To Leon!

Well, I walked out of the woods and into a major city for the fourth time in my life this morning (and fourth time this month). The concept of a city edge still trips me out since I hail from a city that seems to have no edge. Yes, Seattle has city limits (I grew up two blocks from one part of it), but you can’t really tell where it begins or ends — it just sort of stretches into the surrounding cities, like LA.

Leon, just like Pamplona, Logroño, and Burgos, has a definite and distinct edge. Here it is:

I’m getting ahead of myself.

After struggling with the Wi-Fi this morning, I was out of my room and downstairs for the breakfast I was talked into purchasing last night by 7:30 am. Every single pilgrim from the communal room on the main floor was gone. Breakfast left for me was two slices of bread and coffee in a thermos. I’m done with these pilgrim breakfasts. I just left and decided I would get coffee on the way, buy some bananas from a store since I knew I would be walking city streets the whole way in.

Here’s an early morning view. The weather was perfect: low 50s and sprinkling. I felt like singing in the rain.

I finally reached civilization when the path merged into what could only be described as Leon’s auto row. I was hungry! Except the footbridge that was to bring me to the other side of the highway was closed and there were Camino detour signs pointing up a hill and away from the main road. I’m sure it’s just a short diversion.

Except it kept getting more remote. I found myself under the city radio towers.

Am I being punked? Is Ashton hiding in the bushes?

I could see Leon between the trees:

But I was waaay off from where my TrailSmart map said I was supposed to be (blue line is the trail, blue dot is me):

Yet, there were legitimate Camino markers and yellow arrows all along the way. Not panicking yet.

Instead of a city walk into town with stores, bars, and people, I found myself climbing down a dusty, steep dirt road. It was fine, just not what I was expecting. It all worked out in the end — especially since I found a church a few blocks inside the city where I could use the banos and get some OJ (and the very nice man tried to offer me a huge plate of eggs, which I felt terrible refusing).

A few scenes from the walk down the radio tower mountain and into town. The markers did bring me to the path on the map just fine:

I was distracted taking the picture of the KFC and actually missed the path marker. Luckily I figured it out within a few blocks, again thanks to the TrailSmart map. That teaches me for being cheeky about the KFC.

It was exciting spotting the medieval walls!

Once I was with in the medieval part of the city, the rain really started to come down. I ducked into a café intending to eat some real food and wait out the showers. I was struggling to order food that was not just a ham sandwich (“bocadillos”), but the tiny bit if Spanish I’ve picked up completely escaped me. A very nice young woman in her mid-20s I would guess offered to translate for me. I just wanted something for breakfast that wasn’t eggs and wasn’t a piece of toast.

Not only did this person order for me, she then BOUGHT MY BREAKFAST! I was stunned by her kindness but she just wished me a Buen Camino and sped out the door.

My hostel is on the other side of a medieval bridge that is part of the Camino.

I spent the rest of the day exploring. There are a LOT of people in this city and they are ready to PARTY for this 4-day weekend holiday.

Indoor covered market area full of butchers, seafood stalls, and produce:

I made an impulse purchase: bought another pair of shoes! It’s because I walked by a sports store and popped in to ask if they had a wide sizes. When she said yes, I told her I wanted to try on all of her trail shoes that were 42 wide. I had to give it a shot: I realized the new blisters were not just the heat but the fact that the Asics were normal width (Decathlon in Burgos didn’t carry wides).

I never anticipated having to shoe shop as much as I have. If the last pair were 50 times better, these are 100 times better:

Leon Cathedral — stunning windows that remind me of Chartres, but incredibly crowded inside. I tried to take pics over the tops of everyone’s heads so it looks like I had the place to myself. It was actually so crowded I didn’t stay too long.

I’ll write more about Leon tomorrow. REST DAY!

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