Thu 15 Oct - Day 31: Villafranca Del Bierzo to Laguna de Castilla 28km

628km walked. 157km left to walk. 

Today is exactly one month since I wandered out of St Jean Pied de Port for my Camino adventures. I have seen a lot in that month, met and talked to a lot of people and obviously walked a hell of a lot. 

If all goes to current plan, I will walk into Santiago de Compostela in one week's time, Thursday 22 October.

I have already booked 3 nights in Santiago de Compostela from that Thursday, but I made sure that I can cancel or change those dates without cost for as late as possible. 

Back to today and breakfast at Albergue de la Piedra in Villafranca Del Bierzo has to be classified as best value yet at 2€. The usual suspects of coffee / tea / toast but also cereal and juices. Not only that, it started very early at 6.30am. 

That meant that Deb, Ben and I were on the road, a very very dark and cold road, before 7am. 

The weather was cold and frosty well beyond 10am as the Camino here is surrounded by hills and mountains. 

And farm animals. 
I really like this old and rustic sign. It's been there for a while. 
More pilgrim art along the Camino. 
The Camino today had a gentle climb up to a point, roughly the town of Herrerias. From there the Camino ascends steeply from 700 meters to today's destination of Laguna de Castilla at 1150 meters. 

There is another 150 meters ascension to the town of O'Cebreiro and weaker or adventurous pilgrims can do that stretch by horse. 
The reason for not walking the whole lot today up to O'Cebreiro is that it is only a small hamlet, with 50 inhabitants and 1 municipal Albergue.

This was another cool sign. 
The Camino and all the small hamlets and towns were constantly dwarfed by what looked like a very new autovia. It looked like a lot of money had been spent for motorists to have a smooth straight drive bypassing pretty much everything. 
More farm animals...
...and this guy just looked like he posed. 
Win suddenly appeared on the trail and joined us in the walking. We had 2 breaks including this one in Herrerias where I had a tortilla con chorizo. Which was very nice indeed. 
As we left that bar, what looked like a whole school class appeared on the Camino up the hill. Noisy. Scary. Please go away. See the pack of small people in the picture below. 
More pumpkins on steroids. 
As the Camino got closer and closer to Galicia (which we will cross into very early tomorrow), sign mutilation like the below become more common. 

For the uninitiated, one of the key differences between the Galician and the Spanish languages is that J is mostly replaced with X. As you can see below.  
As noted, after Herrerias, the Camino ascended quite steeply. This setup was likely there to encourage pilgrims on their climb, but today there was nothing to give a donativo to. All empty. 
Plenty of what looked like Roman roads here. Win is demonstrating how to walk those. 
Great views from the top. On a clear day, you can see to the horizon. With binoculars even further. With apologies to Russell Coight. 

Ben, Win and I arrived at Albergue La Escuela in Laguna de Castilla before 2pm. A nice, clean and spacious albergue where the name hints on a former life as a school. 

During the post walk drinks outside the albergue, several pilgrims with horns walked up the hill. 
Hmm... That doesn't seem quite right. 

Aaron showed up with all his band aids and compeeds on his feet. Poor guy, there doesn't seem to be an end to his feet problems. 
Dinner was "menú del día". Good. Great even. Lentil soup and chicken in beer sauce.

This was also very good. A sign in the wall in the restaurant's bathroom. 
At 7pm, the weather turned colder and it was time to retire to the room of beds. 

Ben was cold too, very cold. 
had a single bed and there was plenty of space so a good end to today. 

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