CAMINO FRANCES – DAY 16

MANSILLA DE LAS MULAS – LEON

12 APRIL

18.6km

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

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.

IMG_8764

Medieval bridge before Villarente

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

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

In Arcahueja we decided to stop for breakfast – we had after all more than enough time to get to Leon. When it came to breakfast choices, our friends (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 (we are after all South African meat eaters 😁).

IMG_8765

Breakfast – Chorizo, bread and café con leche

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.

The last gravel road before we walked into Leon. The pedestrian bridge over the motorway is on the outskirts of Leon

As we walked into Leon, we headed towards Albergue Santa Maria de Carbajal, a Benedictine monastery situated in the old city … this is where most pilgrims doing the Camino will sleep and we were hoping to find available beds here.

As we were standing in the queue to get a bed allocated to us, I overheard that women are accommodated on one side and men on another side of the albergue. As we got to the front, the nuns looked at our passports and asked whether we are married. I replied “yes” and then they sent us off to the “married quarters”. It was interesting to see that there were not a lot of married pilgrims (we were maybe 5 couples) … 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.

IMG_8778

The entrance of the albergue Santa Maria de Carbajal

The albergue was almost full and we 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.

IMG_8803

Backpacks in a long row against the wall in the albergue

We 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 had something cold to drink, we set off to explore the old city of Leon. Monica, Gloria and Javier joined us walking up and down the streets of Leon. There were many tourists and pilgrims in the streets and restaurants and one almost felt claustrophobic after all the quietness on the roads the past week.

In front of the Leon Cathedral and exploring Leon

IMG_8821

Javier and Gloria joined us in the streets of the old city of Leon (Monica took the photo). How do you recognise a pilgrim? On their flip flops of course

IMG_8822

A happy moment – ice cream time! Almost impossible to 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 spent some time watching these – it was astonishing to see the effort that was put into these celebrations.

We had to be in the albergue at 22:30, because that was when the nuns locked the doors … time to go to bed. There were still a lot of noise outside and it was difficult to fell asleep.

We were glad we had the opportunity to see a little bit of Leon, but were also looking forward to going back to the villages tomorrow!

2 comments

  1. I understand what you mean about a big city after having been in the country. I love that table at breakfast, a Gibson guitar and a beer as a table, brilliant. You ask, “what more do you want?” for breakfast, well, that beer magically materialising from the tble would have been a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s