Camino Day 14 - Mon 10/6/02:

45 km today
470.5 total
Breakfast of Champions

Another cracker of a day. Cándido and I left around 8 after a quick coffee, making a decent contribution to the refugio's donations box on the way out. Outside, it was very foggy indeed. Got up a good pace, and had breakfast 20km further on in the small bar in the hamlet of Reliegos at 11AM. Breakfast was a bottle of wine (between us, not each!! What kind of people do you think we are??!!), a bocadillo, followed up by a café solo con arrouco -- arrouco being some kind of hooch. Needless to say, we left in good spirits. Ahem.

Blurred. I wonder why?

Mansilla de la Mulas (38K)

Siglo XII town walls

Mansilla de la Mulas (67K)

Impressive Cathedral

León (56K)

Cathedral again

León (40K)

Around noon, the fog burned off and it started to get hot. Very hot. I got sunburned again! Around 2:30pm we decided we could do with a bite to eat so we left the "official" route into León (at this point, a track which ran parallel to the very busy main road) and ended up walking on the main road for a couple of kilometres until we found a restaurant. A cold beer was never more welcome! A decent meal of paella and salmon was followed by a not-so-decent 8km walk on the main road into León.

At this point, Cándido and I parted company: he was going further in an attempt to finish on Sunday, which would mean doing 50-60kms per day until then. In spite of my abysmal Spanish, we were able to communicate well enough. I hope he made it OK. I got his address and will send him a postcard from Cork.

Walked to very impressive cathedral, found tourist office, and sat down outside next to an elderly Belgian pilgrim named Jean-Philippe, who had walked from Brussels! While we were chatting, a French guy appeared and asked us if we needed somewhere to sleep. He and his wife turned out to be fellow-pilgrims, and had already found accomodation in a pensión above a nearby restaurant. J.P. and I ended up sharing a room there, not bad for E12. Basic, but very central.

Introduced J.P. to the Hiker's Friend -- he was complaining of aches and pains, and was very impressed by the Voltarén Emulgel I gave him, so much so he nipped out to a farmacia to buy some.

Had dinner with these Francophones and some friends of theirs later, and quickly remembered why I am ambivalent about the French: they spent the dinner compaining about the Spanish food, the bread ("Pah -- it tastes of nothing!"), the wine, the poor quality of albergues and even hotels. The poor waiter was given a torrid time. There had been an incident earlier in their Camino where some guy had cooked them an omelette but had apparently not cleaned the pan first, it having been used just previously to fry mushrooms. This "omelette incident" clearly preyed on their minds, at least judging by the number of times they referred to it...

Ah well. And so to bed. Slept relatively well in spite of J.P. being a snorer.