Camino Day 25: León (Rest day 4)

Ahhh… Such a nice relaxing morning. I woke up before 6am and after mucking around for a while, I went back to sleep until after 7am. Yes, sheer luxury.

Breakfast, working the internet and doing a bit of repacking and before you know it, time was 9.30am. Time to move the sorry backside…

The below town verification is just outside my hostel. A selfie and I will remember the town where I was too. León.

Even at 9.30am it was fricking cold out there in León. I was definitely underdressed with my hiking shirt and fleece. A third layer and gloves would not have gone astray.

Plaza Mayor was quiet in the morning but preparations were underway for some festival. The building here is the original 17th century barque town hall.

I zigged and zagged a bit (no, not yet drunk) and shot some photos of the limited remains of the old León stone wall.

Interesting enough, the name León is not derived from “lion”. Although you may think so given the depictions of lions everywhere.

No, León comes from “legion” as it used to be a Roman military garrison and base for its VIP legion. At least, that is the explanation from my guidebook.

My “Credential de Peregrino” booklet is running out of space for sillos (stamps). I decided to pick up a second booklet.

You need at least 2 stamps per day in your booklet for the last 100km to Santiago de Compostela. Otherwise you will not get the “Compostela” certificate from the Pilgrim Office there. And there is not enough space in my first booklet to accommodate that and other stamps along the way.

The place to get another booklet is here, the local León monastery. Santa Maria de Carvajal.

I requested a new booklet from an old nun there. It turned into an odd conversation where she wanted to know where I stayed. At least I think that what was she asked. It seemed that staying elsewhere in León other than the monastery was not good enough for her.

After a while, the nun did disappear deep down there somewhere below the monastery. She returned with…

… an identical “Credential del Peregrino” booklet to the one I had. (These booklets come in several different versions). 3 Euros.

I am ready for more stamps…

The area around the Santa Maria de Carvajal monastery is an oasis in the city. There is a square just opposite the monastery called Plaza Grano. With rocks only on the ground for the whole square.

Tranquil and no traffic apart from some delivery and parked cars.

Next stop was the one and only place in León that was a “can not miss” for me. The San Marcos Parador at Plaza San Marcos.

The parador is so huge that I had problems getting the whole fasade of it into one single photo frame.

The centre of San Marcos Parador in León.

I sat down next to a fellow pilgrim who sat on the square and checked it all out. “What’s doing, buddy?”

I left my pilgrim buddy after a while as he was still admiring the lot.

I stepped into San Marcos Parador to check out the inside. Standing on the inside looking out.

San Marcos Parador used to be the old “western headquarters of the military order of Saint James”. This is according to my guidebook.

These days, San Marcos Parador is an upmarket 5 stars hotel. A few of my fellow pilgrims treated themselves to a night here.

Inside the lobby looking towards the main entrance.

The commodor or dining hall.

One assumes that this is one of the parador’s breakout areas. Where conference delegates can enjoy a drink or two and relaxation.

Of course, all these old elegant buildings must have a courtyard. It is not a bad spot for a drink or three.

Turning around from the previous photo.

The building housing San Marco Parador also houses Museo San Marcos. Presumably the latter was once a place of worship for that military order of Saint James.

The signs were there of dignitaries buried inside and under the floor.

It looked like you could still make a confession here. Somebody was sitting inside that confession booth where the lights are. Waiting for business?

I didn’t have anything to confess today so I gave a confession the miss.

Afterwards, I spent a bit of time outside San Marco Parador on Plaza San Macro.

I sat on a bench in the shade and nibbled on nuts and a banana, reflecting on the whole thing. The parador was impressive. I am glad that I checked it out. Of course, I am far too tightfisted to spend money for a night there. Besides, it just doesn’t seem to align with the Camino spirit. Beautiful building though.

The promenade along the river that I walked yesterday starts (or finishes) at Plaza San Macro. So I decided to stroll it again. A bit of flaneuring yet again.

If you bring your dog to the promenade, check the sign for how to behave.

The 9th of October was actually today’s date. Do they somehow change the grassed date every day? Interesting.

Of course, I had to check out the only Gaudi building in León. The building is called Casa Botines and looks like this.

The entrance to Casa Botines and a sign outside both verify Antoni Gaudi as its architect.

Lunchtime and “menú del día” beckons again. I strolled back to Plaza Grano opposite the monastery for lunch. I found a place and sat underneath the right white umbrella outside the restaurant below.

Ensalada mixta for primero once again. Yes I know that most comes from cans but at least I get some veggies into my system. The meal included half a litre of wine…

…which meant siesta afterwards. If you are drink that much wine in the middle of the day all the time, you need siestas. The Spaniards are on to something.

That night, I had dinner with Margha and Win. We were due to meet outside their León hostel at 7pm but they were late so I had a beer across the road while waiting. Man and his beer…

The girls had received a tip for a tapas bar to go to from a local so that’s where we went. This was the place. Busy alright.

The tapas bar’s inside ceiling was somewhat low. Of course I hit my head. But only once.

Eat and drink turned out to be dirt cheap as tapas were free as long as you ordered drinks.

We ordered 2 rounds of drinks; 4 vino tinto and 2 Baileys which was Win’s preferred alcohol choice. All in all it cost 10.60€ including tapas.

This was the first tapas plate for sharing:

The second tapas plate came as one plate per person. A lot of finger food for free. Albeit, not the healthiest food in the universe though…

The week long León festival was in full swing as we left the tapas bar, celebrating the local Saint. Every region has a local Saint and you celebrate that local Saint one week every year. That was what I heard. Anything for a party.

There was a book sale or book exchange as part of the festivities.

Let’s finish with a final photo of León Cathedral lit up at night as I arrive back at Hostel Albany around 9.30pm.

I have planned for 32km of walking for tomorrow. I feel that I need to get some mileage behind me as rain is then forecast for the following two days. Time to get cracking again.

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