Hooray!! I slept very well last night, all was quiet, the room was just cool enough and the bed was just right. Isn't it strange how little things can make such a difference. For a fancy hotel the breakfast was a bit mingy especially after last night's delicious dinner but I've been eating too much so it was probably a good thing. Maree got a 'Happy Birthday' chorus at breakfast and no doubt will get another at dinner tonight.
Today's journey started with a drive in the bus to get us onto the Camino. I still feel a bit guilty as I see the 'real' pilgrims walking as we whiz past them in the bus. Our group split into two with the slower walkers going with Deb and we going on with Garry to walk an extra 3 km. The first part of the walk was along a road and was not particularly interesting apart from the fields of sunflowers and the bar where we stopped for a coffee. The next stage of the walk alongside a river was only notable for the strange snails which we saw attached to the grass stalks along the path. They were quite weird in such dry country and occurred in clumps. I walked along with Glenn and Karen and learned a lot more about Canada until we reached a bridge where we regrouped. By this time the day was starting to really warm up. Maree and I walked along with the two youngsters in the group, Robin and Neil, and found out all about the Canadian education system. Robin was probably not typical though as she had done 4 months in Japan and 6 months in Brentwood, Victoria and had studied IB rather than the normal Canadian Yr12 course.
By the time we arrived at Villalcazar de Sirga Maree was complaining of a sore foot and an investigation revealed a blister on the side of her heel. We patched it with one of er blister pads but she wasn't too keen to go on. We had the usual delightful lunch prepared by Pablo and Deb and walked around to the local church, Santa Maria la Blanca, which was established in the late 12C by the Knights Templar as part of a complex which looked after pilgrims on their journey. A nearby bar also benefited from an invasion of Canadian and Australian semi-pilgrims. We climbed back on the bus for what was supposed to be a transport section to another point where we would do a further 6 km walk towards Leon. During lunch people had commented that the day was getting very hot so Garry asked who wanted to walk the next section. I was one of three people who raised a hand so democracy prevailed and the walk was abandoned and we drove directly to Leon. In fairness, Garry did say that the walk was flat, straight and not particularly interesting. Maree was pleased because she didn't have to 'bail out' due to her blister.
In Leon our hotel proved to be somewhat unusual in that it occupies two buildings on different streets. Reception is in one of the buildings and some of the travellers are in this building while Maree and I and some others are in the other building. Our pass key gets us in the front door and then into our room. Our room, on the third floor, is very RED and as a consequence very dark. Since it was still very early we took a walk to the local Parador which is on an old monastery site and had a relaxing drink on the terrace before taking a glance through their museum. While returning to the hotel via a different route I found a bike shop which I will have to visit tomorrow. If I feel better that is, since I seem to be coming down with a cold. I also spotted a few bronze shells embedded in the footpath and what possibly may be the footprint of St James also bronzed into the footpath.
Dinner was at the hotel and was, for a change, reasonably small with just croquettes for an entree and salmon with potatos and salad for the main. A cake with ice cream was the dessert after which a surprise bottle of champagne arrived for Maree's birthday. After dinner we walked up to the cathedral where there was an international organ recital. Entry was free but we were way too late and the doors were closed with no more people being let in. Maybe tomorrow!!
Today's walk, which was supposed to be about 20km turned out to be only 14.1 km. I don't think that anyone really minded.