Mansilla de las Mulas to León, 18.1km
Sometimes the Camino looks majestic, sometimes lonely, and sometimes crowded.
Today’s walk was the latter with nothing to distinguish it from a walk through the suburban area of any city. Everything changed as I entered the old city in León at 11:30 this morning…this place was hopping! It was Friday and it was the beginning of the Fiesta de San Juan.
The hustle, bustle, and charm of old León gave me a second wind. Instead of finding a place to stay, I explored the city. It is beautiful and the paramount place is the Santa María de León Catedral. Stunning.
When I arrived at the Cathedral, there was a huge farmers market surrounding the church on two sides, a fine use of holy real estate!
After my explorations, I found a sidewalk café and enjoyed a Rioja and a Spanish-attempt-at-a-hamburger. I also enjoyed people watching – there was a perpetual stream of people moving up and down the street.
Locals, tourists, the party crowd in for La Noche de San Juan, and many pilgrims. The pilgrims were easy to pick out of the crowd.
The restaurant was also my Command Center for finding a bed for the night. The Command Center had strong wi-fi and plenty of tapas.
The convergence of pilgrimage, the weekend, and the Festival of Saint John made it difficult to find a bed for tonight. The first three albergues I tried near the cathedral were all full, same for the two hotels. Lots of people in León this weekend.
Undeterred (because there are always options), I kept looking. My diligence and patience were rewarded by a bed in a hostel a few blocks off the Camino. It turned out to be even better than just a place to lay my head; it was a cool, old building, my bed was in a room set up with only four bunks, I was the only guest in the room, and the room had large windows that opened and overlooked the Plaza Santo Domingo!
Since I arrived early, there was plenty of time to walk around the city. I think I explored León for at least 3 hours and covered every inch of the old city, it is a fantastic place!
After seeing all there was to see and having an early evening meal, I headed back to my room for the night.
The downside of being in this great room with a view is that it opened up on the Plaza Santo Domingo, which seemed like the epicenter of La Noche de San Juan Fiesta. There were people partying ALL.NIGHT.LONG in the plaza and around the area. It was lively for sure and I wouldn’t have been able to get to sleep without music and earbuds.
The reliable remedy for drowning out snoring pilgrims and all night fiestas.