Day 27: Molinaseca to Ponferrada

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We took our time this morning as we were staying in a neat old pilgrims hostel.  We ate breakfast in the lower level of the building.  Sandy believes this must have originally been the barn or a metal workshop.

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It had two fireplaces and a metal hood which kept the heat low.  There were benches around all sides of the fireplaces, so guests could warm up more easily.

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They provided food and a kitchen, so I made Sandy and me some scrambled eggs and toast. The old sink was made of carved out stone.

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The room had many antique items on display, including ox yokes and lots of the original tools used back in its heyday.  This sled was really interesting. It had sharp rocks driven into its wooden bottom. 

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I am guessing it is some sort of rake pulled by livestock. If anyone has a clue what this is send me a quick comment.

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Well, we have been trekking on the camino for 26 days and have yet to really be rained upon during our hiking.  This was totally unexpected as we were told to expect quite a bit of rain along the way.  Finally this morning we awoke to a steady rain. A quick check of the sky looked pretty bleak and our weather app indicated a high and low today of 54/34 degrees with mix of rain and heavy sleet. Heavy sleet?  Thankfully, the app was reporting today’s weather based on yesterday’s stop, near the top of the mountain we crossed.  We were now in the foothills so thankfully our forecast included just rain.  Still, I felt sorry for those pilgrims a day behind us.
We left the hostel and worked our way uphill on the camino in a heavy mist which quickly turned into a steady rain.  We finally had an opportunity to test out our rain gear.  It rained all the way to the top of a ridge we crossed.

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Wet on the outside, dry on the inside.

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Our short hike to Ponferrada was highlighted by crossing another medieval bridge just before entering the city.

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The 12th century Knights Templar castle was incredible and across the cobblestone lane from our hostel.   We checked into our room around 1230 and went straight outside to the tourist information center.  They gave us the good news and the bad news.  They advised since today was a regional holiday it was a free day to visit all of the city museums, including the Knights Templar Castle.  The bad news was all businesses were closed and all museums would close at 1400 today. 

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With just over an hour we needed to be quick about our visit. The Knights Templars protected pilgrims from harm on the three major religious pilgrimage routes of the time. The routes to Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago.

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There were some really interesting relics inside. This 12th century cannon was the oldest one I have ever seen.

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Loved the steel rams head made to counterbalance the barrel weight.

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The trajectory was adjusted by lifting up the barrel and moving the wooden base’s huge pegs up the latters on both sides. Simple, yet effective.

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There was also the original castle within the walls of the big castle.

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The design was extremely well thought out and fortified. To enter one would have to work their way up an extended ramp past several elevated defensive portals on all sides. Then, the drawbridge would need to be lowered. Once across the drawbridge, entry would need to be made through a huge reinforced doorway. If entry was gained through this door, one would be in a 10 meter angled entry yard, surrounded by yet more elevated fortifications on both sides.  The angles prevented momentum from ramming the final reinforced entry doors and would make any army surrounded by defensive portals. It really was a brilliant blueprint for preventing entry.

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If the castle was surrounded there were plenty of animals, food and a deep well safely kept between its walls.  The Knights also built a tunnel, still in perfect condition today, which runs down from the castle to an underground cistern located next to the river.  They really thought of everything!

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The museum had some amazing historic books, artifacts and drawings.

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So, this day was short on distance but long on memories.  

Total trek distance was 7.5 km (4.6 miles).

Tomorrow we will on a much longer day as we continue onward toward Santiago.

Buen Camino!

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2 Comments

Filed under Mark & Sandy's Camino 2014

2 responses to “Day 27: Molinaseca to Ponferrada

  1. Mindy King

    Beautiful photos of the castle. We look for your posts daily and enjoy every detail about lodging, traveling companions, food, and the trail. Wishing you well as you journey on!

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