Day 23 – El Camino – Villafranca del Bierzo to O’Cebreiro

Villafranca del Bierzo to O’Cebreiro, hungover. Exhausted. Unmotivated. Today was the second toughest days of the entire walk, 36km with a 700m ascent (accrued ascent of 1200m).

~7 hours
4X water purification tablets; packed my daypack into my big backpack for a change
morning was overcast and cool; late morning was sunny and warm; midday it was sunny and hot; afternoon was sunny and hot, though we had plenty of shade
– Albergue: 6€

I woke up at 5h00 and went online for the first time in four days. I had set myself the challenge of being offline and I succeeded.

I stood next to Matt’s bed the whole time and every half an hour I would poke his arm to wake him to ask if he was yet ready to leave.

We left at 8h00. As we walked we were all dreading the first mountain climb, but after 4.8km we realised we had inadvertently taken the path which avoids it. *phew*

But still the killer climb was waiting for us at the end, 20km away. We stopped in at nearly every town on the way. It was either someone was hungry, or thirsty, or busting to go to the toilet.

About halfway through to our destination town, there were signs saying horses were available to take up the mountain for the 9km climb.

We were keen, but when we got there, there was only one horse and it wasn’t going to work out for us.

The path climbed for some time then divided: left for walkers; right for cyclists.

We descended into a valley and crossed over to another mountain whose path was something straight out of Kokoda. Here are some pictures for comparison.

The path was like this for about 3km and we finally made it into the town. I bought a hat pin, with the Australian flag crossed with the Camino scallop flag.

The albergue was well-situated, overlooking the valley below and mountains beyond. Quite a sight really!

The showers were kind of communal, no doors. Doodles everywhere.

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