Day 23 : Pieros to La Faba

Steve : As feared Jen’s foot and leg are in a very painful state. She seems to have done something to her toe, and in an attempt to compensate for that, she has done something to her leg.  The upshot is that she’s not able to walk today.

Hamish gets up at 6am and is out on the road. I’ll keep Jen company and we’ll meet him in La Faba this evening. We’ve had another good sleep with no snorers (either we’ve got the hang of this or snorers don’t go to hippy veggie albergues).

Jen and I have a leisurely breakfast with the hospitaleros and late departers…

…and catch the 8:30 (ish – it is Spain…) bus to Villafranca del Bierzo.

Villafranca del Bierzo

We find a bank, get more cash, and wait until 10am for the tourist office to open so we can figure out how to get a bus further up the valley.  Sadly it turns out that there are no buses today, so we admit defeat and spend 20 euros on a cab journey to Herrerias, the last town before the steep climb to La Faba.

Herrerias and horse

We are nearly in Galicia now and the landscape is changing yet again.  This really does look like Scotland now. Rolling hills with big peaks in the distance.

We stroll slowly up the hill to La Faba. It’s only 3.4 km but it’s hot hot hot and by the time we get there I’ve lost pints in sweat. We come upon a Catholic albergue with a fountain in the courtyard. A group of Americans, 4 siblings and a cousin, are cooling off with their feet in the cold water. They invite us to join them and it feels marvellous.

We pass a very entertaining couple of hours talking about life in the US and Europe. They are a fun group of young folks.

The fountain once everyone had departed

Hamish rolls up around 12:30. He’s set an incredible pace, averaging nearly 6km / hour. Impressive. We extract ourselves from the cold fountain and book into the veggie ‘El Refugio’ albergue.

The bunk room looks like something straight out of ‘The Hobbit’. There are about a dozen beds and mine is half way up a 6m wall, accessible by a big wooden ladder. The bathroom is built into the wall and is a work of art.  It’s very small but functional. Sadly there’s not enough sound proofing and I’m sleeping right next to it (and a German chap has, ahem, digestive issues and is a frequent visitor throughout the night…).

I skip the wash cycle and fall very much asleep for hours and hours.  Possibly a mistake as I struggle to sleep that night. I then read “The Martian” and wait for tea.

A small wander through the village, back to the other albergue and the old church.

1000 year old restored church

I come upon the American family and we get into discussion about education and jobs. It turns out that the cousin is studying geo-physics and astro-physics and has already been involved in getting a project on the International Space Station. I’m very impressed.  She talks of becoming an astronaut. We swap emails and I shall follow her career with interest.

Dinner is served at 8 to an enthusiastic crowd of some 20 peregrinos. It was an excellent meal, announced with great flair by the cook, who shouted, via a loud-hailer, the various courses. We ate well and discussed astro-physics. A splendid evening.

Off to bed…

It took me ages to go to sleep.  What with the lack of soundproofing in the loo and the aforementioned gentleman’s gut issues….  I listened to six ‘Jon Ronson On…’ episodes and eventually fell asleep around 2:30am.