Day 21 - Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon

Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
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22
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Trip End Oct 07, 2012


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Flag of Spain  , Castile-León,
Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kms walked today: 18kms
Kms walked in total: 472.5 kms
Kms left to Santiago: 317.5 kms
Pains: left leg still not working as it should, but it has improved and walking is OK - just a slight limp.
Blisters: none.

Given I had a hotel booked in Leon and that the distance from Mansilla de las Mulas is only 18 kilometres, I allowed all the others to start the rat race while I slowly packed the rucksack and enjoyed a relaxed breakfast at the albergue.

The walk into Leon could easily be skipped as its a boring, dry path, next to the main road. The only good point was seeing Leon from about 3 kilometres away and knowing that the rest day was very close.
It was a satisfying to arrive early to the city as it gave me a full day to rest and recover from muscle tiredness. I checked into the hotel and was frankly surprised by the quality for such an acceptable price.

The hotel was a perfect choice for a rest day, not only is it clean, with a large bed, great shower and air conditioning, but its also next to the Leon Cathedral which is where I will spend most of the time. Additionally it has a Spa and massages are available.
I did a good washing procedure of every single bit of dirty clothes using the boiling water available. That should last me another good week when I can do a final wash (or throw away what doesn't survive).

By noon I was in my swimming trunks and jumping around the spa pool. The hotel has an offer for hotel clients of spa plus 25 minute leg or back massage for 25 euros. I went for it, and not a second too early as my left leg required some loving.

The spa has all the usual bubble machines, a turkish and dry sauna, and all sorts of showers with changing temperatures. I was the only person using all the facilities.
After a good long hour using the spa, I had a fantastic leg massage. It was painful but the muscles immediately appreciated the movements.

With a new body installed I walked to one of the restaurants around the Cathedral and indulged in a great menu: entremeses, ensalada campera, lacon con queso y patatas, arroz con leche, bread, wine (one bottle), gaseosa revoltosa (one bottle) and coffee...all 10 euros!

With all that in my stomach, and the temperature at 25 degrees celsius, I had no alternative but to move back into the air conditioned room to read and sleep a well deserved siesta. I didn't wake up until 8pm!
I saw that the streets were already busy with the locals having tapas and beers. My room window had views to the cathedral and a few terraces. Knowing that I could have a light dinner well until midnight I decided to go down to the spa again to wake up the body a bit further.

The experience was great but totally different to the morning as there was a group of six middle aged women in the pool. You would have thought they were in a rock concert the way they were talking - it was a shouting contest. I did notice none of them had wet their hair, so I diligently plunged bomb style into the pool (I'm surprised any water was left inside). I then switched on the power shower and placed myself under which made drops of water fly all over the place. I have no idea why the women all left after a coupled of minutes and I had the spa all to myself again.

A quick turkish sauna, a good shower and I was ready to go hunting for the tapa that I had been thinking about since Logrono..."Morcilla de leon" (same as the usual morcilla but without rice or skin. Its served in a pan with bread).

The main concentration of bars and restaurants is behind the cathedral in an area called "Barrio Humedo" (humid neighbourhood) which derives its name from all the drinking that tends to go on there.
Last time I was here it must of being around 2006 and it was an accidental visit. I was touring Asturias with food and drink expert "Blubi" when my car decided to break down about 20 kilometres away. We managed to make it chug along until the bus station of Leon where it died. It was winter time and dark so we had no option but to stay the night.

Blubi as a great tour leader has a natural instinct to find Irish pubs and places serving tapas. He won on both counts and after a few too many Guinness pints (to warm us up) we bumped into the Plaza de San Martin with its tapas and raciones bars. I couldn't remember the name of the place we went to, but I found it again today...its called Meson San Martin.

I ordered a mix salad, which turned out to be a bowl fit for four people, and my craved morcilla de leon. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was salivating when the brought the hot pan. I love morcilla, but this is a totÀlly different ball game - its the caviar of the black puddings!

The waitress asked me if it was all for myself, and with my lips covered in the brown sauce I grunted and showed a thumbs up. If the cloister at Najera had made the trip worth it until then...the morcilla de Leon completed the "worth the hassle of all this walking" up to this kilometre.

Being close to 11pm (a time at which I have not been out in the streets since I left Paris) I dragged my legs to the hotel. It was not an easy task - the locals clogged the streets of the Barrio Humedo in their hundreds. Saturday...
I noticed there were quite a few Amy Winehouse look a likes amongst the younger girls. Hanging around the Plazas with a tetra-pack litre of wine in the hand, high heels, short skirts, tattoos and hair in the shape of nests where a stalk would find itself uncomfortable due to the size. Class...it spreads so easily.

As I got closer to the hotel I noticed that the cathedral doors were open and that people were walking out. Apparently there was an organ music concert which had just finished. I walked past all the music lovers and entered the cathedral. A bonus for me as it was not usually open at night and because it meant a free entry!
Its a truly magnificent building inside, not as splendid as the Burgos cathedral, but its windows make up for what it lacks inside.

Time for bed - windows closed to avoid hearing all the fiesta going on outside.
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