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Camino de Santiago, Day 11: El Acebo de San Miguel to Las Herreiras

If there is such a thing as a "5-Star" Pilgrim's hostel, this must be it.
If there is such a thing as a “5-Star” Pilgrim’s hostel, this must be it.

Welcome to the DAY 11 post of our Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage by bike which happened on the 4th of June 2015. We did this stage of 61.89 Km or 38.5 miles from El Acebo de San Miguel to Las Herrerías in 6h and 12 min, of which 3h 58 min were of actual moving time.

Picture taken from the old stone bridge over the Meruelo river in Molinaseca.
Picture taken from the old stone bridge over the Meruelo river in Molinaseca.

I left the 5-Star hostel “La casa del peregrino” about 8 in the morning as usual, and as usual Fernando had already left by then. El Acebo is located at an altitude of 1,130m according to my Garmin and in a period of just 15 min I went down nearly 500 m and covered more than 10 Km distance. The only thing preventing me to go faster was the tight curves and turns of the road, which nearly tricked me once and forced me to go over the opposite lane due to the speed I was riding. Thankfully there was no incoming traffic, or that could have been a problem. In Molinaseca the altitude evened out and remain more or less constant through the ride this day.

Molinaseca Stone Bridge
Molinaseca Stone Bridge

I crossed through the village of Molinaseca, but not before taking a couple of pictures from the old stone bridge over the Meruelo river, built in Ancient Rome times.

Next was the town of Ponferrada.

City Hall of Ponferrada
City Hall of Ponferrada

As I arrived in the town centre I found Fernando taking pictures. This town has that wonderful mix of new and old and would be worth staying for a couple of days, if you can afford it. I believe one of the main attractions is the Templars‘ Castle known as the “Castillo de los Templarios”.

Templars' Castle in Ponferrada
Templars’ Castle in Ponferrada

It’s is a well preserved and impressive middle-age edification and has all the characteristics you would expect of a middle age castle.

Main gate of the Templars' Castle
Main gate of the Templars’ Castle

Fernando and I made a Breakfast stop in one of the restaurants facing the Castle.

Breakfast is served.
Breakfast is served.

After Ponferrada we rode through small towns and villages such as Camponaraya, Cacabelos, Pieros and Villafranca del Bierzo where we stopped for about 15 min for a rest and something to eat and drink.

A Wolf on a bike
A Wolf on a bike
Villafranca Castle. Michael, one of our "Camino" friends can be seen riding his bicicle in this picture.
Villafranca Castle. Michael, one of our “Camino” friends can be seen riding his bicicle in this picture.

Villafranca de Bierzo is an old medieval town with very interesting architecture, such as the Villafranca Castle, the church of San Juan and other religious buildings such as the Collegiate of St. Maria and the convents as well as the narrow bridge over the river Burbia overlooking the town.

Picture taken from the narrow bridge over the river Burbia.
Picture taken from the narrow bridge over the river Burbia.

The route then follows the “snake” like path of the N-VI road alongside the magnificent A-6 motorway (Autovia del Noroeste) crossing under it several times. With its many tunnels and high valley bridges, whose pillars can be seen from bellow, the motorway offers an interesting and modern perspective to the views on the road (N-VI).

Mix of old and new in Vega de Valcarce.
Mix of old and new in Vega de Valcarce.

This road also follows the path of the small Valcarce river which lends its name to some of the towns and villages along the way.

As I was pedalling on the shared pedestrian / cycle path, protected from the cars by a concrete wall, I kept looking at small river below and all the green around it and thinking that the people who travel at 70 – 80 mpg on the motorway above will never know the natural beauty that was just below them. This is something you can only experience in slow forms of transportation such as cycling or if you are walking.

Along this route we crossed through the villages or towns of Pereje, Trabadelo, La Portela de Valcarce, Ambasmestas, Vega de Valcarce, Ruitelán until we finally decided to call it the day in Las Herreíras.

Albergue Las Herreíras (Hostel)
Albergue Las Herreíras (Hostel)

Las Herreiras is a tiny village just before the El Cebreiro mountain which is known as one of the greatest challenges of the Camino and we could see a storm approaching in the horizon, so it made sense to stay there. To my knowledge there is only 1 Pilgrim’s hostel in Las Herreíras, appropriately called “Albergue Las Herreíras“.

Detail in Las Herreíras.
Detail in Las Herreíras.

The hostel was 8€ for the night and is run by a nice lady who speaks many languages (I’ve overheard she talking in Spanish, German, English and French) who is a strict vegetarian. She offers evening meals, but no meat.

Las Herreíras
Las Herreíras

She cooks the meal herself and there is no menu to choose from. I believe she charged us 12€ and it had soup, some type of salad as main meal and carrot cake as desert. It was enough and delicious even for a meat eater. Other than that there is only 1 other place in the village where you can get something to eat.

Two Pilgrims of different species
Two Pilgrims of different species

There are essentially only 2 rooms. The upper floor has the main room with about 10 bunkbeds and a small individual room for 2 pilgrims or a couple which costs a bit more (12€, I believe). Downstairs there is a small reception and the common areas with two bathrooms / toilets, a laundry area with a washer / drier and the dining room with 1 big and 1 small table.

Willy is an 8 year old daschund pilgrim.
Willy is an 8 year old daschund pilgrim.

After having a shower and handwashing a few pieces of clothes I had a walk through the village and took a few pictures of the small “Las Ramas” river by the village. Moments later the storm came and a flash of lighting appeared to have been the cause of the complete power blackout in the village for more than 1 hour. The time was spent talking to other pilgrims from various parts of the world and playing cards.

It was an enjoyable evening. The “No Wi-Fi” policy of the hostel actually works 🙂

No Wi-FI in the Albergue
No Wi-FI in the Albergue. “We want you to talk to each other”.

That’s it for day 11 of the Pilgrimage. Please feel free to leave comments, questions or at least indicate if you liked it or not by clicking on the stars in the bottom of the post.

 

 

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