El Camino Frances

The Traditional Route from France

Western Meseta

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Mansilla de las Mulas to León

31 May 1993 and 18 June 2002

This is a very short stage of less than 20km which enables walkers to get established in León and then spend some time exploring the city. The way mainly follows the N601, sometimes along the hard shoulder and sometimes along dirt tracks a little way from the road. There is no avoiding the long curved bridge at Puente de Villarente which can be dangerous in heavy traffic.

1993. Our gang stuck together for the morning’s walk to lend support to our two injured members, Cruz and Tomas. Tomas has friends in León and had arranged to send his rucksack on by car so that he could keep up with us. Not all of us wanted to go to the refugio which was then on the outskirts of the city so we arranged a meeting place then split up to find accommodation.

León

When we reconvened we had an excellent meal with friendly service in the restaurant Dos de Mayo in Calle la Rua. This was such a change from the rip off and miserable service we had suffered in Burgos. I was also introduced to the practice of finishing a meal with café con orujo (aguardiente) which habit persisted for many more Camino meals.

Tomas knows the city well and he gave us a gentle guided tour, including the magnificent cathedral, to finish off the afternoon.

2002. The heat wave was ending but we still set off before 6am. Coffee and cakes for breakfast at 7am in Puente de Villarente then into León by 9.30. After obtaining stamps for our credenciales in the cathedral we established ourselves with other pilgrims outside the nearest bar to wait for Jann to turn up.

León

There was a festival of music and dance taking place which we wanted to see but the refugio, in a convent, had a curfew of 9.30pm so, after a little sightseeing, we tested Jann’s ankle with a 7km walk through mainly industrial suburbs to Virgen del Camino where we took a large room in the Hotel Plaza.

The hotel owner then directed us to a bus stop from where we could get a bus back to the city. We spent most of the evening seated outside a restaurant in Calle Ancha, eating drinking and watching the various performances in the street. A late bus got us back to our hotel for a last drink before turning in for the night. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