Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Camino Day 1: Drizzle from León to Villar de Mazarife

After a good sleep, for both of us, we were out of the door of our albergue at 07h00.

(For the record, we stayed at a convent Santa Maria de Carbajalas and the rate is 6 Euro per person. The bunks are solid and the place is clean with hot showers.)

It is still dark here until after 8am, so we walked through the streets of León with the darkness broken by the yellow glow of street lamps.

We passed some spectacular old buildings as we made our way out of town. It took me a while to get my eye into spotting the yellow-painted arrows that mark the Camino route. If you're looking for them, they're obvious. If not, they're fairly inconspicuous.

There were two route options today . We say many of the pilgrims ahead of us choosing to take the traditional route which is now bordered by a main highway. We chose to take an alternative 'French' route.

It was a while before we saw anyone else but when we stopped for brunch - sitting in a bus shelter to keep out of the drizzle - we saw a few people come past. They were relieved to see us, thinking they were alone out there.

For the most part, today's route had few features. A couple of ups, a few downs and many flat sections with fields on either side. I love the golden blonde colour of the long grasses and harvested wheat fields, especially against the backdrop of a rain-heavy, dark sky.

I love looking at the old brick walls of older buildings and the little parks with drinking fountains and benches. We're also seeing lovely trees and delight in spotting veggie gardens.

We spent 7hrs on the road (with some stops) and covered 22km.

Tonight we're staying at a private hostel at the entrance to the town of Villarica de Mazarife - San Antonio Padua. I got to use a bit of Spanish with the owners and hope to get more practice in. Most of the pilgrims are not Spanish, so the common language is English.

The rate is 8 € for a bed. There are a bunch of study bunks with decent matresses and, my favourite, a unit with cubical 'cupboards' especially for boots. Showers, loos and basins are plentiful.

We've booked for their pilgrim meal at 19h00. Pilgrim meals are three course meals and include wine or water and dessert. This place has a vegetarian menu, which we enjoyed. Only €9.

The meal started with a simple leafy salad with a lovely mustard dressing. Then a bowl of delicious gazpacho. Then a tasty vegetarian paella and a dessert of chocolate drizzled pancake. Fuel for the road.

While mom had a nap, I walked into town to get some food for brunch tomorrow. I bought a fresh baguette, some cold meat slices, a can of olives and a beer for mom (an Amstel shandy € 0.65 - only € 2.53 in total. It is fun shopping where your total is under a unit of 10. We don't have space in our backpacks to stash supplies so we'll stop past small stores daily for fresh food.

Tomorrow we have a longer walk - 31.2km to a big town, Astorga. It looks to be a similar size to Parys.

Liz and Lisa start Camino Day 1 in León
Early morning streets of León
Dirt road between the towns of Oncina and Chozas de Abajo
Drinking fountain and benches in Chozas de Abajo
Dark skies on the way to Villar de Mazarife
Villar de Mazarife - scenes

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