Walking the Camino de Santiago from Leon to Santiago
First impressions –
The majority of us arrived in León, the beginning of our journey, yesterday. A few were already at the hostel when the rest arrived, and had been in Europe for a bit – but it is probably safe to assume that everyone was jet-lagged to at least a degree.
This surely added to the surreal nature of the first evening; the sleep deprivation coupled with hunger may even be an apt way to take in a new city, as our first real stroll through León’s old city center was done in such a haze that everything we saw was awe-inspiring.
Coming from New York, León is a smaller city, and is (at least on Wednesday nights) relatively un-crowded. The streets of the old city are narrow, and their rows of small shops and bars quaint.
One of the tallest buildings in the city is its Gothic cathedral – which we passed in our stupor on the first night (but have since revisited). It is an imposing sight at dusk.
Illuminated by spotlights and surrounded by an open cobblestone square, it was so impressive that I cannot help but rethink the nature of this whole experience. We will certainly have a directive, an ultimate goal in mind when we start walking tomorrow morning. But León, our origin, has been quite a destination in itself (and yes, the city is just as wonderful having slept the night).
In fact, the whole nature of our last 48 hours has been strange. We have travelled (NY to Madrid) to travel (Madrid to León) to travel some more (León to Santiago). Though, if León is any indication, no one place we stay will be a means to an end. This part of Spain is rich in culture (and history!), and each locality will have something distinct to offer.
(Check back in six days to see if I’ve edited this, sore and blister-ridden,
grumbling about how Santiago cannot come fast enough)