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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 42.5936, -5.56992
There are two things pilgrims always talk about: injuries and snoring. All will admit to injuries or blisters, but rarely will anyone admit to snoring! Except for Ian from Australia who says that he snores on his back, his side or his stomach and if you see him entering a dorm room, go to another room!
Well, you don't usually have an option of what bed you get because they are almost always assigned and, as a couple, you usually get lower and an upper. Last night we had only eight in our room, but Jeanine from California had one of those machines that wake you up in the case your snoring interrupts your breathing. She was on one side and a very nice Polish guy on the other! We did not have a chance!
Our hosts at this "all pilgrim" hostel were really sweet and gave us breakfast using their china. Although it was just coffee, juice, toast and jam, it was a nice gesture and allowed the pilgrims to share a meal. Don't know how they can charge only 5 Euro, but there was a donation cup for breakfast. When we left, both the husband and wife hugged us
both, called us by name, wished us a Buen Camino and a good life!
We hit the Camino at 7:45, pre-dawn. We, unlike yesterday, could see our way and had pilgrims in sight. We took pictures of a monument to the pilgrims and and a silhouette of the sun rising over this pretty medieval walled town.
We were given a heads up by pilgrims and our guide book, that today's 18 kilometers to Leon would see lots of traffic, passage through industrial areas, and difficult directions to follow. We were so happy that we ignored the advice to take a bus. The first half was rural through fields fed by irrigation troughs. We passed a couple of towns that offered no pilgrim services.
Out first town stop was Villarente. Here a 20 arched, stone bridge crosses the Rio Porma. We passed a tobacco shop; what better place to check and see if they sold a deck of the traditional cards. Bingo, they had them. The only coffee option was on the main street passing through town with traffic at 40 mph - no thanks.
We moved onto Arcahueja and had coffee at Albergue Torre. We also bought a baguette for our leftover ham
and cheese. Turned out that we left the ham and cheese on the breakfast table back at a Albergue Gaia! We improvised and ate the baguette with leftover jelly packets.
It was a short 5 kilometers to Leon. It was very well marked and the city had a welcome table set up, stamped our credencials, gave us a map of the city, and highlighted the route to our Albergue San Francisco. Even with all of that, we asked two women for directions, and a third came up and led us to the correct street -- again, the Camino provides!
Our guide book described our Albergue as a pseudo-Albergue to help provide beds to pilgrims after the Municipal Albergue closed. It is actually a student dormitory for the school next door. What a great place! We got a private double room with bath, towels and they washed and dried our clothes for free!
Albergue is a short walk to the beautiful historic district. We deadheaded to the cathedral and square -- really beautiful. We also stopped at a Farmacia to get Dave some anti-itch lotion for his humongous bug bites. Then, we were in search of food since we had not eaten since breakfast. We found a cute sidewalk cafe called Sevilla where we had a white wine, Belgian beer, and a "Sevilla" salad with lettuce, shrimp, beets, carrots, avocados, tomatoes and a mayo dressing. They also served us some great tapas with our drinks. As we were sitting there, we saw Gudren from Germany again and found out about her last two days. Such a very nice person.
After lunch we strolled to the museum, some other narrow streets and decided we would find a market so that we could sit in a park during siesta and write the journal. On the street with our Albergue we found a little market with a great bottle of Tempranillo and some snacks. We got back to our Albergue and our laundry was washed and dried (amazing).
Went to a bazaar shop where they have all the "junk" in the world and got Sue some hair clippies.
Headed to an absolutely beautiful fountained park to relax, people watch and do some blog entries.
Noticed that all older people in the park are dressed up and there are all generations strolling.
We went across the street to San Francisco Church and St. Francis adorned the altar. Very ornate and beautiful church.
Returned to the Albergue and Cecelia from Vancouver was standing in the hall talking on the phone! We had been with them for several days but thought we may not see them again because of the difficulty of finding spaces at the albergues.
We dropped off some things and asked the hospiterio where to find good pizza. He showed us on a map and we weaved our way in and around the narrow streets to the tiny place but they were closed on Tuesdays! So, we stumbled onto a different pizzeria, El Altar. We each ordered a pizza and we shared a mixed salad. Everything was good but we each had enough pizza left for breakfasts! Coincidently, Gudren was there and Glenn and Tim. We almost always see people we have met along the way which is extremely important to the whole experience of the Camino. Then, as we left
we met a Spanish couple we shared a room with the night before who were sad because their Camino was ending in Leon.
It was still early and when we found another square with a lit church and an establishment called Vino Grifo, we stopped for a beer and a wine. It was such a picturesque square and they even served bread and cheese with the drinks.
With a map in hand, we walked toward the Albergue but did not recognize one landmark! We asked for directions several times and finally saw the park we had spent the afternoon in and then we were found!
The Albergue was a welcome sight and we had no roommates so we decided we would get up without an alarm or because other pilgrims were awake! Relatively short day tomorrow so no worries!
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