Today was all around great. As my Alberta friend Kari said as we walked the last few kilometers into León together, for those of use who started in Burgos, today is roughly our first third point. That alone is something worth celebrating.
I tried to get a 7:30am start but realized I left something in the room just as I heard the door lock click. I knew the German couple next door to me hadn’t left yet, because I just saw the husband go down the hall and into the shared bath in his underwear, an upgrade from the towel he wore yesterday. So I waited for them to leave and ran back up to my room.
I was off and walking by 7:50 just as the sun was rising.
As the sun came up I saw a person ahead of me who seemed a little unsteady and possibly in some pain. As I walked past I slowed to talk with her and met Camino legend Allyson. She is only on her second Camino so I am not she she would qualify for official legend status but to everyone on the Camino at this time, she is a rock star.
Allyson did her first Camino in 2017. She heard about the Camino much the same way I did; she had a friend who posted pictures of her Camino on Facebook and Allison got intrigued and started her planning.
I am not sure of Allyson’s age. She is retired, but I am not going to take a guess beyond that. This woman is young at heart!
Every person we came across knew Allyson and when they saw each other it was hugs all around. And, by virtue of the fact that I was with Allyson, I too got hugged! In one day, I went from a solo pilgrim to being with the in crowd [chuckle here].
Here is what makes Allison super cool…she started this Camino in Le Puy en Valey. That Camino starts in Le Puy France and heads to the start of the Camino Francés at Saint Jean Pied de Port, 500 miles away! By the time Alison walks into Santiago de Compostela, she will have walked 1000 miles.
When I heard that, I knew I needed to talk with Allison more. I have the Chemin Le Puy in the back of my mind for a future walk.
Allyson reminds me a little of Dorothy Tod for my Vermont friends who know who I am talking about. She is the same petite size as Dorothy and has a lot of spunk and a great sense of humor. She was a career letter carrier in the Seattle Washington area and so she walked for a living. I remember reading something on preparing for the Camino and it said that everyone needs to train for the Camino unless they are a career mail person. Allyson didn’t train; she does serious hiking in the Cascades and is amazingly fit.
We passed an amazing 20-arch bridge, Puenta Ingente (the giant bridge), and I took quite a few pictures and told Allison I wanted to paint it in watercolors. She asked why and I showed her how the light was hitting it and creating cast shadows. She said she would love to paint, but has no artistic talent. First, I will bet you that she is very creative. And second, I am living proof you don’t need to have talent to paint :-).
Allyson stopped to chat with some folks (I am serious, she knows EVERYONE). Kari happened to be there at the time and so she and I took off for León. At first it seemed like it was going to be a Burgos-like entry into the city, but it wasn’t bad at all. We were on a gravel path until we were right in the city. And, they have made crossing the highway easy for pilgrims.
Apparently Leon, at some point, was a walled city and some of the ancient wall remains.
We got to a point where Kari needed to go one way and I another. We said goodbye thinking, because of our plans, we might not see each other for a long time. Chances are because of her rest day here in Leon, she will be a day behind me for at least the next week
I am staying in a hotel tonight and it is lovely. It is actually nicer than the Paradore I stayed in last year. Right next door is an Asian restaurant, Kamado, that I had lunch at. I was ready for something other than pork and potatoes!
The restaurant was amazing. Some of the best Asian fare I have had.
I toured the Leon Cathedral. Gorgeous!
I also walked around town quite a bit. Leon is my Favorite Camino city so far!
Ok, I admit, I was feeling a little sorry for myself yesterday. But things changed today when I met Allyson and her 150 very close Camino friends. She was super interesting to talk with and I look forward to meeting her again on the Way. And, tomorrow I hope to meet up with Loretta and her daughter Claudia as we will both be in the same very small town. Great day!