Day 19: Sahugun to Leon aka “Sin dolor, no hay Camino”
At 6:30 AM we were awoken by the sound of loud church bells. I suppose it was time to rise for the The Last Breakfast... Ha! After packing up our belongings, we headed to the comedor, where we found Bridgette. She told us how the head nun yelled at her this morning for apparently leaving her bathroom light on all night, and thus wasting energy. “I don’t know how she knew I had left it on? I need it for when I use the restroom at night and can’t see.” We exchanged our own nun-run ins. I informed the nun I was allergic to gluten yesterday, so I had a banana and yogurt awaiting my arrival, while the others had plastic wrapped pastries. We paid €3 each for this feast, since we’re all told that nothing else would be open at this time (7:15 AM). Have I mentioned that sunrise isn’t until 8:30 AM here? So it's pretty dark when we begin walking.
When I asked for a cup of coffee, the nun said I would have to pay an extra euro, since I received a ‘special breakfast.’ I was shocked, but needed the caffeine since ‘nothing else was open.’ At this point, my mom told the nun to smile and be nice. Bridgette decided to translate in Spanish. The nun left the room and minutes later came back and announced to all of the peregrinos at the breakfast table that she works 12 hours a day, six days a week and hasn’t had a day off since May. “So, how can anyone expect me to smile? This woman is telling me to smile! I can’t believe this!” This made us all feel extremely comfortable and decided to leave the table prematurely, coffee-less.
It was dark, cold and raining when we walked to the train station. We saw a group of late teens down the way who hadn’t gone to bed yet since leaving the bar, and a couple of young lovers hidden in the shadows of the dark corners cursing the daylight they knew would unavoidably expose them. En route, we saw not one, but two cafés open. We could’ve gotten both coffee and fruit for half the price the monastery charged us. That nun needs to get something that rhymes with ‘paid.’ The train ride from Sahagun to Leon was 45 minutes. On the train, we spotted eight other pilgrims, all heading to Leon, most limping. At the train station in Leon, we sat for some coffee while we waited for the rain to settle down. I noticed a group of Spanish guys dressed in Real Madrid regalia, clearly headed to the city for a game. Already drunk and still drinking at 8:30 AM.
We decided to brave the rain and head a mile into town to our hotel. On the way, we noticed a flea market that we took a mental note of to stop by later. Our hotel (Hotel Q!H SPA Centro Leon) in Leon was small, but beautiful. For €60 a night, including breakfast, we were in central Leon with a view of the cathedral from our window. After grabbing something other than coffee to consume, we went straight to the flea market. If felt like it was a mixture of junk and clothing (kind of like our own swap meets), until we got to the end where it was all antiques. I was able to pick up a few goodies as souvenirs, but unfortunately most of the tents were shutting down for the day due to the rain.
Back in the city's center, there were a few souvenir shops open, where I purchased some postcards and other misc items. In one of these shops, I saw a magnet that read “sin dolar, no hay Camino” aka “without pain, it is not the Camino.” This felt good to see, further affirming that misery loves company. At this same shop, I noticed a flyer for a craft fair about two miles out of town. We decided to walk there, in sandals (giving our feet a break) while it was drizzling. The craft fair was much smaller than I imagined it to be, but I got a couple of neat items. By the time we were done there, it was dark, cold and pouring. Sandals and no umbrella.. Great. There was this random store open, where we purchased a couple of hideous plastic ponchos (€2). Safely walking back in town, we stopped by a funky restaurant that I had a gf menu (Las Tratsienda del 13)! There we ate delicious gluten free bread, a mixed salad and mushroom risotto (€30). After a good meal, it’s nice to finally be in a warm bed, away from the rain. Apparently there is now also a GF bakery in town, called Las Celiacas. Looking forward to seeing more of Leon tomorrow!
Even though this was supposed to be a 'day off’ from walking, we still completed 9 miles. Oh, well.