We took a few more pictures of Leon while leaving...
The Parador. We should have stayed there last night. One hundred twenty-five Euros for a triple room, and that includes breakfast, use of the spa, and drop-dead five-star gorgeous surroundings. We kicked ourselves for not checking it out yesterday.
Through the western outskirts, to La Virgen del Camino...
We passed through a tiny town with one cafe - Fresno del Camino - then continued up a dirt path to the top of a grassy plateau.
The day was cloudy and it rained here and there, but we had a good time nonetheless. Hugh raced the girls a few times on his bicycle (while they ran), and we took turns biting chunks off a huge block of delicious cheese I had purchased in La Virgen del Camino.
We reached the little village of Oncina at the top of the hill (signs for the bar were everywhere). Instead of stopping, we pushed through until we arrived at Villar de Mazarife.
There are three albergues in Villar de Mazarife. Two stand at the entrance. One, San Antonio de Padua, holds fifty people. I looked in - lots of bunks in one room (8 Euros a bed). There are private rooms, and they have triples for 45 Euros, but we were looking for something that offered some privacy for a little less money. There's the Albergue Jesus, which is five Euros a bed and holds fifty people - they also have private rooms. We didn't look in on that one, but instead headed to Tio Pepe, which is in the center of town near the church.
Tio Pepe is nine Euros a room - I'm not sure how many peregrinos the largest room holds, but I doubt it's many. Our room holds only four people - perfect for us. The entire albergue holds 22 peregrinos and there's a restaurant attached. Our room has an excellent view of the church (and the storks nesting on top) and we have our own radiator (we control the temperature). We had the pilgrim's menu for nine Euros each - the food was delicious - and the hospitalera is very sweet and accommodating. So far, two thumbs up. I'm a bit worried the noise from the downstairs bar will travel up to the rooms this evening while we're trying to sleep, but our doors are thick so that might not be a problem. I'll let you know in the morning.
Hugh and I just had a long, productive talk about life in general - it's good to have him with us again. He's fine company on the trails and he's an excellent father. The girls are playing games in the albergue's courtyard, and I'm on my second cup of cafe con Bailey's. Life is good, at least for this peregrina.
I get a lot of questions regarding the weather. It's usually in the 40s here (F), and it's rained a few times as we've hiked, but that's normal weather for us and we've all been quite comfortable. You can tell which peregrinos are from warmer climates...we keep seeing people from warmer climates wrapped from head to toe in buffs, scarves, and coats. We're usually in base layers and wind/waterproof jackets...no fleece and we usually skip the waterproof pants even when it's raining. If this were the summer, however, it would be the opposite...those folks dressed from head to toe right now would be very comfortable and we'd be lying in the middle of the trail in a pool of sweat, unable to continue. :)
I'm not sure how far we're going tomorrow. Astorga, once a center of chocolate-making, beckons...the girls want to get there and look around...and eat chocolate...however, it's 19.4 miles from here. Both girls have told me they want to go for it...if we do it all on one shot, then we'll take the next day off. I think we'll see how we feel tomorrow once we reach Santibanez de Valdeiglesia...we'll stop there for the night if the girls change their minds about getting to Astorga in one day. We'll just take tomorrow as it comes and see what happens.
I was asked about the blue tubes hanging from our packs...those are Nalgene insulators (insulated containers for our drinking bottles). We haven't used them for the sake of insulation, though at the beginning of this trip I thought we might. Basically, they're just convenient ways to attach our water bottles to our packs. We like to carry our food and water in convenient places so we never have to take off our packs for food purposes (we rarely stop for breaks...we prefer to eat and drink as we walk).
More thanks are due...this time, to Shaw's Supermarket in Littleton, NH. They provided a warm and friendly place for us to sell our raffle tickets late last year (proceeds went to GirlVentures). We sold A LOT of tickets in front of that store...so thank you, kind managers and employees of Littleton's Shaw's!
Tomorrow we head toward Astorga. Not sure if we'll get all the way there or not...we'll see how it goes tomorrow. Whatever the girls decide is fine with me and Hugh.
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