Day 16: Reliegos – León: 15 miles
Sunday, September 25, 2016: Departed: 7:00am, Arrived 12:30pm
Apart from a quick breakfast stop at Mansilla de las Mullas, today’s walk was uneventful and un-scenic as we made our way into Leon, the primary focus of our day. Like Pamplona and Burgos before, we had strategized to do a shorter day arriving into León around lunch time, in order to give us a good amount of a day to get to know the city. Upon arriving, we scouted out a few different hostales (preferring to treat ourselves again to a private room rather than the albergue dormitories) and settled on Rincon del Leon. Aptly named, for 39 euro, a small but immaculate room, located in a little alley of bars pretty much in the middle of everything.
After washing up, we got a nice lunch in the local plaza near our room, and then navigated around the different plazas and historic architecture of the city. Several of the museum sites were already closed for Sunday afternoon, so after strolling about, we decided to take advantage of our central room, and go back for naps. For late afternoon, I went to check out the interior of the impressive gothic Cathedral, while Kim journaled at a nearby café. As the night began to set in, we hopped around to the different plazas again, trying to catch them in the ideal light for photography, when the buildings are flood-lit, with a transitional indigo sky in the background. We got some drinks and tapas on one of the main bustling alleys, and then rather than hop around to more tapas bars, we went to a market and bought guacamole, chips, and cava (champagne) and made of a dinner of that as we sat on a bench in the quiet Cathedral square. We debated among ourselves which we preferred more: Burgos or Leon. We liked them both a lot: beautiful cities with great architecture and plazas and streets geared toward pedestrian friendly socializing. Not sure why, but I think we favor Burgos more, but they’re both great cities, and a welcome change of pace from some of the sleepy villages and albergues we’ve been staying at on the Camino. It also makes me wish Asheville had pedestrian only streets lined with mingling cafes and bars, even it’s not able to replicate the depth of history. We also appreciate the affordability. Eating and drinking among such splendor and history, you’d expect high prices, but we’re continually impressed how budget-friendly Spain is for food and drinks and lodging. Sometimes I think it’s more expensive to stay home than it is to travel.