Thursday, November 12, 2009
From Riego de Ambrós to Ponferrada
It was still pretty dark as I started out of the village around 8 AM on a steep and rocky path going down through a lovely forest and passed beautiful groves of huge, old chestnut trees. - I got off track as I reached the road , probably because I was lost in thoughts, so had to backtrack about 2 km to get back on the right path, instead of following the road. - It was beautiful, but very taxing on the knees, as the track went steeply downhill on very uneven ground. Malinaseca came none to soon and there was a café for a eagerly anticipated coffee break!
From there it was a long 8 km in to Ponferrada through some vineyards, then a long slog through neighborhoods and industrial areas on paved road.
I found the refugio without problems just outside the old part of town. It was a nice, municipal albergue, and one of the volunteers was a very friendly woman from Texas, who went around and served ice tea, while we waited. They opened for check-in at 2 p.m., but they had shower and laundry facilities adjacent to the church across the courtyard that were open, so I had my shower and laundry done while I waited. After getting settled in, and chatting a bit with a Danish guy named Lars, I went in to the old part of town, which was quite lovely, and dominated by the huge, medieval castle built by the Knights Templar. I had a nice glass of wine and a pizza on the square by the church, and enjoyed the scenery and resting my tired feet. On the square I notice a sculpture made by the artist who had a special exhibition at the art museum I visited in Estella - I could recognize his distinct modern style.