After leaving Astorga it was about a 27 km walk to the summit of Cruz de Ferro (1500m).
I continued another 9 km down to the village of Acebo where I stopped for the night.
The next morning the Camino continued to descend to the village of Molinaseca where I had breakfast, then continued on to Ponferrada. Ponferrada is a beautiful city.
I wish I had stopped there for a day, but I wanted to get over the final mountain of the walk before it began to rain. I completed 40 km of walking for the day in Villafranca del Bierzo. It is in the center of the Bierzo wine region, known for Mencia wines that are aged for as little as two months. I did learn that there are 3 reasons the Mencia grape is grown exclusively in this region, but my Spanish gave out on me before I learned what the 3 reasons are.
The next day was a 30 km climb to the summit of O Cebreiro (1330 m).
Friday night was very stormy with fierce winds and heavy rain, but by morning there were just occasional showers. I walked 43 km through thick mud to Sarria, just over 100 km from Santiago.
The quality of the food had plummeted after Astorga, and Saturday night I got food poisoning. Sunday my whole body ached and I struggled to drag myself 21 km to the next village, Portomarin. The number of pilgrims also increased drastically after Sarria – I saw more pilgrims on Sunday than I had seen previously in the entire month. In order to get the Compostela, the certificate that one has walked to Santiago, one must walk 100 km. Therefore many people start walking in Sarria because it is 100 km away.
I had 7-Up and ice cream for lunch on Sunday, then slept for 16 hours. I felt much better Monday morning, and after a breakfast of bananas I did an easy 22 km. to Palas de Rei. Tuesday I took it easy again and walked 25 km to Arzua through occasional rain showers.
Tuesday night there was heavy rain, but once again by morning there were just light showers. I thought I was going to walk into Santiago having never been rained on. But after about an hour it began to pour, and it poured on and off all day. In places the mud and water was calf deep, and since my shoes were only ankle high they were soon filled with mud and water. Wednesday turned into a 39 km slog into Santiago – I didn’t want to stop because I didn’t want to have to put on wet and muddy shoes the next day.
I was planning to leave today (Friday) for Finisterre, but my shoes are still wet, so I’ll leave in the morning. It is 90 km to Finisterre, and when I reach there I will have walked to what was the end of the earth for most of European history.