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Camino de Santiago 2018

Day 20 Mansilla de las Mulas, Day 21 Leon, Day 22 Villavante

SPAIN | Wednesday, 20 June 2018 | Views [233]

 We leave El Burgo Ranero again on a maple tree-lined path. Thousands of this maples have been planted on the trail to provide shade for pilgrims. These stone monuments are beautiful and simple reminders of why people have walked this trail for thousands of years. 


 Today we are walking along an old road that the Romans used to transport gold from Galicia to Rome. We can see the Cantabrica Mountains in the distance, some still topped with snow. There's art along this path illustrating some old tools and farming implements used by early settlers (Dintaman & Landes, 2017). We also pass through the town of Reliegos whose claim to fame is that it was struck by a meteor in 1947. The 38 lb meteor is now on display in a science museum in Madrid.



We arrive in Mansilla in the early afternoon and locate our hotel, the Hotel Albergueria de Camino and meet our very enthusiastic host, Javier. He seems really excited to see us and pulls us into the hotel cafe for some snacks and sangria. He was slightly disappointed that we had water... but he recovered quickly to regale us with stories of his visit to the U.S. in the 1980s on an educational teachers tour. He spent a week in Phoenix and was excited to meet pilgrims from that city. We had the best time visiting with him and listening to his great stories. His hotel is packed with local antiques. 


 Dining room at Javier's hotel. Dinner was completely different than anything we've had yet. Pork in verde sauce. Yummy.


This is the patio behind the hotel and you can see a few of the eclectic items hanging from the walls and scattered about.


 Jeff freaks out seeing a dead rat as we leave Mansilla the next morning. 

 This amazing bridge, with 20 arches, outside Villarente takes us over the Rio Porma. Villarente hosted the Camino's first ambulance service--donkeys who transported sick pilgrims to locale hospitals. We saw one donkey as we approached the town, but it appeared to be out of service.

As we enter the outskirts of Leon, we are detoured due to bridge construction. The detour, of course, leads us over a minor mountain. The silver lining? We had this beautiful bird's eye view of Leon. You can see the Cathedral in the distance. Leon's population is about 130,000 and it's a modern city with many residents living in highrise buildings downtown. It's a busy vibrant place and has been since about 1100 when it became a flourishing center for the wool industry and in 1188 hosted the first Parliament in Europe (Dintaman & Landes, 2017). Its wealth blossomed under Alfonso IX and enabled the city to build an amazing cathedral.

These are some of the original city walls on the outskirts of the city.


 Architecture is mixed, old and new, throughout the city business and residential districts.

Our hotel in Leon had this great sign for pilgrims--only 309 km to go!


We didn't see anyone in cowboy boots, but you can get yourself a pair in Leon. We have noticed that there's an abundance of shoe stores in the cities in Spain. Shoes are big here and everyone is wearing either new shoes or very well maintained shoes.


Street scenes in Leon. There's a trout festival here in late June that we will miss by about a week. Darn!


This store was filled with candies, chocolates and had a window display filled with fresh potato chips. I can tell you those chips are GOOD!

 Elvis is alive and he lives in Leon! The street scene below is from a neighborhood adjacent to the cathedral. 


 Monday was a holiday in Leon and there were hundreds of school children learning to dance on the cathedral square.


 Even the military school nearby was part of the festivities in the square.


Jeff is standing outside the main entrance to the cathedral. We took a tour of this cathedral known for it's amazing stained glass windoes. In the photo below you can see a tiny nun walking past the cathedral. Actually, she's a regular-sized nun, just dwarfed by this incredible building. According to Dintaman and Landes (2017), this is the fourth church built on this space. It was constructed in 1,205 in a quick 100 years. 









 We discovered a police station just a block from our hotel.

This statue of a resting pilgrim faces the Hostal San Marcos a 15th century pilgrim hospital, now a Parador hotel. This hotel, featured in the movie "The Way," is where Martin Sheens treats his friends to to an evening of luxury accommodation. 


Our hotel tonight is a historic mill converted to a bed and breakfast. It's a beautiful property, just a bit off the beaten track. Owner, Mercedes, is a wonderful host and our dinner meal, served family style, was delicious!


 The dining room of this bed and breakfast is filled with intersting antiques (not Jeff!), like these radios that my brother-in-law tells us are likely from the 30s or 40s.


Our fellow pilgrims at dinner: Louise and Helen from South Africa, and Fabio from Brazil.




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