Our friendly little hotel in Mansilla de la Mulles offered us no farewells or offerings of breakfast. We had kind of anticipated that as the welcome wasn't all that friendly either. The pee protectors on the bed I gladly left behind too.
We had barely crossed the bridge, coughing and spluttering as I do, out of town when I remembered my pledge to check for someone's forgotten belongings in the Albergue provincial I returned and made a humble effort. Others had also made various efforts during the previous evening, but none found Karina's friend's belongings (prescription glasses, iPod charger,...). With bounce in our step and a bit more light we crossed the bridge again and headed for the alleged crazy man running the Albergue 5kms down the road. Karina had warned me about him.
Indeed we found an Albergue down the road, in Villarente to be precise. I took an hour to eat breakfast and have a few coffees and watch the regulars stream through as they topped up on caffeine levels and breakfast needs. Sally was packed up, impatiently standing outside and trampling to go when the crazy man made himself known by doing what he allegedly did; feed pilgrims home made spirit. Out comes the bottle and a shot glass. By the time I got out the door Sally had a whiff of it and wanted one too. Of course I ended up having that one too. A good start to a slow morning.
No more excuses, we had to walk into Leon now, no more delays. A nice hotel was booked and waiting for us there. Sally was going to share with me, I had booked a twin assuming a straggler would join me. Glad it was Sally whom I got to know and trust by now. Many of the others also had hotels booked, singles, doubles, hostels,... There was a festival happening apparently and we were all told to book ahead days in advance.
Here is Ron crossing another bridge on the road to Leon. A few ups and downs, posted a postcard, dawdled up hills, spotted a lizard near one of the pilgrim water wells... And suddenly there in full view is the big smoke.
One workshop along the industrial part of town had a small exhibition of industrial art on the wall. A very proud artist in overalls appeared out of the spray painting shop to beam proudly at us. A fellow peregrine took a photo, so I did too. I thanked Signor Picassa and moved on. The hard pavement isn't so friendly to walk on, so I took every shortcut known to man to get to the hotel.
Our hotel is super nice, not that expensive at €35 per person per night. Deede and Wendy also booked there. It looked very central on the map, but turned out to be about 15 confusing minutes from the centre of town; the cathedral. I so need a rest day!!! By the time I hit town at 5pm everyone was there, Jo, Rebecca, Lynda, Kath, myself, and a host of others. Just missing our injured Carlene who is well taken care of in Madrid or wherever she is now with personal trainers and physics, tango classes, vino and tapas.