Day 26: Ponferrada to Villafranca de Bierzo aka "A farmer doesn't eat what he doesn't know"
I had some coffee, OJ and the rest of the gluten-free bread I was given for free yesterday. It was surprisingly not that cold outside and the weather report said no rain, but the gray colored clouds seemed to think otherwise. I don’t trust meteorologists.
Today’s walk was mostly spent on navigating outside of Ponferrada was no easy feat. There were barely any visible arrows. Even cloudy, you could see how charming Ponferrada is with mountains peeking out on every side of it. We sat down for a real breakfast at the first town we saw for €6. In the following town of Fuentasnuevas, a woman outside or the church forced me to go inside and collect a stamp (what is up with people forcing their stamps on me?). The church was cute, if you can describe a church as such.
In the next town, we found a Bulgarian owned kebab place located in an indoor plaza.. Not as good though, and no chili for dip. Upon walking in, there was a feminist event taking place that the Bulgarian owners were catering to. We created our own table set with the remaining chairs available.
Upon finishing, we saw that it was pouring outside. I told you I don’t trust meteorologists. We decided to take shelter in the next bar down the road. Too bad I didn’t see this one earlier, because it had gf pasta, ramen and veg options. This spot is owned by a guy named Santiago (so, technically I already made it to Santiago? Ha). He was raised and lived in Holland for 40 years, therefore he speaks every language aka 5. Since we were the only customers there, we really got to talking with him. We talked about how Spain’s tourism is somewhat limited due to Spaniards not learning English. Both he and I believe this has to do with the fact that all non-Spanish Televison here is dubbed in Spanish, rather than just being subtitled. “Children watch so much television that this would be good for them. I know it was good for me in Holland.” We talked about how businesses view pilgrims considering how much €€€ they bring in. He said that 50%, more or less of pilgrims can be rude or feel entitled. Using the example of pilgrims rushing to his restroom, without actually buying anything and ignoring being called out it. “Do you think I want to smell their shit? They come here just to take a shit and think I might like it.” We nearly died in laughter. We lastly talked about the lack of variety in Spanish cuisine, which may have offended him a little bit? My point was that you don’t see any infusion. His response.. “A farmer won’t eat what he doesn’t know.” I think I understood?
On the way out, I ran into my German veg friend Christa, and told her about the bar owned by a Dutch Spaniard. She was stoked to hear about the veg options since she was staying in Cacabelos. Upon arrival to Villafranca de Bierzo, it was still pouring. I know this is also supposed to be another beautiful, older city. But the rain was masking it all. We were cold and wet and just wanted warm shelter. La Casa de Leo was simple, with clean rooms, an open kitchen and shared bathrooms. Our friend Pilar, from Long Beach was also staying there, which was nice. She invited us to dinner, but still being cold and wet and kind of far away from the city center, made us want to stay inside. We opted for our leftover bread and nuts. It was actually kind of nice to have the place to ourselves for a few hours. Hoping for lighter rain tomorrow !