Moncloa de San Lazro (67€)**
Out of the hotel at 8 AM, and down to a sweet shop on the corner for coffee and churros. We meet Andrea from Texas and she is “our new best friend” for the day. We walk together through Ponferrada and then through a series of small towns, all half-old and half-new and mixed up in weird ways. We stop for C&CC, then easy walking through vineyards just beginning to leaf out… a bit magical in a rainy mist. We reach our hotel just in time to see our carrier from Jacotrans delivering our duffel. We shake his hand and give him our muchas gracias for his good work. The hotel is an enchanted Inn. It has a gift shop filled with treasures from the surrounding region… and they welcome pilgrims with wine and a bite of empanada. We give Andrea our share of the empanada. We then are shown to our room… beautiful!!! Old-style beds and a great bathtub. The downstairs café is old stone, very cozy and upscale, and we enjoy a nice lunch, ordering modestly off the menu. We share a green salad, local roasted red peppers, and empanadas with local wine… for 24€, perfect! I have noticed that the preferred lunch time really begins at 2 PM. Time out now B+N plus reading… Nick, The Rainmaker; Bonnie, Sacred Heart. We have dinner in an upstairs dining room around an open fire… good. We both have farmhouse soup and a local salad, followed by Nick’s grilled lamb chops with great fries, and Bonnie’s fried somethings??? with boiled potatoes … I should have stuck with the appetizer courses… OH WELL! Gin and Tonics to start, then local Bierza wine. Dessert is a shared lemon cream with chestnuts (dinner total 65€). All and all, the loveliest place we have stayed in Spain, though not in France.
NOTE for the future: If second course entrees appear blah-yucky on a Pilgrim’s Menu/Menu del Dia, instead ask for two first course appetizers, near-always tastier! Same price.