Day 20 – Mansilla de las Mulas to Valverde de la Virgen, 19.72 miles
Though this post is named after the beautiful city and most of the pictures are of León, I merely passed through today. I had a good visit here in 2017, seeing everything of interest. Plus, I needed to start putting in some long days, there were some post-Santiago goals that would require several 30+ kilometer days.
The downside of this ambition was that I would be leaving my Camino family behind, most were taking a rest day or a late-start day tomorrow. We shared a meal in the shadow the cathedral, said our goodbyes, and I blazed on towards Valverde de la Virgen, another 11 kilometers west.
That lonely walk out of Leon was a grind – through the old town, through the newer parts, through the suburbs, through the industrial areas, and then through more suburbs. And it is all gradually uphill. There was lots of hustle and bustle on the way out, but I saw only one other pilgrim. This is the norm for any walk after 2:00 pm, as most pilgrims are settled into the end of their day.
I arrived in Valverde de la Virgen at 5:00 pm and stayed at an albergue that was filled with French people. Nothing against the French, but I comprehend about 5 words of their language. Also, this group spoke no English, so it was shaping up to be a quiet evening for me. A little later, a mother-daughter-dog combo from Bilbao came in. Of course, they both spoke Spanish, and the daughter spoke English. The dog didn’t speak either, just an occasional bark. We had a nice visit at the pilgrim dinner, the Basques and I at one end of the table and the French at the other end.
Side note – I would pay top dollar for an iron cutout of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.