A total of 54 km over 3 days of easy walks! Mostly along the local highway and flatlands. Makes for boring walks, but a good time to catch up with friends and make new ones along the way!
Day 26 – first a shout out to the owner of Los Balcones del Camino at Sahagun for her lovely apartment and the best stocked pantry ever! Before setting out of Sahagun we ate breakfast with our flatmates, a Slovenian cycling couple aged 70 and 64 years! They started at St Jean Pied de Port too and cover about 50km a day. Their destination was Leon that day and ours was El Burgo Ranero – 17km down the road.
Day 27 – 19km today from El Burgo Ranero to Mansilla de las mulas – we left when the moon was up and then saw a beautiful sunrise over fields of gold!
We stopped at Reliegos, with a good number of bodegas built into the side of hills. We stopped for coffee at La Cantina de Teddy. We meet so many wonderful people along the way and some of the most precious are the Spanish who are so welcoming and generous with their love! The owners of the cafe here were very happy to have Indians at their place! The gentleman came out in the middle of his busy hour to talk to us. He wished us well, wondered if we were comfortable with the weather, since it’s so much like India (we didn’t want to explain that Bangalore is nothing like this!) and then wanted to take a photo with us.
We see evening mass here (8pm) which includes a pilgrims blessing.
Day 28 – Today we walk into Leon. It’s another easy stretch, but the last stretch is entering the city along city bridges and roads.
About 10k out of Mansilla we stopped at this little cafe on the way. Owned by Helena who lives on the property, it is a great place to pick up a coffee and snacks. She started the little cafe about 3 years ago and loves meeting and taking to the pilgrims! While we were chatting with her, another wonderful gentleman we’d meet on and off on the way, came in. Harald from Bavaria. We look forward to seeing him more often as we head to Santiago!
One of Leon’s glories is, without doubt, the Cathedral, they say one of the finest in Europe. I was moved to tears on entering the massive Gothic structure just filled with tall windows with stained glass. Gothic architecture is something else and my awe for it comes from listening to the audio commentary at the cathedral describing how the church was built! Gothic architecture’s defining features are pointed arches, rib vaults, buttresses, and extensive use of stained glass. Combined, these features allowed the creation of buildings of unprecedented height and grandeur, filled with light from large stained glass windows.
The colours are mesmerising and my iPhone camera couldn’t do them justice at all. It has more than 250 remarkable stained glass windows including a large rose window. In total there is over 1800 square metres of glass. Only the Chartres cathedral in France has a greater collection.
Designed in the 19th Century by the famous Gaudí, the corner towers make this building look like a fairytale castle and is one of the few building built by him in Northern Spain.
Hostal San Marcos, built in the 12th century, also known as the Convento de San Marcos, is the former house of the Knights of Santiago. This magnificent building was originally a Hostal built to shelter the pilgrims on the Santiago. In the 15th century it was converted into a monastery, in the 17th century it was a prison and during the Spanish Civil War, it served as an army barracks. Today it’s a star hotel run by Parador!
As we walked into Leon that morning, we didn’t find it as charming as Burgos, but after spending the evening in the Cathedral and the beautiful old town that impression changed! Leon is beautiful!!