I´m in Villafranca del Bierzo. I walked 22 km today! Yay, me! You may note that this is the SECOND Villafranca I´ve been in. All the names are starting to run together for me. The joke with pilgrims is to ask them where they stayed last night (as in the town) and you get this funny, blank look. Ask them where they´re going today and most of them know. A lot of pilgrims (Germans especialy) treat this walk like a race. They give themselves 21 days or something nuts like that and just rush through the whole thing. Not that I have any judgment about it or anything. 🙂 Anyway, most of us know how far we are going but have no idea where we were last night. I actually know that I stayed last night at the Novo Hotel outside of um… yeah. I can´t remember. But it sucked. They should call it the Hotel NoVA. Some dude was talking on his cell phone behind my head until 1am.
But I digress. Great news! I met up with Katrin, the nurse from Austria today — totally by accident! It was such a happy reunion and we had a blast catching up and talking about all the people we´ve met from the beginning along the way. I think we´re going to walk again together for the remainder of the trip, but we´ll see. You never know on the Camino.
We are walking through a region that has a unique microclimate (the trees and flowers are 3 weeks ahead of anything I´ve seen the whole time) and is quite famous for its wine. In and amongst the grape fields, we walked by a few older señores in an open garage who were in the middle of making their lunch. Vino? One of them asked me. I thought he meant to buy — especially when I asked him if he made it himself. After a glass of red for me and a glass of white for Katrin, he wouldn´t accept payment. He wished us a buen camino and gave us each a kiss on each cheek. I have a million stories about friendly (but not over-friendly) older Spanish gentlemen. What a delight. Another Camino angel.
I told myself this morning that if I could get to Villafranca, I could stay in the Parador here. The Parador is a little like McMinamins in that they purchase historic buildings throughout Spain and turn them into 4- and 5-star hotels. It was my carrot on this cold and rainy day (sounds like we are having the same kind of weather!). And with a tropical-like storm over most of Spain, no part of the country is spared except the Canary Islands. And although my energy flagged and I coughed a lot, I got here on foot the whole way. And I actually feel pretty good tonight. Well. hell. Of course I do. I´m staying in a freaking 4-star hotel! Breakfast included!