We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. The sun was consistently bright, and it was one of the first days we could wear a single layer.
Leaving Ponferrada was a little tricky. It is a very modern city for Spain and has some industrial areas. The path was not well-marked and some very dear older men out for their morning strolls kept pointing the way.
It seems that each day there is a noticeable change in the scenery. Today we were out of the woodlands and back into farmlands and vineyards. (Photo 1) But we could still see those snow-capped mountains.
We went through a number of small towns, most of them starting with the letter "C". They lacked some of the medieval quaintness we had seen in many others and most were a bit more modern. However, in all these towns you find the historic church and the occasional antiquated structure falling into disrepair with a "Se Vende" (for sale) sign. Someday some enterprising person will start a Casa Rural (small hotel) in one of them.
In Columbrianos I found this painting on the outside of Ermita San Blas church. I just thought it was cute. (Photo 2)
Much of our walk today followed roads in and out of cities, sometimes with sidewalks and other times not. (Photo 3) One narrow country road took us through small farming communities where we saw husbands and wives working together in their small fields, turning straw or planting crops.
Towards the end of today's journey, the path went gently into the hills where all we could see were vineyards. (Photo 4) It was a lovely walk and then we came down into Villafranca del Bierzo (pop. 5,000) our destination for the day. (Photo 5, 6)
This city has a number of very large churches in all styles, a huge castle, an English garden with a fountain and rose bushes, and a lovely ambience.
We stayed at the Casa Mendez for 49€ and had a room overlooking Rio Burbia. (Photo 7)
We ate dinner at a restaurant at Plaza Mayor and ran into a number of our pilgrim friends, even ones we hadn't seen for awhile like a young couple from Nashville. We always end the day full.