Day 9: Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon (The End of the Meseta)

We were excited to be heading to Leon, which is the last big city on the Camino. We have a day off planned for Day 10, Sept. 19, so we were also looking forward to sleeping in and giving our feet and backs a rest.

Walking along the road—again—we looked back to say good bye to the Meseta.
Decisions. Decisions. Thankfully this sign included the distance differential between the two routes. MOM—You will be happy to know we opted for the non-dangerous route through a little village.
In the center of this tiny town we encountered 500 yellow circles. They represent the constellations that the pilgrims from the olden days used to navigate their way to Santiago. I told Donna that I wondered how many games of Twister had been played in the plaza.
As we get closer to Leon, the Camino takes a modern turn with a footbridge over a major highway. When we got to the top of the overpass we could see Leon in the distance. (Below pic.)
We found our hotel , cleaned up and then walked to the Cathedral and heart of Leon.
Look how charming this city is! We were delighted by the hustle and bustle of people and the beauty of the stones and homes above them. At one point Donna and I said that we felt we had been transported off the Camino. “Today I feel as if I am on vacation,” I said. Ditto for Donna. We fantasized that if we were to pick various cities to spend a month in, Leon would be one of them.
A different way of marking the Camino path in the heart of the city. The scallop shell is towards the top.
Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for any meal I don’t have to plan, shop for, prepare or clean up after. That being said, Donna and I both hit town ready for anything other than the Pilgrim’s meal. We dined, not ate, in a restaurant that specialized in fish. Risotto with grilled cod and slivered vegetables on the left, and layered cod with three sauces.

What is a Pilgrim’s Meal?

Restaurants, bars, hostels, albergues and hotels offer a 3-course meal known as the “Menu del Dia” or “Peregrino Meal” for a reasonable cost of 9 to 12 euros. You choose from three starters, three mains and three deserts. The starters might be a soup, salad or rice dish. The mains are usually something semi-vegetarian depending on your definition of the word, chicken or pork. (Although one small place we stayed offered rabbit as a choice of main. I told Donna I would not be eating the Easter Bunny.)

So far, we have learned to select items that are stewed or in some kind of sauce. The grilled meats are usually dry and over cooked. However, we’ve also discussed that Camino cuisine is a lot like camping. After a long day on the trail, everything tastes fabulous!

Tomorrow, Sept. 19 is our Day OFF. We look forward to sleeping in and exploring this beautiful city.

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