Tue 13 Oct - Day 29: Foncebadon to Ponferrada 25km

575km walked. 210km left to walk.

Wake up at 6am. Pack up, get yesterday's now dry washing from next to the boiler, breakfast and then off. Before sunrise.

Because Cruz de Ferro, that pile of rocks where you add your own rock, in front of a cross on top of a telegraph pole, is only 2km. And from a well informed source, that would be Deb who is onto her 3rd Camino, suggested that Cruz de Ferro at sunrise is quite a sight.

Cruz de Ferro is also on the second highest point of the Camino at 1505 meters. The highest point is some 8km later at 1515 meters although that was not marked from what I could see. 

Here is me still half asleep in the bar...
...needing some fuel to get me started. 
Deb, the fearless leader with the torch, guided me and Win, who also came along, to Cruz de Ferro in the predawn light. 

I didn't bring a rock, and I didn't really have anything insightful or spiritual to say, and I didn't leave a note. But I could still wander up there and make my photographic mark. Sunrise behind the camera. 
And the opposite side with the sunrise in the distance. 
These memorials tend to have a lot of things stuck to them or left behind by other pilgrims or others. 
A closeup...
OK. Cruz de Ferro looked pretty darn spectacular at the time of sunrise. So one more final photo before we move on...
Yes, from what I could see, Cruz de Ferro is really a telegraph pole with a cross on top.  

I realized that we don't have a photo of Deb, the fearless leader from Marybyrbong in Melbourne. So here she is... 

We ended up walking together all day, with Wyn, Ben, Aaron, Sophie and several other familiar faces coming and going throughout the day. 
Wind turbines are really plentiful at least in the northern part of Spain and you can constantly see them somewhere. 
Manjarin was another old abandoned village that has been brought back to life and now has a permanent population of... 1. Hospitalero Tomas provides a very basic Albergue here, apparently with 35 "beds", make that mattresses on the floor.
Quite a place. You could stop for a cuppa but as there was nobody there apart from Tomas himself, we didn't. 
Oh yes, several dogs also form part of the permanent population of Manjarin. 
Moving right along and there was a donativo set up in exchange for... Who knows. Too early in the day at maybe 9am. 
Most of today had brilliant views given the height. 

Suddenly there was a sign from a Peregrino who did not make it to Santiago. 
Bad taste joke. The skull looked like it came from a dog. 

The next picture though is another road example from Roman times. 
According to a German man, this tree is 1000 years old. I asked him why he thought so, but his answer was a bit unsatisfactory along the lines of "you can tell from the bark"
The town of Molinaseca forms the end of stage 24 in the guide book and it's not hard to see why. 
Molinaseca is a lovely town, which looked quite wealthy. We stopped for an ice cream but then moved right along. Too early at 12pm to stop for the night. 
Ponferrada was clearly a wealthy town in its own right that did not need pilgrims. Markings were dismal and Deb who had already got lost here before got lost again together with the rest of us which were me, Ben, Aaron and Sophie. Yes, they're back!!

Albergues were scarce and we had already passed them on the way as we walked into Ponferrada. Plan B, and Deb who had been before had already booked a private hostel room, was that same hostel called Rio Selmo (no, not after the local river as that was called Rio Sil). 

I ended up sharing a double room with Ben, 25€ per person, while Aaron and Sophie shared another double room. 

We all reconvened at 5pm to go out for a few drinks before having a meal. 

The centre of town in Ponferrada is lovely and a table opposite the Castillo de Los Templarios was perfect. 
OK. A couple of close ups of my drinking buddies. Here is Deb. 
Sophie. Doing one of her extremely personal questionnaires. 
Of course, we need to include a couple of pics of Castillo de Los Templarios. It was quite impressive from the outside but I heard it was not much to see from the inside. 

Templars are clearly big in Ponferrada. This is a dedicated shop selling Templar stuff. I could only fit a small portion of the things displayed in the shop window in this photo. 
Dinner. Yes. Deb knew about a place that sold Garlic Prawn. Given the very ordinary food that's on offer at the various "menú del", it was time to eat better. 
OK. That was not prawns. That was shrimp. But still, good enough to order a second serving. 

There may be have been a bit too much vino Tinto in the end but it was a fun evening. 

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