DAY 16


MANSILLA DE LAS MULAS – LEON

12 APRIL

18.6km

We’ve started walking a little bit later than other mornings, because it was only 18km to Leon. But we’ve also heard that Leon is packed with tourists, backpackers and pilgrims because of Easter weekend … which meant accommodation won’t be easy to find. We’ve trusted that there will be some beds available …

One could almost immediately sense that you were busy nearing a big city. The ancient villages were gone and the walking path today almost run parallel to the busy main road.

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Medieval bridge before Villarente

When we were initially planning our Camino, we’ve sort of decided to spend an extra rest day in Leon. It was after all close to Easter weekend and we’ve learned that Leon has beautiful tourist attractions. But once you are on the Camino, your mindset totally change. You actually wanted to avoid the big cities and spent more time in the rural areas and ancient villages.

As we were approaching Leon, we’ve realised that one night will be enough for us for now … on another day (when we were not doing the Camino), we will bring justice to the beauty of Leon and spent more time there.

In Arcahueja we’ve decided to stop for breakfast – we had after all more than enough time to get to Leon. Our group (consisting of the group of Spaniards and Monica from Sweden), decided on the traditional tortilla (omelette), but me and Berto needed something more “substantial” and ordered chorizo sausage and bread (South African meat eaters 😁).

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Breakfast – Chorizo, bread and café con leche … what more do you want?

We were discussing the walk that suddenly changed from tranquility to hastiness. It seemed as if this caught everybody off guard. It was interesting on how one’s perception of relaxation can change when you are on the Camino.

A last gravel road before we’ve entered Leon. And then the pedestrian bridge over the motorway on the outskirts of Leon

As we’ve walked into Leon, we’ve headed towards Albergue Santa Maria de Carbajal, a Benedictine monastery situated in the old city.

As we were standing in the queue to get a bed allocated to us, I’ve overheard that women are accommodated on one side and men on another side. As we got to the front, the nuns looked at our passports and asked whether we are married. I’ve replied “yes” and then they’ve sent us off to the “married quarters”. It was interesting to see that there were not a lot of married pilgrims … this made me think that it’s possible that not all husbands and wives can (or want) to walk the Camino together. I felt quite blessed to do this Camino with my husband.

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The front entrance of the albergue Santa Maria de Carbajal

The albergue was almost full and we’ve realised that we were quite lucky to find beds available. Almost all of our Camino friends were in this albergue and it was great seeing everybody again.

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Backpacks in a long row against the wall in the albergue

We’ve decided to skip the laundry today – there were just too many pilgrims trying to get their clothes washed and dried. We do have two sets of hiking clothes and tomorrow is another day to do the laundry ☺️.

After we’ve had something cold to drink, we’ve explored the old city of Leon. There were many tourists and pilgrims in the streets and restaurants and one almost felt claustrophobic.

Me and Berto in front of the Leon Cathedral and exploring Leon

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Me, Berto, Javier and Gloria in the streets of the old city of Leon. How do you recognize a pilgrim? On their flip flops 😅

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A happy moment – ice cream time! Gloria, me, Javier and Berto cannot decide on a flavour!

Later that evening, there were a big gathering right in front of our albergue where there were once again processions to celebrate Easter weekend. We’ve spent some time watching these – it was astonishing to see the effort that was put into these celebrations.

At 22:30 the doors of the albergue were locked and we all went to bed. There were still a lot of noise outside and it was difficult to fell asleep.

We were happy to have seen Leon, but were also looking forward going back to the villages tomorrow!

Categories: Camino Frances (April 2017)

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