Castille y Leon

Camino de Santiago - Day 24 Lovely Leon

I really liked Leon and almost immediately upon leaving knew I'd have to return someday.  It felt strange to me to look forward to a bigger city after the small towns of the Meseta and yet only have a few hours there to look around.  I had a conversation with a woman I walked with almost every day from Astorga on--Natalie from Denmark, about how hard it can be to turn off tourist mode in your brain and just accept pilgrimage mode.  In other words, it's in my nature to want to see everything I can--always on the look out for interesting little museums, wanting to see the historic buildings and wander the streets, reading up on the history or the famous foods of the area.  Instead, on this journey, you are always simply passing through. The physical path of the Camino is what you get to know so well and you have to learn to ease your grip on all these interesting places you pass through. 

Always on the look out for interesting signage - usually easy to spot on the approach into a big city like Leon. For me the walk into Leon didn't seem as drawn out as Burgos. Halfway through the Camino and the idea of needing solitude to think and be "present" is much less appealing than good company and conversation to pass the miles.

Always on the look out for interesting signage - usually easy to spot on the approach into a big city like Leon. For me the walk into Leon didn't seem as drawn out as Burgos. Halfway through the Camino and the idea of needing solitude to think and be "present" is much less appealing than good company and conversation to pass the miles.

Just the type of odd city scene I like to paint!

Just the type of odd city scene I like to paint!

On a Saturday in Leon it seems that there are dozens of weddings and almost as many festivals occurring.

On a Saturday in Leon it seems that there are dozens of weddings and almost as many festivals occurring.

Gaudi on Plaza S. Marcelo!

Gaudi on Plaza S. Marcelo!

Calle Ancha, Leon

Calle Ancha, Leon

What is happening?! A collision of two festivals results in an impromptu street waltz.

What is happening?! A collision of two festivals results in an impromptu street waltz.

The cathedral closed early and I was so sorry to have missed it, but now I have an extra reason to return to lovely Leon.

The cathedral closed early and I was so sorry to have missed it, but now I have an extra reason to return to lovely Leon.

The "wet district" is quiet right before tapas hour chimes.

The "wet district" is quiet right before tapas hour chimes.

The camino provides...because I visited S. Isidoro, I was provided with a very nice Scottish couple who I'd seen often and they invited me for tapas.  First, I spied on the pilgrim mass which was ending as I arrived.  Each place does it a little differently, but at the end of mass, the priest invites the pilgrims to stand or approach and offers a blessing. Here, he's also giving a history of the Church as well.  My favorite pilgrim's mass was in Estella, where the priest seemed to speak every pilgrim's language and had a holy card for each of us.

The camino provides...because I visited S. Isidoro, I was provided with a very nice Scottish couple who I'd seen often and they invited me for tapas.  First, I spied on the pilgrim mass which was ending as I arrived.  Each place does it a little differently, but at the end of mass, the priest invites the pilgrims to stand or approach and offers a blessing. Here, he's also giving a history of the Church as well.  My favorite pilgrim's mass was in Estella, where the priest seemed to speak every pilgrim's language and had a holy card for each of us.

As a kid, I used to pray for myself all the time: "Dear God, please give me magic powers." "Dear God, please help me pass my test. I promise I'll pay attention in Church from now on."  I've fallen out of the habit of praying altogether, but on the Camino pretty much every holy icon got an earful: "Please God, bless my feet. Please God, direct me to a pharmacy so I can get more Compeed. Please God, keep my foot from breaking. I don't have great insurance anymore and can't afford a podiatrist."  Happy to report God listened and my feet are on the mend!

As a kid, I used to pray for myself all the time: "Dear God, please give me magic powers." "Dear God, please help me pass my test. I promise I'll pay attention in Church from now on."  I've fallen out of the habit of praying altogether, but on the Camino pretty much every holy icon got an earful: "Please God, bless my feet. Please God, direct me to a pharmacy so I can get more Compeed. Please God, keep my foot from breaking. I don't have great insurance anymore and can't afford a podiatrist."  Happy to report God listened and my feet are on the mend!

always onward!

always onward!

Camino Thoughts plus Days 20 - 23 - Villamentero De Campos to Calzadilla de la Cueza to Sahagun to Reliegos

Well, my app didn't end up working so well and, as it happened, I got more wrapped up in the walk as it went on, which is a good thing. During the second half of the walk , things began to click for me, despite the fact that my body was ready to reach its destination and began to voice big, loud complaints via my right foot and ankle.  All my wretched limbs held together though and I hobbled into Santiago with friends on October 7 after 35 days of walking.  I'm home now and just beginning to wrap my head around the experience.  Did I dream the whole thing? 

I'm sprucing up my sketchbook which I will post, along with some more thoughts on the Camino and some practical things I learned.  Despite years of researching this trip, there were still things I hadn't thought out that would've helped me before I left. It just goes to show that each person's Camino is a different animal and despite that, we all have a shared journey.  It was a horrible and wonderful trip and that's the only way I can think to describe it.  Just like a month and a half of real life, there are good and bad and many in between days.  I have to imagine that each is valuable, even if I can't see it yet.

This week, though, I will continue to share some images from the 2nd half of The Way.

Carrion de los Condes, passing through the main square before a very long walk through the Meseta

Carrion de los Condes, passing through the main square before a very long walk through the Meseta

Plenty of food and water...16 k until my stopping point.

Plenty of food and water...16 k until my stopping point.

The town of Calzadilla de la Cueza and the sign for its municipal albergue seemed to rise from the grass like an oasis. It's a two albergue town and not much else, and in my haste to take off my shoes I managed to pick the albergue WITHOUT the pool.   Plenty of time to think here...this cafe and the view of pilgrims coming over the hill is the only thing to do in this town.

The town of Calzadilla de la Cueza and the sign for its municipal albergue seemed to rise from the grass like an oasis. It's a two albergue town and not much else, and in my haste to take off my shoes I managed to pick the albergue WITHOUT the pool. 

Plenty of time to think here...this cafe and the view of pilgrims coming over the hill is the only thing to do in this town.

A perfect color palette.

A perfect color palette.

I love these little Spanish buildings. I want to live in every single one.

I love these little Spanish buildings. I want to live in every single one.

Not Hobbit Houses!, a sign helpfully explained to passing pilgrims.  These little cave cottages are for storing wine.

Not Hobbit Houses!, a sign helpfully explained to passing pilgrims.  These little cave cottages are for storing wine.

I know it looks cute but its cat talons are sharpened and waiting to rip food from pilgrim hands.  This cat ferociously guards Elvis Bar, which is the epicenter of tiny Reliegos, as well as acting as a graffiti-ed notice board for those passing through.

I know it looks cute but its cat talons are sharpened and waiting to rip food from pilgrim hands.  This cat ferociously guards Elvis Bar, which is the epicenter of tiny Reliegos, as well as acting as a graffiti-ed notice board for those passing through.