora when we served in the albergue in 2017 so he can take an extra day there if he wants before returning to Madrid.

We hope we can come back to Spain this summer together and serve, walk, and/or go to school.
 

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