Day 14, Oct 12: A Day in Leon

I awoke to light rain after a long deep sleep in my bed with extra pillows; it was alomst 9am!  I felt slightly ashamed for one second, thinking about all the Peregrinos (Spanish for pilgrims) who had been out walking for at least 2 hours.  I shrugged that off immediately, practicing my mental pathways of taking time off when I need it and not feeling bad about it.  I’m so glad I was able to complete the long walk yesterday so I could wake up here and have the entire day with no Camino walking, I do need it.

I piddled around, doing somewhat-meaningful odds and ends that I don’t really get (or make) time for or have the personal space to do when I’m walking the entire day and then crashing in a busy albergue.  I unpacked ALL my stuff and aired it out, including my sleeping bag, and hung up my jackets, I clipped my toenails, I assessed what I still have (and need to buy) in the way of toiletries.  I plucked my eyebrows.  Vanity!!  ;-)  I loaded up all my dirty clothes…ehhh, that is everything except for my raingear, which I  put on, because after breakfast my first stop would be to find a Lavanderia (laundromat).  I asked about where to find one at the hotel front desk and they told me there really aren’t any in Leon, and any laundry service would be closed today because it’s a National Holiday.  Oct 12 is San Froilan’s day and many places were closed.  There had been a parade and festivities all day yesterday, before I arrived into town.

I decided to just use the hotel laundry service.  I cringed at what it might cost but figured it would save me a lot of time, and I really needed to wash some things. Most albergues have one or two washing machines, and some have a drier, but because I typically walk long and arrive later in the afternoon or even early evening, I don’t usually have time to do laundry, the facilities are often in use already, and if there is no drier my stuff doesn’t have time to dry overnight.  I do safety-pin my socks and underwear (Classy, I know!) to my backpack some days to dry out after I have washed them in the shower or sink.  This Peregrina has to do what she has to do!

I did wash some of my small items in the sink in my room, and hung them all around to dry, then dropped off the rest to the front desk and headed out.  Went to the cafe next door which was bustling and fun to be in and watch people come and go.  The two young Spanish men behind the counter were juggling customers, making that brilliant cafe they make here, toasting bread, juicing oranges, and delivering food.  I ordered cafe con leche and two pieces of some kind of cornbread looking thing, which probably was just cake :)  I ate an apple I had brought, and read a little in my guidebook.

Next I walked a short distance to the Catedral Pulchra Leonia, that I had seen last night in the rain.  I bought a ticket to enter for 5 euros, and got the audioguide.  The history of this cathedral is very interesting:  it’s renowned for its 125 stained glass windows set high in the walls that shed a great lightness on the interior.  One consequence of this was that the structural integrity of the building had been compromised and part of the nave caved in during the 19th century, following an earlier collapse in the 17th century!  (info from the Brierly guidebook)  A few different architechts stepped in over the years to repair and rennovate, the last and greatest rennovation taking about half a century.  This cathedral is very important and special to the people of the Leon prodivence, and to the country.

Then I followed the yellow arrows through the city to see some more sights, and tried not to get lost!  Now that laundry wasn’t a task, I had more time to look around.  My other deisre today was to do some food shopping.  I planned to utilize my hotel room to the max by spending the late afternoon and evening in it, blogging, resting, and eating food that I would now go forage for and insert myself into the local life by doing so.

I have realized that besides my love of food and exploring the culture through it, I love to shop like this because it gives me a great opportunity to interact and talk with local people.  The Spanish culture really values food, so any conversation or questions one can ask a local about the topic creates some fun conversation, and they love to talk about food and make suggestions.  I stopped in about 6-7 different small stores or markets, talking to the owner or worker there, and getting suggestions or asking about their favorite cheese/pastry/type of bread before making my purchase.

I bought quiche and green beans for lunch, which I ate in a square while some live music played – a small band of 3 playing stringed instruments and an accordian – they were very good.  I sat on some steps and ate while I listened.

