First, some thanks. To Steve Smith of The Mountain Wanderer Book Shop in Lincoln, NH - thank you for contributing the gift card to our fundraising raffle last December! You helped us raise over a thousand dollars for GirlVentures in that specific raffle by contributing such a great prize. We are much obliged.
Speaking of fundraising...I believe we are very close to our $5000 mark for Global Fund for Women, and I think we have raised over $4000 for GirlVentures. I will be able to give you exact amounts once the Brooklyn Boulders climbathon donations have been added to our tally (those funds were sent from Brooklyn Boulders last week and should therefore arrive at the nonprofit organizations this week).
Thanks to everyone who donated to Global Fund for Women and GirlVentures - these two nonprofits help empower girls and women in the USA and around the world, so thank you!
A couple more things about our stay in Mansilla de las Mulas.
Hugh's friend and his family took us out to dinner - my goodness, did we feast! We had octopus, squid, calamari, salad, cheese dumplings, steak, ham, bread, wine, ice cream, cheese cake, chocolate torte...I know I'm forgetting a few things...the food kept coming and it was all delicious! The conversation was engaging and the company was absolutely superb. We are so grateful for such a generous meal and a wonderful evening. I've already sent a private thanks, but I'll say it publicly too - muchas gracias! (You know who you are). ;)
The public albergue (muni) in Mansilla de las Mulas is well-designed and the hospitalera is very sweet. The rooms are spread through different buildings and the doors are thick; there were partying peregrinos in the albergue last night, but I didn't hear them until I went out into the hall to find the bathroom at 2:30am. Once back in my room, I couldn't hear the loud talk at all. It felt like we were in an intimate private albergue. Also, the hospitalera offered to do our laundry for free (I believe that was because of the kids...normally, it's three Euros to wash and three to dry). There's a kitchen, a courtyard, and a few shower areas. We were warm and toasty all evening, and the beds came with blankets. Two thumbs up.
Onward, to Leon...
Leaving town this morning, catching the beautiful sunrise...
Going through Villarmoros, then Villarente (we stopped and had coffee/croissants there), then up and over the hill in the photo down below...
We reached the pedestrian bridge outside of Puente Castro. The bridge was built last year, I believe. Previously, pilgrims had to run pell-mell across four lanes of highway with little visibility (hills and curves in the road). We're grateful the bridge is now in place.
We traveled through the busy Puente Castro on the outskirts of Leon, into Leon itself.
So...here's my opinion, for what it's worth...if you have to choose between spending a day off in Burgos or a day off in Leon, choose Burgos. Here's why -- a) Burgos feels like an authentic ancient city while Leon feels a bit like a tourist trap, b) the Cathedral in Burgos is more complex and it is free (Leon charges five Euros), c) the Cathedral in Burgos is open seemingly all day and Leon's closes at 2pm, d) the walkways by the river in Burgos are gorgeous, e) everything in Burgos is less expensive than Leon, and f) Burgos has an all-around better feel to it. Again, that is just my opinion and I'm sure others will feel very differently. I would happily live in Burgos, but I'd rather visit than live in Leon. Again, I am sure others will have their own strong opinions as to which is the better city.
Tomorrow we head to Villar de Mazarife.
Misc. comments - we keep seeing familiar faces, and that's wonderful. It's nice to run into the same pilgrims again and again. Alex and Victoria (Happy Anniversary!), Howard and Sue, Lena, Loretta and Lee, and many others...I hope we keep seeing you over the next couple of weeks. I fear Franco is now too far ahead of us, but hopefully we'll see him again at some point. Flo is probably at Santiago, he was moving fast and he's an experienced all-season trekker. To everyone, whether we see you again or not...Buen Camino. :)
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