Villa Franca del Bierzo to Ruitelan – 20.7K

This entry is part 9 of 29 in the series Part 4: Astorga to Santiago to Finisterre

El Paraiso del Bierzo* (56€)

We have breakfast at 7:30 AM (a hotel breakfast we didn’t want and that cost 10€ each!  I must remember to pass on any hotel breakfast next time).  Out the door at 8:35 for a goodly march, but not too hard… with much of it along a road with a barrier between traffic and pilgrims.  The way is slightly uphill, along the Rio Valcarce.  No rain but threatening.  Stop at a bar, La Puente de Los Peregrinos, owned by a couple from Amsterdam… very nice, complete with fair trade coffee.  We are surprised at how far we have come and push forward buoyed by our C&CC and chips.   The next stop is a tiny church offering a stamp for our credenciales.  Nick is in picture mode and it is raining, suddenly.  The camera goes away, but then so does the rain and off we go… 4 kilometers more, we figure, an hour.  We hasten through little towns and up into a canyon, still along the river… with a sudden stiff, cold wind in our face.  We pass through the town we thought was our destination and our Casa Rural is not in evidence… Nick checks the guidebook and believes it is on up the road… We both silently worry they will have no food and then WHAT???  Finally, around a bend, there it is… a spiffy Casa Rural, bar, bocadillos, comidas… Hurray!  We have a charming room, all stone and wood.  We enjoy lunch in a glassed-in room with views of mountains above and the river below.  Nick:  empenadas and pimentos / Bonnie:  ensalada mista and two fried eggs with potatoes.  Shared:  cheese cake for dessert (all for 24€).  B+N. Up at 5:30 to read, then down for dinner, with a very loud Italian – or maybe Portugues? – group next to us, puffing with self-importance.  Bonnie:  Galician soup (aka caldo Gallego, a new discovery, delicious); it’s a lamb broth with beans, potatoes and chard.  Next, trout with boiled potatoes dressed with olive oil and paprika. The trout are small, but there are four of them, lightly breaded, fried and quite good.  All day I’d walked beside a river that screamed “TROUT” and I just had to order them. / Nick:  Tavern cod which he thought would be fish and chips and definitely wasn’t.  Both:  la tarta de Santiago, a yummy honey cake.

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