Well here I am, sitting in a hotel room and I’ve come to the end of my camino. Logrono to Leon, 12 days long. I knew this day would come but I’ve not thought about it. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been taking each day as it comes and sticking to the same routine. I think I’ll be awake at 5am every day for the next while until I re-adjust. The thought of using a washing machine to clean my clothes will be considered a luxury and I won’t need a sleeping bag for a while just yet.
But no matter how little I lived on over the last while and how basic my life has been, I enjoyed it. A small backpack, boots and a fit body were all I needed and it is so easy for anyone to do the same. I saw people of all ages, the retired, elderly, students and middle aged people like myself take part. It’s not rocket science and all you need is a few weeks to spare.
Today, we started from the Albergue at Mansilla and we decided to take it easy. We left the albergue at close to 7am today and I don’t think I’ve walked as slow since I started. The 5 of us talked about anything and everything while reminding each other that today is a slow day should we rush off. I’ve done that plenty of times before. I took plenty of pictures; more than I’ve taken in the last week. It wasn’t long before we crested a large hill and saw the whole of Leon from a height. It’s a beautiful city and you can see it’s cathedral clearly on the right hand side.
The walk into Leon isn’t attractive at all and a few folks take the bus in from the outskirts. But I wasn’t going to do that. Even though I was finishing today, I wanted to get to the cathedral. Seeing it from afar made me want to get their sooner.
We arrived eventually after another high climb and ran to a donut shop..it was like sugar to a bee. A donut and one smoothie please. Nice! After that I walked with the guys to their Albergue for the night, the Benedictine monastery. I don’t think this compares with the last few albergues.
I walk to my own pension that I have pre booked before I left Dublin. It made sense to do so as the Albergue needs people to leave at 8am at the earliest. My bus is at 3pm tomorrow. A great sense of sadness came over me at that stage. There was no quick shower, washing clothes, and getting to talk to other pilgrims about their day. I sat in my room and wished I had arranged two or three more days walking. I sat there for 10 minutes at least and thought about the last 2 weeks and the people I have met. Sigh.
I needed to visit the cathedral to get some sort of completion. I paid the fee and walked around the monument taking in its stained glass windows, history and detailed craftwork. I also caught an impromptu performance by an American choir. The sound filled the cathedral. I finished up here and walked around the city before meeting Franco, Michel, Tanya and Carlos. Carlos has very limited English but I understood him fine with the Spanish I knew. He wished me a Buen Camino back home in Ireland before walking back to the albergue. The remainder took in the sights and had a MacDonald’s also. Wow that tasted good. We decided to meet up later on that evening for some food and drinks.
Later on, we found a great restaurant just beside the Cathedral which still served Menu del Peregrinos. It was getting close to 7pm at this stage and the Spanish people were coming out to eat so most restaurants there tend to finish serving pilgrims around 7pm. The price was €15 for a three course meal which is kind of steep for us but we sat down regardless. I really enjoyed this dinner. We talked about the last two week and I told them what parts to stay in after Leon. I was incredibly jealous of them heading off but tried not to show it. I gave them a keyring that I bought in Santiago last year and wanted them to place it on the Cruz de Ferro. I will buy another and keep it until next year hoping to do the same.
Until next year.