Since we added a few miles yesterday, we only had about a mile walk to the summit of the mountain this morning. At the top, there was a tall pole with a cross on top called Cruz de Ferro. Pilgrims supposedly bring a stone from home to leave here, which I had read about before starting the trek, but I didn’t want to carry a stone the whole way! There was a huge pile of stones at the base of the pole, but it was still dark so we didn’t have a great look at it.
Once we hit the summit, it was all downhill. Ten miles of steep, rocky descent. With my history, I took it very slowly and we didn’t arrive in Molinaseca until noon. We had planned on continuing to the next town, but it was another five miles (2 hours), so we decided to stop here for the night, even though we had only done 12 miles. I was feeling great today…no pain anywhere, which was a surprise after the day I had yesterday. How does the body do that?!?
We found an albergue, Albergue Compostela, and were the first to check-in, so we got a room with just one bunk bed. We were able to shower and do laundry before anyone else arrived. As I texted Enrique ‘s nephew, Miguel, it feels like a 4.5 star hotel! (See below for what makes a good albergue ).
We had another lovely lunch on a patio right next to a Roman bridge as the Camino enters town. As we ate, we watched pilgrims limping across the bridge. (I said it was a steep descent!)
Roman bridge in Molinaseca:
So, what makes a good albergue? Here’s my list:
1. Open when you arrive.
4. Beds that are positioned for a sense of privacy or fewer beds in individual rooms.
5. Single beds ( instead of bunks)
6. Good mattress and pillow
7. Sheets on the beds. Some albergues sell disposable sheets for a euro, and a very few gave us disposable sheets for free. We finally learned to save those and use them when necessary, but real sheets are still the best.
8. A night table
9. A spot for the backpack
10. Outlet next to bed to charge phones (very important! A lot of albergues have one or two outlets at the end of the room to be shared with everyone.)
11. Individual light next to bed ( we only had this in one albergue, but it was so nice, I wanted to add it to this list).
13. Enough showers to avoid waiting.
14. Good water pressure
15. Hot water
16. Somewhere to hang the hand-held shower head that is traditional here in Europe.
17. A small dressing area with the shower so you have room to dress.
18. Hooks to hang everything.
19. Good drainage so when you dry your feet after your shower, they stay dry as you walk through the bathroom.
21. Breakfast provided at 6:00AM.
22. Communal dinner by 7:00PM
23. Quiet (no snorers!)
24. Along the Camino so we don’t have to walk out of our way.