Date: Sat 25th May
Distance: 58 km
Temperature: Morning Cold/Afternoon Warm
Left: Sahagún 8:45am
Arrived: León 3:00pm
Santiago de Composela: 317 km
Highlight: Seeing the sights of León
Whilst many of you will be sipping on your Sunday lattés as you check your emails and possibly catch up on this blog, we will be tucked up sound asleep (hopefully) in a comfy hotel in León recharging our batteries for the final cycling leg of our middle stage that will get us to Astorga for another rest day! (Hardly need a rest, but was thrown in for logistics of returning bikes and waiting on backpacks to reappear from their own trip from Burgos – crossing our fingers they do arrive!)
Well day 18 started in true pilgrim fashion after packing our panniers and saddling up our mechanical donkey’s we headed off hours later than most at 8:45am. Again, blessed with clear blue skies, but sub 7 deg registering on our donkey doodles (bike computers?).
We are absolutely enjoying the freedom on our mechanical donkeys as just like the true donkey, it takes the load off our backs, but with the advent of smooth road surfaces (many years after the Romans invented them). We can roll effortlessly when flat or going down hill with some effort required when faced with an uphill. One of us prefers to walk their mechanical donkey when faced with a hill cos their donkey doesn’t seem to like them.
The scenery didn’t disappoint with the snow capped mountains, always to the North as a dramatic backdrop to the rural fields. As always with the Camino, the final 10km or so into a City is a culture shock and we were surprised that even on our bikes we were still affected! Again, navigating is always difficult as the markers seem to only take you to the municipal Albergue, which in this case is not in the city centre. We had booked the night before into a hotel (Conde Luna) based on availability and its central location. Our reception was a little disappointing and we got the impression that Pilgrims were not that welcome to their establishment! Another pilgrim that came in shortly afterwards shared the same experience.
The old city of León is like all the Spanish cities along the Camino – Beautiful, but with its own unique personality. We both immediately liked this city once we had recovered from the cultural shock and settled into our accommodation for the evening.
Unfortunately the Cathedral closed at 7:00pm, just as we got to it, so will now need to re-jig our itinerary so we can visit it first thing in morning as it opens at 9:30am. Having said that, it will be Sunday, so who knows!
We enjoyed our evening meal at a very decent restaurant and watched the locals pour in around 9:30 just as the sun was setting! Being a Saturday evening made our experience of exploring the city even more enjoyable as there were so many locals out and about, which created a lively bustling atmosphere.