Friday, January 03, 2014

Camino 2013 - Days 25 And 26: Reliegos To León And A Day Off

Day 25 - Walking to León

We left Reliegos with Js and it started to rain.  The walk to León would be a wet one.

We stopped in Mansillas de las Mulas for some chocolate Napoleons and orange juice.  I liked the orange juice in Spain and I drank gallons of it I think.  Nearly every bar/cafe had these machines where oranges were fed into the top and orange juice came out of the bottom.  You couldn't ask for fresher orange juice.  All the orange juice probably kept me from catching a cold despite being soaked through to the skin several times over.
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The Mansillas de las Mulas city walls.
Parts of the Camino had been improved since the last time.  New signs had been installed.  Distance markers were added in places.  Another great improvement was in the town of Puente Villarente.  The town is known for it's bridge.  Before the improvement a pilgrim had to walk over this bridge which had very narrow shoulders.  It was the one place last time where I was nervous as truck side mirrors whizzed by my head.  Now there is a pedestrian bridge that roughly parallels the bridge and then takes you under the bridge dumping you out on the other side of the busy highway.  Not only do you avoid the whizzing mirrors but you also avoid the sometimes harrowing attempt at crossing the busy road.  A welcome change that made this part of the Camino safer.

By the time we reached León we were all pretty pooped.  We staggered into the Cathedral square and found the tourism office.  Js asked about albergues.  We asked about cheap motels.  We were given a map and found a reasonably priced place not too far from the Cathedral area.  We said our goodbyes to Js and parted ways.  I'd hoped we would catch up with her somewhere but we never did.
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Elvis is still famous in León ... and selling purses.
That evening we stocked up on food and stayed in our rooms mostly.  I didn't feel like going out and just wanted to crash.  It had been a long twenty-five days of walking.  Many people we'd met took their first day of rest in Burgos (like I was forced to last Camino).  By pushing on to León we'd walked much longer non-stop than last time and more than most other pilgrims.  Fortunately we had four extra days to play with so taking a day would be no problem.   My body knew we were stopping for a day of rest and it was ready to start.  I could feel my body and brain shutting down throughout the afternoon and evening until I was in bed fast asleep.

Day 26 - A day of rest in León

I slept in this morning and it felt good.  I had a couple things to do today ... both foot related.

We went out and found some breakfast and walked through a street market that was going on in front of the Cathedral.

We went into the Cathedral and were surprised that you had to pay to get in now.  It wasn't much and it was understandable with the cost to maintain and restore the cathedral in these hard economic times.   I really like the Cathedral in León.  The stained glass is magnificent.  I walked around half listening to the electronic tour guide, taking pictures, and taking a video.


We left the cathedral and went out looking for sporting good stores.  I was looking for liner socks.  Some people swear that to prevent blisters you need to wear two pairs of socks.  First a pair of thin, tight fitting, nylon socks that wick the sweat away,  Second a thick, Merino wool sock.  The idea is that all the friction that causes blisters will occur between the liner sock and the outer wool sock.  Unfortunately after visiting three places I could not find any liner socks in my size.
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Beautiful stained glass.
The second thing on my to-do list was visit the pharmacy where I was looking for something similar to Bodyglide.  This is another thing people use to prevent blisters.  It is essentially a lubricant for your skin.  Some people use vaseline but I would imagine that would become a greasy mess.  The pharmacy didn't have bodyglide but they did have something similar called PEDI-Relax which described itself as a second skin.  Over the next few days I would try it out.
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Is that Batman in the upper left?!?  Who is picking his nose?
We spent the rest of the day walking around the city, shopping in the city market (I bought candy - half of which went in the trash - shouldn't have bought it in the first place), and resting in our rooms.  I saw a reminder of a past vacation back home.  We ate out that night for dinner and ran into a few pilgrims we'd met along the way including the Japanese girl Ny who was being carried piggyback by a German guy we'd met back in Grañon.  Her visa was running out and her Camino was coming to an end.
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The Cathedral at dusk all lit up.
On the way back to the hotel you could see that the city was preparing for a medieval festival.  We would miss it by just three days.  We hadn't seen a fiesta since Ciraqui which was unfortunate and here we were, missing another one.  It looked like it would be a fun time.

I repacked my bag that night trying to organize it better - the last twenty-five days had turned it into a chaotic mess.  My bag was not very goods in the rain.  The pack I had last time stayed dry inside even in the rain.  My new pack ... not so much.  If my clothes hadn't been in a dry sack there really would have been a problem.  It was disappointing to take off you pack rain cover to find a damp pack.  One of the magnets I bought, made of cardboard, was wet and starting to separate.  I ended up moving more stuff inside the dry sack.

That night I had some trouble getting to sleep.  I was dreading tomorrow - It would not be easy to restart.  It would be new though since last time I'd skipped the next two days on a bus.  I finally was lulled to sleep by the sound of thunder and hard rain.

Pictures can be found in my Camino de Santiago 2013 Flickr set.

Total Distance on Day 25: 27 km ( 16.78 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 586 km (364.12 Miles)

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

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