Thanks everyone for the kind birthday wishes. I did in fact have a good day, most of it spent without my backpack on my back.
A couple of days ago Tom and I made a command decision to hop a train from Sahagún to Leon, cutting out about three days of walking. We took the same "Camino cheat" last time, too, and for the same reason as we did it this time: we're so slow (translate: I'm so slow) that we risk running out of time if we don't cut out a couple of days somewhere. And what better place to cut out a couple of days then on the Meseta? 8)
So we took the 7:48 am train from Sahagún and arrived in Leon at 8:30 am.
I love Leon.
, It's my favorite city on the Camino.
As we hadn't had time to eat before we caught our train, the first order of the day after arriving was to find some breakfast. We stopped in a cafe that looked promising.
...and ordered our usual, two sunny-side up eggs with bread (and patatas fritas
- fried potatoes - when available, which they weren't here), orange juice, coffee, tea. Then we dug into the pastries. We started with a couple of churras, fried dough coated with sugar and cinnamon,
...then we ordered a napolitana, a chocooate- filled croissant, to share,
,...and the server, who by now must have had us pegged as a couple of hard-core cases, threw in a rosequilla,
....a sort of doughnut, but crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Goooood! Now, I've seen churros in the States, but I can't seem to remember if the napolitanas are only in France and Spain or if they're at Panera, too?
After breakfast next on the to-do list was to find a place to stay for the next two days, as we'd planned an extra rest day to visit Leon.
We'd hoped to stay in the same hostel we stayed at last time in we were in Leon, but the place was full. We found another place that the guidebook recommended but that place was full, too. We were wandering around when we passed an old stone building with a sign on the outside for an attorney's office and an orthopedic shoe maker.
"Let's try this place," said Tom, who was walking behind me.
"Nah, that's a shoe store," said I, walking on as the two-headed turtle poked its heads out.
I walked a few more steps then turned around to see that my mate was no longer behind me. He'd gone into the building, which looked like this on the inside:
"Didn't you see the little "Hostel" sign next to the other signs outside the door?" Tom asked.
I hadn't, but we walked on until we came ro a staircase,
...which we climbed up a couple of flights,
.....past the shoe maker, past the attorney's office, until we came to this door with the little "H" for hostel sign the next to it.
We rang the door bell and a friendly lady let us into the reception area, a charming,, homey little room with a nice view.
She asked us if we had a reservation and I said no, but that we were looking for a room for two nights.
She smiled sadly and said no, she was sorry but she was full.
We thanked her and turned to leave.
"No, wait!," she called after us, "maybe I have something for you."
I promise you I'm not making this up.
She gave us this nice room with a lovely bathroom for 43€ per night
Camino Karma comes through again.
With the our sleeping quarters squared away, the name of our hostel was the San Martin, we decided to go visit the Santa Maria de Leon Cathedral.
Again with the bars.
....but this cathedral's stained glass windows had the most beautiful and interesting designs.
While wandering around the cathedral I ran into one of our Camino friends, the Episcopalian priest we met and had dinner with back in Hontanas. It's funny about Camino friends. You meet each other along the way or in an albergue and you bond so quickly, and you may or may not continue seeing each other here and there along the way for a few days, then you'll travel on from each other, But if you happen to run into each other later along the Camino you'll be so happy to see each other again, you'll hug as if you were dear old friends. That's how it was running into this Camino friend, we were just so glad to see each other again, ask about each other's aches and pains and each find out how the other was faring.
My friend told me that yesterday on the Meseta he experienced the high point of his Caminio.
He came upon a group of twenty Lithuanian pilgrims who began walking their Camino in Lithuania 5 1/2 months ago. As they walked a group of them carried a large crucifix, which they took turns carrying. They were doing this pilgrimage as a show of support for the beatification to Roman Catholic sainthood of a Lithuanian woman named Barbora Zagarieté. The English-speaking member of this pilgrim group who told my friend all this then asked him why he was walking the Camino.
When he told her that he was an Episcopalian priest she translated for her group and they asked him to bless them. So he blessed each member of the group, laying his hands on the head of each one. He said that he experienced a beautiful feeling of community with these pilgrims that transcended the differences in their languages, cultures, and religions.
If there's one thing the Camino is about, it's community.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
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