This day of walking the Camino was not only long (more than 30 km), but it also started extremely early! Snoring in the room was unbearable during the night and when I felt the vibrations of the alarm I felt so relieved! I was ready in no time (something I usually do not do in normal life) and we were out (of course after breakfast). We started following the road in front of the albergue in the opposite direction of the village and after a while I seriously got worried that we had taken the wrong direction. It was completely dark, we saw no yellow arrows and there were no pilgrims walking the Camino after us. So we walked in silence, hoping.
Luckily, finally it turned out we are on the right track.
Before we realized it, we were in Ponferrada.
Cafeteria Godivah is definitely a place to drop your backpack for a while and enjoy a nice cup of coffee, relaxing music and delicious treats. It is opposite the Templar Castle, quite easy to spot.
Ponferrada took a while to pass, it is a town and quite busy as well (well, perhaps compared to all the villages we were passing through so far).
The rest of the day has made the memorable note in my mind of walking the Camino in the sun for hours through what seemed to me eternal vineyards and some small villages. The views were fantastic, however, at some point I was longing for some shadow. Sadly, the vineyards provided none for me. I definitely challenged myself that day, and this is one aspect of the Camino I highly appreciate and treasure.
We chose to stay at Albergue Ave Fenix. Quite a pleasant surprise was that most of the loveliest people we have shared one room with the other 2 nights, were there as well! One of the sides of walking the Camino I enjoy the most – bumping into nice people all the time, especially if you follow the main stages. After a few days we broke away from them as we had to squeeze one stage in between and suddenly all the people we used to walking and sharing the same albergues every night vanished.
We also received first-class service from one of the hopsitaleros in the albergue, who took my rucksack on his back and lead us to our beds. Hurrah! Chivalry is not dead. Or perhaps I just looked like pure disaster when I got there and the man took pity on me.
After a delightful shower (yes, you start to appreciate some ordinary things), we took the regular walk in town. To sum up, Villafranca del Bierzo is adorable. Nice square with restaurants/bars, shops are found easily and in general very calm atmosphere. Logically, after walking (here and there dragging) side by side with THIS amount of vineyards throughout the day, we felt obliged to try some local wine. Well, maybe it is due to the amount of sun they receive (a lot), but the wine was very fine and, on top of everything, cheap. What a wonderful world.
We had been walking the Camino for 3 days, I was already curious what day 4 would bring.