Friday, June 1, 2018 … 18 km … 11 miles
After yesterday, I was ready for today. Not only is it going to be a short day, it is one of our shortest so far, but it was the day we were walking into Leon. The next day will be our rest day. I think we are all ready for the day of rest.
I had made Cale and me a reservation in Leon before we started walking. About a week ago, Natalie, Luca, and Minh said they would like to stay and rest as well. So, we changed our reservation to a room with 5 beds. Actually, it was a room with 2 bunk beds and they gave us an extra bed for Minh. It was tight but we have become so close, I think we would have felt weird being separated.
Today’s walk will be mostly beside the busy road, we will need to pay attention. Leon is a large city. Sometimes in the cities, it is harder to see the Camino waymarks, and also, we need to be aware of cars.
We all had a little pep in our step today. I think we were excited about arriving in Leon. And the rest day. Our little Albergue last night was nice, as I stepped outside, I snapped a quick picture.
The sun was on the horizon. Another beautiful sunrise on the Camino.
We made our way to the path along the road. Nothing special, just a walk today. But definitely an easy walk.
We followed the highway and watched the cars whiz by us.
As they passed, I was thinking. Are they on their way to work? What is their day going to look like? How would we be in America if we had pilgrims always walking along the roads? Would we be patient or would we get annoyed?
All these thoughts as each car whizzed by us. When the semi-trucks would pass, you would feel the cold breeze on you. It’s not my favorite to walk along the road but sometimes it is unavoidable.
As we entered Puente Villarente we had to make our way by the 20-arch bridge. Pilgrims used to have to walk the bridge, but due to it not being safe with the traffic, they have a footpath. The path has great views of the bridge.
The Cafe was the main focus. A much-needed bathroom break. It wasn’t hard to find, this town was not really a town, more like a bunch of buildings lining the highway. But nonetheless, we were able to have a break.
We crossed the road and made our way to the dedicated pilgrim track. Now time to start our incline for the day. At least it was a nice path.
The clouds were getting darker and it started to look like rain. We knew they were calling for rain but Cale was hoping it would hold off.
He still had no rain poncho. Leon was going to be the place to get a poncho.
“Oh, come on,” Cale would say. “I am so close” We all laughed at the thought. It was kind of funny, so close and now it looked like rain.
The hill was getting steeper and the rain was starting to fall. Just ahead of us was a covered area and it looked like some pilgrims were standing under it. Cale took off, walking at a very fast pace. We all started walking faster because we needed cover as well.
God is good, He gave us shelter just when we needed it.
The rain started to get harder, we were 8 km from Leon. Should we wait it out a little or walk in the rain? It was up to Cale; he was the one that would get wet. We decided to let it lighten up. The little area had benches, so we sat and waited for a little bit.
The last 8 km
The rain started to lighten up, so we decided to get walking. We wanted to get to town early so we could relax even longer. It was only 10 am, we should be there by noon.
The climb was long. It wasn’t steep at this time but just long. The ground was wet and puddles were forming. The path was still dirt but soon we would be on the pavement and entering the big city of Leon.
The pavement arrived and we were now on the outskirts of Leon. The worst part of the big cities is you feel like you have arrived but you still have a ways to go.
This was the scary part of Leon, busy city streets. They had a blue bridge which took us over the highway but we still had to cross some streets. We were weaving our way through the industrial side of Leon. Not too pretty but paying attention was very important.
At one point we were walking along a narrow street up a very steep hill. The mom in me came out, “Minh, car, move over!” “Car!” “Hey guys be careful on this curve, let’s move to the other side of the road so we can see”
The Camino finally took us off the road and down a path into Leon. You could see Leon and it was beautiful! But the hill was another story.
The view of Leon
As we started down the hill, the excitement was rising. But first, we had to make it down this slippery muddy hill. We were slipping and sliding everywhere. Slowly and carefully was my motto. We needed to arrive healthy and unhurt.
Phew! We all made it and no one fell on their booty. Now, where is the Camino marker, awe there it is!
All you could hear was the sound of stomping feet as soon as we stepped on the pavement. Our shoes were heavy and the mud was being flung from the them.
At this point, the spirits were very high. So happy to arrive in Leon. No one cared about the distance to the Albergue. Just happy to be here. And it was only, 11:50.
Just enjoying all the views of the city as we walked to our Hostel. I knew this city because of the pilgrimages which I had led, but the excitement was new. New people and new experiences.
I had a pilgrim ask me once, “don’t you get tired of doing the same walk over and over again?” I told him, “absolutely not! each pilgrimage is different, new experiences, new lessons and I love meeting new people!” “I learn something on every pilgrimage”
Covent Garden Hostel, 5-bed room, 40 Euros for 2 nights
Our hostel was so cute. We loved it. Arriving earlier than check-in, so we changed our shoes, left our bags, went to get lunch, and walk around for a little bit.
And look who we ran into. As we were taking the pictures above, I heard my name. Someone was yelling my name and then I saw her, straight across the square. She came running with her arms wide open.
We also found out that there was a festival happening in town. Food trucks were everywhere. So cool!
We added another guest to our room. Sean! He needed a place to sleep, he couldn’t find a bed. Not only was it a Friday, but there was a festival in town. We were able to add another mattress to the floor and Sean stayed with us as well. So now, we had 6 people in a 4-bed room. The beauty in this is no one cared. Always wanting to help a fellow pilgrim.
Sean said he would cook us dinner tomorrow night, we said, “OK, we weren’t going to argue!” And just look how cut this Hostel is.
Some more good news! We had been talking with Tim and Rodney over the past couple of days through social media. They told us that they would be in Leon today as well. Their pilgrimage had a little more pain in it than ours. Blisters, blisters, and blisters. They had to bus a few days to let their feet heal a little so they caught up to us. Still, every step was painful for Rodney and Tomce! I know they hated that they had to miss a few walking days, but I was so happy we were together again!
We each did our own thing for awhile. Some napped, some explored. I went to Mass.
Dinner at the food trucks and time for a fun evening. We met up with Tim, Rodney, Tomce, and Daniel. It was so good seeing them! We hadn’t seen them since Pamplona, 17 days ago!
It was a good night. No curfew (most Albergues have lights out at 10 and doors lock also) and we didn’t have to wake up early.
It was a great night out. I didn’t last as long as the youngsters but I didn’t even hear them as they crawled into bed.
Friday, June 1st, 18 km … 11 miles
Today was a short day. Spirits were high because we are walking into Leon and we have a rest day.
We are tired and needed this rest day.
Lots of conversation and laughter along the trail. My body feels good, nothing like yesterday.
Once in Leon, we met up with Tim, Rodney, Tomce, and Daniel. We had a fun night out.
Festival is happening, food trucks, good food and lots happening. Went to Mass.
Feeling amazing! God is good! Thank you, Jesus, for everything!