Monday, January 06, 2014

Camino 2013 - Day 27: León To San Martín del Camino

On my first Camino I'd taken a bus from León to Astorga, effectively skipping two stages.  This time no stages would be skipped.  Today I would walk the first skipped stage.  It was new and fresh for me.  These parts, good and bad, were the parts of my 2012 Camino that I liked the most.

Leaving León is not really that easy.  The way out of town is a bit confusing and, being a big city, it takes a while before you leave the urban environment behind.  Near the edge of the city you pass by a group of underground homes that remind you a lot of the Hobbit's homes in Lord of the Rings.  Most seemed to be closed off and empty.  Not sure what the story is.  Just past the group of homes is a bar ... the appropriately named Middle Earth Bar.

Hobbit homes outside León.
We stopped at the next town, Virgen del Camino, for some breakfast.  We found a nice little restaurant that catered to pilgrims.  It was here that we realized that, despite being in León for nearly two days, we hadn't gotten a stamp on our credential.  This is the third place we stopped where we didn't get a stamp.  We got a stamp at the restaurant instead.

We stopped at the church near the end of town before heading out of town.  It was a more modern church then I was used to on the Camino.  After the church the Camino splits.  The two paths sort of form a figure eight between Virgen del Camino and Astorga.  We took the path towards San Martín del Camino.

A pilgrim statue as you exit León.
This choice of paths would turn out to be the wrong one.  The other path goes through the country and is said to be scenic.  We'd picked this way because San Martín del Camino was closer to the halfway point than any town on the other path.  The path we took followed a busy road most of the way and was a bit uninspiring.  The fact it rained nearly a third of the day didn't help.  As I plodded along the way I thought that I hadn't missed much when I took the bus last time.

We reached San Martín del Camino and checked into the first albergue we found.   It wasn't the most modern or clean but it worked.  We did our laundry and napped a bit before we went out to explore the town.

We ended up in a bar/restaurant where we had one of the better lunches.  We had simple sandwiches but they tasted better than what we usually get.  There were people inside the bar playing cards and everyone seemed very comfortable here.  This restaurant was San Martín del Camino's saving grace I think.

We stopped at a grocery store and bought supplies for the next day before heading back to the albergue.  The sun finally came out and the late afternoon was quite delightful really.  We relaxed in the sun accompanied by a couple cats and the dog of a professional bike pilgrim (the dog, obviously infested with vermin of all types, road in a carrier on the back of the bike).  We met a few pilgrims here including a Swiss (Mc) who spoke a little English but was fluent in French and a couple from Bulgaria.  We would meet Mc on and off the rest of the way.  The Bulgarians would be seen only a few more days and then they would be gone.

We skipped dinner at the albergue and went back to the restaurant we'd been to earlier.  The dinner was awesome but for some reason I wasn't that  hungry and I left a lot of delicious food on the plate.  After talking to pilgrims who'd ate at the albergue, our decision to eat at the restaurant had been a good decision.  The albergue meal had been mediocre.

When I hadn't found liner socks in León, Gv had offered a pair of nylons she had brought along.  She had heard that nylons could be used as liner socks.  I'd reluctantly worn a pair of mid-calf nylons under my wool socks on this stage.  I have to say that my feet did feel a little bit better but I developed a small blister on top of a toe.  I think it was the seam of the nylons rubbing.  The next day I would try them inside out which was a little bit better.  They still weren't real liner socks though.

As I was getting ready for bed my nose started to clog up and my eyes got scratchy.  September/October were the bad months for my allergies and I'd hoped they wouldn't kick in in Spain. The allergy symptoms would only last a day or two and I suspect they were triggered by something in the albergue.  I took a benadryl which at least helped me sleep. 

Pictures can be found in my 2013 Camino de Santiago Google Photos album.

Total Distance on Day 27: 26 km ( 16.16 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 612 km (380.28 Miles)

Approximate Track of the day's hike*.
[Click on map for a larger version]

* Note: The camera lost GPS reception between Virgen del Camino and Villardangos del Paramo.  The track is only a rough approximation.

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