Day 31 – To Villadangos del Paramo

Leon to Villadangos del Paramo – 21 Kms, 26,170 steps

I left my hotel in Leon about 15 minutes before dawn this morning and took a direct route to meet up with the Camino, at the point where it emerges from meandering through town past every religious site.

I’ve mentioned my Aussie friends, Dennis, Ginny, and Heather, before. I enjoy their company and have run into them repeatedly during my walk. This morning was no different: at the exact moment I was crossing a major Leon intersection to join the official Camino path, the three of the were doing the same thing from a different direction. That’s another one of those happy “Camino coincidences”. I hadn’t seen them in several days, even though we all had a Leon rest day, and bingo! here they were right in front of me this morning. Amazing!

So, we walked together all morning. Or rather Dennis and I walked together, with Ginny, and then finally Heather catching up with us when we took a break. It was fairly cold out and I had layered up with both a short- and long-sleeve tee-shirt, my fleece, and my windbreaker. My neck Buff and a warm gloves finished my Fall ensemble for today. Not only was it in the 40s F but there was a chilling breeze, too, and it was cloudy all day. I usually plan on shedding layers by mid-morning as the sun warms things up but that was not to be today; I kept it all on, all the way.

Dennis is a retired boat-builder from the Sydney area and we have some nice conversations as we walk. He, Ginny, and Heather are all Camino veterans, so we have that in common, too. They’ve invited me to get in touch if I’m ever in Australia; maybe this is why (Camino-wise) I’ve met them. Perhaps a trip “down under” is in my future.

The church of San Froilan, where the Virgin and the Apostles look to Santiago

The town of La Virgen del Camino marks the end of the suburban sprawl and industrial zone to the west of Leon. Many pilgrims choose to taxi from Leon to here; we walked it, of course, and arrived round 10 AM.

Shortly afterwards, the Aussies took an optional southern Camino branch to Mazarife, so we parted company. I’m certain I’ll see them again.

The real Camino wanders alongside the N-120 roadway, similar to, but with a much more varied landscape than, the Meseta. I stopped in Valverde (my halfway point today) for coffee, a slice of the proprietor’s wife’s excellent pound cake, and 20 minutes of “boots off” time, then went on to pass through San Miguel. In another 90 minutes, I was in Villadangos and my hostal was in view.

The last time I stayed in Villadangos, I was in a hostal right in town, over what I dubbed the “fly cafe” due to a prodigious number of the winged pests, and I wasn’t interested in staying there again. The current place is something of a truck stop and half a kilometer outside of town, but it has very nice rooms and a very good kitchen (hardly a fly to be seen). I had their Menu of the Day for lunch.

What happened when I poured my chilled vino tinto into the glass

The Menestre de Verduras (vegetable stew) starter was the best I’ve had so far, and I think the fact that it had vegetarian unfriendly chorizo in it was one reason it was so good.

I feel pretty good today, even after 21Kms, and I think that’s down to my rest day yesterday. I’ve got a mix of short and long days in my final two plus weeks, which I hope will turn out to be a good strategy. Tomorrow, for example, my walk to Hospital de Orbigo is only 11 Kms. However, the temperature is forecast to be much like today was, so layers are ensured, and there’s a chance of rain, as much as 50% at times. I’d prefer to stay dry, thanks. Onward to Santiago!

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