A glimpse into the journal I kept for all 38 days on the Camino Frances, including up to 10 photos (not necessarily the best pictures but more that they represent that day in some particular way). Today is day 23 – May 13th. Hermanillos de la Calzada to Leon

Turns out that people in my room are either insane or just eager to get to Leon. Someone turned on the light at 6am and many people were up already! I puttered around, trying to let the rush go. I was out the door by 6:50. The restaurant next door, the one that advertised breakfast, was closed. I wandered a little bit before finally finding an open bar. …

I did the whole 20.6km straight, no breaks. The walk today wasn’t very pleasant – 99% walking in sight of traffic and much of it even on roadways and two pedestrian bridges. When I finally reached Leon proper, I must have looked a little lost trying to find the Parador and twice locals pointed me in the right direction without me having to ask for help.  Once nearby, though, you can’t miss it – the building and the plaza in which it is located are HUGE. I was a tad excited and teensy bit smug tromping through the milling people as I headed into the 5-star hotel.

The Parador is just splendid: grand, medieval, yet still tasteful. Great staircase, cloisters that were gorgeously silent save for some chirping birds, a library, a church, creaky hallways, some low ceilings, artwork galore… My room was prefaced by a solid wooden door. Inside, it had herringbone-patterned hardwood floors and a little entry way that led to the main body of the room. There, I found two single beds, a desk, two night stands, a sitting area with two chairs and a table, and a TV on top of a discreetly hidden minibar. I had a really long shower, making use of the hotel freebies of bathroom stuff. I’m clean! While I was fighting up with my hair post-shower, Canadian David came by – he had emailed me yesterday asking if I could bring his walking poles he’d left behind at the albergue in Mansilla. Hopefully the Camino brownie points I’d lost when I didn’t bring that lady’s lunch have now been replaced. …English Kate arrived just as I was leaving to wander the city – perfect timing as it meant we both were able to enjoy having the room alone. …

I really liked Leon and consider it the best of the cities so far. Lots of old architecture and modernized ones, too. I wandered the streets for a couple hours – I saw churches, a building by Gaudi, Roman walls, little plazas and squares, and colourful architecture. … The Catedral de Santa Maria opened at 4pm – I liked it more than the Burgos one – less monstrous. Though, there was a bit of construction going on inside the cathedral so it was a bit noisy. I’ve also decided that I don’t like audio guides – they talk too much and they get in the way of me taking photos when they are telephone-style. …

I met up with Canadian David times two. The three of us went for some paella and then for some gelato. As we parted ways, one kissed my hand and the other kissed my cheek.

On the way back to the hotel, I got waylaid by a calligraphy shop and couldn’t resist making a few purchases. Hopefully they survive in my backpack!