Our first pilgrimage. The Camino. The Way.
by Captain Bradley
If you enjoyed “The Way” film with Martin Sheen, you’ll have a head start here. If not, find it on Netflix. It’s quite the true story…but no one had to die for my oldest girl, Brianna, to convince me to go. Just go.
After a few months of planning, we were off this week. Flying over 24 hours with a train ride, via Atlanta, Paris, and Madrid, we arrived in Leon around 8pm. Fortunately, the sun sets here after 10 now. I’m typing this around 10:30 and there’s still light. Last vino tinto (red wine) of the night.
I digress. Last night was a great first night, as short as it was. We hopped between three or four tapas bars, enjoying cervesas and free food. Yes, that’s how they do it here. Buy beer. Eat well. Spent 3-4€ at each stop. Hands down, last night’s winner was “Jamon , Jamon ” , the quaint, little bar with various meats hanging from the ceiling. Jovial gent served us up the usual beverage and a plate of chorizo, Jamon Iberico, and manchego cheese. Nice way to start our three-week experience…great food, beer, conversation for hours..for less than 20€ or $24. I would have pictures to share if we weren’t determined to avoid looking like the giddy tourists we were in Leon. No apologies here.
We turned in early for me, but it had to be done. No TV. It’s all in Spanish. Who knew? No writing. Just get to sleep, damn it, since your body clock is thrown. 7am or so, we hit the trail.
We ended up and out before 8 and we were too early for the first cathedral. So, we got going. Too far to go to wait until 9:30. Especially, when we begin with weather in the 50’s Fahrenheit. On this leg of the Camino, in July, you hike early and rest, eat, sleep, imbibe, and enjoy the rest of day. We travelled through Leon’s downtown and industrial district and this little guy appears….
Today was a hoot. We traveled 22k on foot, through many a field, village, virtual ghost town and historic landmarks. All good, as were the baguettes, olive oil, meats and cheeses, finished off with a 4-course veg meal with wine. All for about 28€ for everything. Bonus, local store sells bottles of Spanish reds for 1.35€ to 2.75€ per bottle! No wonder they give it away at 9€ price fixed meals.
Lastly, my nicest surprise today was meeting so many nice pilgrims on the Camino. Donna from Canada was nice on the trail. Another family of three from Canada chatted poolside (we paid 10€ total for this auberge tonight and the same in 1€ drinks all day). A guy from South Africa. A hippie loud-talker from the coast of Spain. A dapper fellow from Austria. Another from Germany. Yet another father and child from Italy (awkward dining partners, as none of us spoke his one language). A family of three from Vancouver, led by mom Suzanne, who offered me her phone to text home, before I figured out the limited wifi range. And last, and best, the sweet family of four from Barcelona on their fourth leg of the Camino in their fourth summer trip. Mom, two girls, and one spunky boy, Lourense…just look….
He introduced himself in Spanish, then smartly switched to English. We chatted. He took my sunglasses. Tried them on. Took a selfie with his Nikon. Another with my phone. Bounced around. And we did it all again after dinner with Brianna and his sisters. Very entertaining, especially when those four started pouring Spanglish, English, and Spanish like waterfalls. Too sweet. Mom was cool and spoke excellent English, and her kids could to in varying degrees. We will see them all again and again as we continue.
What a day. Brianna is out. Our auberge bar is starting to wind down downstairs and hopefully the remaining loud-talkers will allow all to sleep. Maybe not.
Goodnight and Buen Camino!
Good morning. Just edited a few things while waiting for Miss Brianna.
Happy 4th from the Camino!