We walked 31 kilometers today. By the time we reached Hospital de Órbigo, León seemed very far away, even though it kept on going through 7-10 kilometers of suburbs this morning. We stopped on the outskirts of León for a coffee at a friendly bar. It was very pleasant to sit outside and listen to the oldies playing on the radio as we drank our cafés con leche. Another pilgrim was having a beer at 8:45am. Why not!

It has been interesting to note how the big cities (Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León) have been to us as they would have been to medieval pilgrims: centers of pilgrimage in their own right, places to get things unobtainable in country villages, and places to rest. Generally, it’s been very interesting to see the world through the eyes of a medieval pilgrim, i.e., at 5 km/h. The N-120 highway, which we’ve been following recently, was apparently laid down along the old pilgrim route, which, of course, would have been the main road back then, anyway.

There are some distant mountains that are getting closer, and tomorrow after Astorga, we’ll begin to climb them into Galicia. My legs are dying to get some proper exercise!

Despite all the distance we’ve walked so far (1,300 kilometers), it’s strange that almost “all” of the Camino is yet to come. What I mean is: most people only ever walk the last few hundred kilometers to Santiago, so the most “famous” sights of the Camino will be encountered in the last week or so: the Cruz de Ferro, Manjarín, and O Cebreiro.

Below: Leaving León, one of the biggest cities of our Camino.

Below: Pilgrims getting “fueled up” at a gas station. Even the sign (left) encourages you to grab a snack.

Below: An albergue in San Martín Del Camino (Street View). Note the low price, demonstrating that there really is no cheaper way to travel around Europe than as a walking pilgrim. No driving tourists allowed!

Below: The long pilgrim bridge to Hospital de Órbigo, over the dried-up Órbigo river. Note the jousting arena on the plain to the left. We wondered what was up.

Below: It turns out that Hospital has an annual medieval festival with heraldic decorations, jousting, siege engine demonstrations, and more. We were a couple of days early, so we missed the actual festival, but the decorations made for beautiful photographs regardless.

Below: We stayed at a large, though peaceful, albergue that encouraged pilgrims to contribute artwork to the décor. The painting on the left depicts the bridge and banners on the way into town. Also note the box full of pilgrim poles (for overnight storage).

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