Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that this summer (2019) I’m walking 200km along the Camino de Santiago, from Léon to Sarría in Spain. This is the fourth leg of the Camino which I started in 2016 (if you’re interested, I wrote a Q&A post in response to some of the questions people had asked me along the way that year), I’m completing a leg each summer until 2020. This is Day 30 (other posts linked at the end of this post).
Camino Frances Day 30: El Acebo to Ponferrada (approx 15 km)
This was, again, a shorter day today – I’d built in some “well under 20km” days and had been looking forward to this one, in particular the prospect of arriving in Ponferrada – a larger town that sounded interesting with a history that included the Knights Templar.
I took it easy today, mostly because I knew it was a short day but also because the terrain wasn’t exactly easy for a lot of the day… Started out ok…
Approaching Molinaseca, this was the situation…
And I didn’t realise it but I’d arrived in town on the first day of the the Knights Templar Festival!
Whoh! I retreated to my hotel room and read a little bit about it, figuring if I napped enough in the afternoon I might be able to manage to stay awake for the ceremony later on (at, like 9-10pm which is pretty much well past my bedtime when I am on the Camino!).
I rested then headed out around 6pm to check out the town… It’s GORGEOUS!
I did a bit of people watching…
And picknicked in my room because, being a “big town’, Ponferrada doesn’t strictly cater to the pilgrims wanting to eat at 7pm! After my picnic I headed out, thrilled to discover the gelatería across the street had finally opened (around 8pm!).
Ok so what was going on? Apparently, this….
Under the moonlight of the first full moon in the summer. Fray Guido de Garda, Master of the Order of the Templar Knights, comes back to the city of the Iron Bridge to seal an eternal pact of friendship and give it the custody of the symbols found in the holy land of Jerusalem: the sacred Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail.
After greeting the procession of Templars, thousands of people from Ponferrada dressed in medieval clothes walk up to the Castle looking after the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail.
I also read that the kids in the procession were “recreating town life” of the medieval times but somewhere else read that this was an “induction” (possibly a reenactment) to the Order. All a little confusing (and couldn’t exactly find much online) but certainly fun to be there for!
Verdict: LOVED my time in the “big city” and thrilled it coincided with the Festival! Was lovely to have SO much time in a town (I arrived at 11.30!) to wander and not be rushed and tired!
Stay tuned for the next leg which takes us to Villafrance del Bierzo.
Disclosure: I researched Camino trips independently and chose the Camino Travel Center based on a number of features such as flexibility to accommodate a couple of “splits” in some of the longer days, price and customer service. They were, in fact the first company I came across in my very first Google search and the one I ended up booking with. From the initial inquiry to the actual trips, they have been a pleasure to deal with and we have been very impressed with the service provided (bag transportation) and the accommodation choices. I was not compensated to write about this trip in any way but I love sharing companies and products I believe in with my readers. I couldn’t recommend the Camino Travel Center more and, in fact, am booking my last Camino walk with them for next summer (the summer I will finally reach Santiago!).
Read more about the Camino de Santiago
Click here to read all my posts about the Camino de Santiago!