It was just as cold in the morning, and it appeared that no heat came on at all during the night. This was certainly the worst of the hotels we had stayed at thus far. Breakfast was actually not too bad, but served by the same grumpy, smelly woman. I told Greg that I had decided to not go to the health clinic after all, since I was certain that they might tell me I had to stay off my feet for a couple of days. So, after we ate and set our bags out, we took off and found a mercado that had great food and snacks for the day. We headed northwest towards the bus station and soon found that we had gone several blocks too far, so we had to circle back and take a left behind a large gas station and there was the Estacion de Autobuses. Just as we arrived a bus was taking off, and the driver waited for us to get on. Sitting on the bus, I wondered why we had bothered to get any food because within twenty minutes we were arriving at the bus station in Leon.
Exiting the station in Leon, we headed north along the rio Bernesga and crossed at the bridge leading to Av. Ordono and into the bustling downtown of the city.
It was a beautiful day and at first sight Leon appeared to be a nice city with perhaps the greatest degree of modernity we had seen since Burgos. The stores were full of shoppers on this Saturday morning as we headed in the general vicinity of our hotel. I needed some new laces for my boots since I had tied a knot in one of them and was unable to get the tight fit I wanted. We found an outfitting store just a few blocks down the street and Greg also decided he would use this opportunity to get a new hat to replace the one he had lost several days ago. I got some perfect laces and Greg found the hat he wanted after trying on several of them. The store clerk was also very helpful in giving us directions to our hotel, and he drew us a little map to help us along the way. Within a few minutes we found the Plaza Isidoro and our magnificent hotel nestled in this beautiful, active monastery.
Our room was not yet ready, so we left our packs there and walked around the area for an hour or so and had some lunch at Hotel Boccalino on the opposite side of the plaza behind our hotel. Truly delicious food.
After the leisurely meal, we strolled back to the hotel and sat in the lobby for a while talking with a bevy of American students from the University of North Carolina who were on a tour that consisted of biking and hiking on parts of the Camino as well as taking some history classes with the professors who were also tour guides.
Before long, our room was ready and we settled in for what we hoped would be an enjoyable couple of days in this great city. The desk clerk told us that we could leave our laundry at the front desk and they would send it out to be returned the following day. We took care of that and then decided to head out for some sightseeing at the north end of town. I wanted to make sure I saw the Parador Hotel which is where everyone stayed in the movie “The Way”. Within a few minutes walk, we found the Parador, as well as the Iglesia San Marcos, its attached Cloisters and museum, and the statue of the Weary Pilgrim. Plenty of opportunities for picture taking in this beautiful location, and I took full advantage of it.
Once again, I found that the WiFi only worked in the lobby area, so I found a comfortable chair there and set about contacting everyone at home and posting pictures of the day’s activities. I also emailed Sandy and Cynthia to see if they were going to be in town tomorrow. The desk clerk told me that dinner at the hotel was at 9:00 pm but that it was reservation only and the serving was already fully booked. That was OK with me since I knew that we would be hungry way before that. I then went back up into the room and found Greg sound asleep. This seemed like a good idea to me and I was soon in dreamland on my bed. Around six o’clock we woke up and got ready to go out to find a place to eat. Realizing that the same late-night hours for eating were once again prevalent as they had been in Pamplona and Burgos, we decided to go back to Boccalino. We headed back there across the plaza and found a table near the window so we could watch the activity of the street. After we got our food, the two German guys came in, and when they saw us it was a great reunion. They sat at their own table however, which they always did, respecting our privacy perhaps, or maybe because we had already started eating. One of them spoke fairly good English. In Calzadilla, I had informed him that I had lived in Heidelberg for 18 months a long time ago when he was just a little boy. He got a real kick out of this and started singing, “I left my heart in Heidelberg” (Ich hab mein herz in Heidelberg verloren…”) His name for me now was Heidelberg. His companion, just saluted, smiled and drank his beer. After dinner, it was back to the hotel and to bed. What a pair of deadbeats we were! Neither of us had slept well in that cold room in Mansilla, so we were anxious to get a comfortable night’s sleep.