Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon (Camino de Santiago)

May 26 The path to Leon was only 11.5 miles and primarily along a busy highway. The only highlight of the walking was the stands of cottonwood trees that had gone to seed, filling the air with white fluffs. I noticed a small yard that looked as if it had recently snowed the seed covered the ground so thick. It only took a few hours to reach Leon and as the municipal alberque was still closed for repairs we were able to find one run by the Benedictines (Santa Maria de las Carbajalas). It had three floors of large open rooms with rows and rows of bunk beds. Another night of communal sleeping which for me is getting very tiring. We had time to explore the city and since it was Saturday and market day we wandered between the vendor stalls of fruits, vegetables, flowers, antiques and household items. The massive cathedral was open and for 5 euro experienced the interior of one of the most beautiful churches in Spain. After exiting I stopped for a quick check in at the alberque and then wandered out alone. I had passed a small wine shop earlier so I headed back and ordered a Rose wine, chilled and delicious. Mike, Tim and Greg eventually found me and I bought them one as well. Mike stayed on and we sampled several local reds recommended by the woman working behind the bar. We tasted some wonderful wines, some of the best so far. She spoke English and provided information on a couple of other wine shops in two other towns that we will eventually pass through in the coming weeks. Mike and I found a restaurant and pulled out the credit cards for a delicious meal, no pilgrims menu tonight, yeah! After dinner we sat in the cathedral’s main square, sipped wine with new friends and watched the numerous finely dressed wedding parties line up one after another to enter the cathedral for their wedding services. I decided that at some point I would like to return to Leon. Journal: “The interior of the Leon Cathedral was massive and dark and quite overwhelming in scale. The soaring heights and rows of stained glass filled me with emotions; sadness, inspiration, joy and reverence. I stood in the quiet dim light gazing upwards at the blue, red and green stained glass amazed. I found a wooden pew and sat for quite some time, not thinking but just feeling.”