Wynette: This was our first view of the cathedral in León. We turned a corner, I wasn’t yet expecting to see it, but there it was. We couldn’t yet see the whole facade, but it kind of took my breath away. Before this, on the way to León, I’d told Charlie I wasn’t excited about seeing it. I’d seen enough Gothic cathedrals with all their ornamentation. And I didn’t plan to go inside. But all that changed when I saw it. It is hard to describe, but it has a majestic simplicity and is by far the prettiest Gothic cathedral I’ve seen. The inside was the same. Walls and walls of beautiful stained glass including flowers and geometric patterns, not just people. But somehow simple. Very little flashy gold craziness. (That was fun in Burgos and Toledo, but I’d had my fill.)
Charlie and Wynette: That is the standard first question when you meet another pilgrim. For us the most common answers we get have been: Germany then France then USA, all in the dozens. We have seen many that we think are from South Korea, too, but they are a little harder to talk to and so we don’t ask the question. (One blog said there were a lot of Koreans because of a popular book about the Camino came out in Korea.)
In addition to Germany, France, and the USA we have met: Canada 12 or more, Australia 4-5, Italy 3-4, Belgium 2, Russia 3, Turkey 1, England 4-5, Ireland 2-3, Poland 1-2, Bulgaria 2, New Zealand 1-2, Brazil 3-4, Spain 4-5, South Africa 1, Austria 1, Switzerland 1, Czech Republic 1, Denmark 2, Netherlands 0.
Of course, we have seen hundreds of pilgrims we haven’t talked to so they aren’t included in these counts.
A few people have said that they have been meeting a lot of Americans but we haven’t found that. We’ll check the Santiago completion stats when the ones for April come out.
When we tell people we are from the United States, they often ask “which state?” We have been surprised that nearly everyone knows about New Mexico.
We have met people from Texas, Arizona, and Colorado, the states surrounding NM, but haven’t yet met anyone from NM.
We met the Canadian couple in the photo above shortly before we caught a bus to take us into Burgos. We waved the bus down, per instructions by the nice woman inside the bar, in the spot the photo was taken.
Charlie: We have developed a pattern for how we eat here. If we’re staying at a nice hotel we usually have their breakfast. They are generally about €8 and very good. Each one is a little different so it is fun to see what they will have.
Otherwise we get cereal, fruit, nuts and milk the day before and have breakfast in our room.
We try to have our big meal in the middle of the day. The Spanish lunch hours work for us here. We walk in the morning and get a hotel and get settled by 2 or 3 and then go out for lunch.
Almost everyplace has a pilgrims menu and it is always about €10 for two courses, dessert, bread and water. They are surprisingly good for being so cheap. They seem to take a lot of pride in their cooking. Almost every meal is very good. Sometimes we feel guilty that we are paying so little.
It is hard on trips having to go out for every meal so we usually have a light dinner in our room. Sometimes we have cereal like breakfast. Other times we get bread, cheese, tomatoes, etc and make a sandwich.
The other thing we eat is bocadillas, that is, sandwiches. This is when we stop for coffee around 11 or 12 and won’t have lunch for a few hours. All the bars make them. Or we might have a bread and cheese snack to hold us until lunch.
Charlie: We have cafe con leche two to four times a day, every time we stop. Partly it provides access to the bathroom and a nice rest and we like it.
Cappuccino is one third each of espresso, milk and foam. Cafe con leche replaces the foam with milk, like the cafe auto lait in France. We like it just as well. The coffee in Spain is different from the coffee in Italy and we like them both about equally. We have had a couple of cafes that were not so good but generally the are good to excellent.
It adds up. A cafe is usually €1.20. Four to eight a day adds up to about $10 a day or $500 for our 50 day trip. But it is totally worth it, love our cafe breaks.
In Castille & Leon they started asking if we wanted a large or small cafe.
Wynette: Yesterday, we decided to take a taxi and skip about 13 miles because the way the places worked out we could walk either 3.5 miles (too short) or 13 miles (too long). There was no bus service so we tried to call for a taxi the night before but they said “go to the bar tomorrow and maybe there will be one available.”
We had run into Anna again and she can only walk about 9 miles a day so she wanted to share a taxi with us. But she was in the albergue and we were in the hostal. She had to be out by 8 and since it was so uncertain whether we’d get a taxi she started out walking. We did our usual more relaxed get-up-and-get-ready so didn’t get to the bar until 9:00. Luckily we did get a taxi. At that point the Camino runs parallel to the quiet road we were on so after a few minutes I asked the driver if, should we see a certain peregrino, could we stop and pick her up. He said yes and we started watching for Anna. We got about 3.5 miles along, just before the road leaves the Camino, and at that point figured we’d not find her, but then we saw her. The driver pulled over, we opened the window and called to her “would you like a ride to Caldadilla?” Her face lit up and she happily climbed in. She said she had been worrying the whole way what to do.
Here she is with Charlie at the point the taxi let us off. We took off walking and Charlie and I soon pulled ahead of her.
But we saw her again this morning. She was wearing her rain poncho, seeking some protection from the cold wind:
We told her not to fly away in it. (She looked like she was about to take off.) Charlie was then inspired with a brilliant idea for a new TV series: The Flying Pilgrim.