It was lightly raining on and off all day today, but I had my raingear on and had bought an umbrella.  It was nice not to be walking for hours in it, so I was thankful I had this day off from the Camino.

I saw a couple girls from an albergue a few nights ago; they were having wine at a bar near the live music.  We visited for a bit, then I joined them in their trek to a local grocery store.  It was a big contrast to the small-store shopping I’d been doing and enjoying.  The bigger markets have their place, of course; cheaper items and more selection, but I was so glad I had done the kind of food shopping I had.  I did buy some lotion and dental floss, though, which I wouldn’t have found at those other small locations.

Around 3:30 I headed back to my hotel, glad to get off my feet completely, and start my blogs.  I got to talk to Lucas by Skype, which was a really nice conversation not interefered with by bad wifi connection or loud background noise.

My dinner red wine (vino tinto), fresh bread, 2 kinds of cheese (goat and cow’s milk), asparagas  (jarred, green this time!), and fresh red peppers.  For dessert I had purchased a piece of apple tart and cheese tart.  Of course I could not decide between the two, so I bought both!

Thank you for reading my blogs; it means a lot to me to get to share my experiences with whomever is interested in reading.

I was inspired by another blogger who my friend Christy Graham (I mention her a lot because she helped me so much with my planning for this trip!) suggested to me before I left.  The blogger’s name is Kim and her site is:

www.somanyplaces.com

She is a wonderful writer, and her Camino posts and photos are outstanding.  She also has many other posts, as she’s a writer and a traveler.  Check her site out, if you want!

Me in front of the Catedral Pulchra Leonina during my touristy-day in Leon, Monday Oct 12.

Me in front of the Catedral Pulchra Leonina during my touristy-day in Leon, Monday Oct 12.

One of the sets of beautiful stained glass, source of light and also compromise to the building so long ago.

One of the sets of beautiful stained glass, source of light and also compromise to the building so long ago.

 

Approaching the Parador (historic building made into a fancy hotel) in Plaza San Marcos; part of it is a museum as well.  I just walked into the lobby, which was amazing and beautiful.

Approaching the Parador (historic building made into a fancy hotel) in Plaza San Marcos; part of it is a museum as well. I just walked into the lobby, which was amazing and beautiful.

 

A peaceful botanical garden and park, just off the street/Camino route.  I walked through and saw several roosters and peacocks roaming about!

A peaceful botanical garden and park, just off the street/Camino route. I walked through and saw several roosters and peacocks roaming about!

 

Within the botanic garden/park!

Within the botanic garden/park!

 

This peacock, and a few others along with the roosters, were also in the park.

This peacock, and a few others along with the roosters, were also in the park.

I thought this tree was very interesting in the way its leaves/needles were changing color.

I thought this tree was very interesting in the way its leaves/needles were changing color.

 

Busy streets in Leon; many people out and about this Monday, since it was a national  holiday and many didn't have to work.  It made the people-watching more fun, and is a nice contrast to the many small towns I pass through on the Camino.  Those I love, as well; they are more peaceful and have a completely different vibe.

Busy streets in Leon; many people out and about this Monday, since it was a national holiday and many didn’t have to work. It made the people-watching more fun, and is a nice contrast to the many small towns I pass through on the Camino. Those I love, as well; they are more peaceful and have a completely different vibe.

 

I could not leave you today without a food photo!  This isn't that great because of the glass glare, but there were a wonderous assortment of treats in this case, most notably righ in the middle there is a tray of "bombones de otono", which means Fall Bon-bons.  They are tiny little works of art made out of chocolate and other confections, made to look like pumpkins, leaves, acorns, etc.

I could not leave you today without a food photo! This isn’t that great because of the glass glare, but there were a wonderous assortment of treats in this case, most notably right in the middle there is a tray of “bombones de otono”, which means Fall Bon-bons. They are tiny little works of art made out of chocolate and other confections, made to look like pumpkins, leaves, acorns, etc.

 

 

 

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