Day 26: León to Vilar de Mazarife

Leon to Villar de Mazarife - 02

Monastery San Marcos. Now a luxury hotel.

Distance to go: 317.5 Kms

The alarm clock went off at 05:45 and we were out the door and on our way again at 06:30. The first part of the walk was through the streets of the suburbs of León which was less than inspiring. Until we came across this most beautiful building in the Plaza San Marcos. Originally a more modest pilgrim hospital built in 12th century it was to become the headquarters of the Knights of the Order of Santiago. Their job was to protect pilgrims on the way. It is now a luxury Palador hotel.

Outside the main entrance is a wonderful bronze statue of a pilgrim sitting on the base of a stone cross resting his feet. I loved it.

Leon to Villar de Mazarife - 06

A pilgrim and a bronze.

From here the path lead out across Puente Rio Bernesga built in the 16th century. We wound our way through some pretty dull streets of suburbia that were even less inspiring. If anything they spurned you on to get through it all. We passed some small bodegas that looked like hobbit houses. Here wine was stored in years gone by to keep it cool underground. 

Leon to Villar de Mazarife - 10

Hobbit bodegas.

Then we had to traipse through an industrial complex before finally arriving at the town of La Virgen del Camino and the first cafe that was open since we left 8 kms ago. It was not pretty or chic. But it had great tea and a huge sticky bun and that was good enough for us. We met Artur once more. He was a lovely Costa Rican man we met 2 weeks ago then parted company about 8 days ago. Once again people come into and out of our lives. My feet were playing up already so I changed from my boots to my sandals. Bliss!

Just after the cafe stop the path splits and there is an option to take the ‘senda' beside the road and is 2 kms shorter or go cross country. We chose the latter. Artur chose the former so we parted company again. The 2 paths converge in 2 days time. We should meet him again.

We passed the tiny village of Fresno del Camino. The wind started to whistle. Shifty eyes followed us through. A scene from a spaghetti western.

Leon to Villar de Mazarife - 16

Not the uniform I am used to wearing.

We walked on to the even tinier town of Oncina. It had a nice feel to it. Even nicer when we spotted this man and his veritable oasis set up at the roadside. He was such a lovely man. His stall had everything a pilgrim could need. Fruit, biscuits, drinks both hot and cold, chocolate and much more. You paid by donation. You gave only what you could afford. Every day he is there he told me with his friend and their dog. This is what I really love about this Camino. You just dont know who or what is around the next bend. We had a hot drink, bought some fruit and cereal bars and walked on.

Leon to Villar de Mazarife - 19

Chozas de Abajo high street.

We climbed to 900 metres above sea level onto moorland. Now the wind was full on our faces and was brisk and gusty at around 20 knots. This made the going somewhat tougher but it did keep us cool. After 5.5 kms we arrived in Chozas de Abajo. Time for more tea and use of their toilets. Other than in the bar/cafe we saw nobody. How do these places survive? Beats me.

Leon to Villar de Mazarife - 20

We made it for another night.

The last 4.6 Kms to our stop for the night was along a flat country road. Dark grey clouds were building right ahead. The wind blew stronger. Being a bit of a meteorologist I turned to Debbie and stated that it was going to piss down. Soon. We were not 200 metres from the village when it started to sprinkle celestially as predicted. By the time we got into our albergue it was full on. Our timing was impeccable.

Leon to Villar de Mazarife - 22

Albergue Tio Pepe.

We are staying in the Tio Pepe albergue in Villar de Mazarife. Debs and I are in a room of 4 bunk beds. We have the bottom ones and at this time, the top two are unoccupied. We had a great bowl of soup and a spanish tortilla each for lunch. This is a nice place to stay. There are 2 other much bigger albergues in the village. We have snoozed, shopped for some supplies and demolished an ice cream each. The rain has stopped. The sun is out and the “bloody bloody wind” blows.  Around here they call the wind Mariah……….

Finally after some absence is mutt de jour. Belonging to the friend of the lovely man with the oasis in Oncina. The friend runs a dog rescue centre.

Leon to Villar de Mazarife - 14

Rescued pooch.

Distance walked today: 22.2 Kms

 © Mark Dexter 2015