October 5: I am mindful today of my extended family which is gathered in Edmonton for a celebration of the life my aunt, Marion Ferry. She was a lovely person, in her 90’s, who loved well and was my mother’s best friend. I wish I could be there but I am remembering her with gratitude.
The stars seem aligned again. Julie, Astaria and I all slept in different villages last night. I had decided to take the bus to León today and spend two nights here for a rest and some sightseeing in this beautiful city. When I boarded the bus at 9:20 am, as I suspected, Julie was already on it. At the next stop Astaria unexpectedly got on so we had a joyful reunion. She is carrying on tomorrow but Julie and I will stay an extra night in León.
My cough is worse today but I’m in a room with six other people so I will be highly motivated to not cough in the night. I found an open farmacia so I’m now stocked up with drugs. I’m in a beautiful new albergue in the old city, close to the cathedral. The quality of welcome is excellent. It’s amazing how much of a difference that makes. Last night I was in a perfectly acceptable facility, but the young man who checked me in seemed to be barking at me. Finally, as he moved to take me to my room, he told me I was welcome. But I sure didn’t feel welcome and was very reluctant to ask him any questions. I was in a private room and never saw another soul in that albergue. I was quite lonely. I’m now used to sleeping with a bunch of strangers each night and have come like it. People who only stay in hotels or pensions do miss out on a significant part of the experience, though they may experience many other gifts of the Camino.
As soon as we got to León today we went to this albergue, the Albergue Muralla Leonesa which was recommended by the lady at the turismo informacion. It was too early to check in but the delightful hostess took our reservation and let us leave our packs.
So we went for a café con leche and a wonderful pastry on the square and then visited the magnificent León Cathdral de Santa Maria. It is built in a much more unified early gothic style than most cathedrals, which had pieces in different styles added to them over the centuries. The stained glass may be the finest in Europe. We also learned about a major, risky restoration in the 19th century when the whole structure threatened to collapse. An amazing exercise in precise mathematics and physics. No errors allowed.
The remainder of our day was spent writing, napping, doing laundry (yeah!), window shopping (since today is a holiday and the shops were closed), and eating an excellent salad and pizza (with Guinness) at a restaurant that turned out to be famous for it’s pizza. This week is a major festival so we expect lots of people and activity.
Bedtime approaches. I must doctor myself and try to curb this cough. Tomorrow a rest day.