Mansilla de Las Mullas to Leon - 19.6 km

May 28
Lat: 42.601389 Lon: -5.576667

I got out and on the trail by 7:30 a.m. this morning... total Mileage walked so far 480.6 km! I had planned on walking with Don and Sally, but something happened and we didn't meet up together so I just walked all the way to Leon by myself. It was a perfect day to walk although this was not the most exciting place to walk because the trail led along a busy highway and through a lot of business districts. It was pretty much watching your step and keeping an eye out for the next trail arrow showing the way. The trail seemed to fly by and in what seemed like no time I was in Leon.

Leon is a beautiful city. I heard someone calling my name and when I looked around it was the Spanish couple that I hiked with yesterday. We went up to a cafe across from the Cathedral and drank coffee and ate cookies with dark chocolate on top. After about an hour we said our good byes and they pushed on to their Hosteles, and I went to mine.

While the hike and views weren't that impressive, the city is absolutely incredible. I'm taking tomorrow off so that I can explore everything and I can practice my Spanish some more. I finally found my Hosteles; it's very nice and clean. It has WiFi as well. Hawk and Christine came in around 3 p.m. and got settled in and we went to dinner around 7 p.m. Again the meals just keeping getting better the farther west we go!

They decided that they would take tomorrow off and rest as well as tour the city. I'm kind of glad as this gives me a chance to see everything here. There's plenty of time to get to the end.

Will write again; from Leon along the Camino... Buen Camino!

El Burgos Ranero to Mansilla de las Mullas - 18.8 km

May 27
Lat: 42.499444 Lon:-5.418056

I woke up at 5:45 a.m. and was fully packed and eating breakfast by 6:30 a.m. I was out the door by 7 a.m. and on my way. It was a little overcast and cool… about 45 degrees and only rising to 59 in the afternoon. The trail today was along the “Senda” road (that is where the trail runs along the main road). It runs all the way to Mansilla de las Mulas, but goes through several little towns where you can stop and get something to eat or drink.

I walked for about two hours and came to the turnoff to Villamarco when it started to rain lightly. There was a pavilion so I put my pack cover on my pack and then hurried along. As it turned out I was pretty much able to outrun the rain and get to the town of Reliegos where I came across a nice little restaurant. I stopped in and got something to eat and a cup of coffee.

The one thing that I have always thought was curious was America’s obsession with finding Elvis… well I found him. I saw a newspaper headline on a park bench and it said, "Elvis was sited in Reliegos." Who would have guessed that he'd come to Spain?

After eating something, I packed back up and went to Mansilla de las Mulas. After I got there and located where I was going to stay, I went to the local restaurant and had some hot tea. A little while later I went and checked into the El Puente Hostel. It's nothing fancy but it’s clean. It was 30 euros. The one thing that gets me is that I paid 30 euros and it doesn't have WiFi. I thought that was strange as the albergue right next door (they share the same outside wall) has a great WiFi. I can go stand in front of the albergue and use it and the albergue is only 10 euros. However, I'm the only one in my room and I can spread out if need be.

Later Hawk and Christine came in as did Frank and Jane along with Don and Sally. Frank and Jane are staying at the albergue while Don and Sally are staying here at the Hostel. We all went out looking for a good restaurant to get a good meal. We found a place that serves "Peregrinos" meals. After dinner we all went back to our rooms and got ready for bed as we all have a long walk to Leon tomorrow. So it's with that note that I will sign off from here and bid you goodnight until tomorrow... Buen Camino!

Sahagun to El Burgos Ranero - 17.7 km

May 26
Lat: 42.422778 Lon: -5.218333

I was up at 6 a.m., down for a quick cup of coffee and toast, and then out the door. We stayed at the Hostel Alfonso VI and it was really nice and clean. The price was good and they had WiFi. I figured that I'd go about 17 or 18 km today as the day was going to be long and flat walking through the wheat fields on a path near the highway.

I hadn't walked more than 2 km when I came up on a young couple hiking along at a nice pace. It turned out that it was Lauren and Colito from Atlanta. I had met them briefly a few days back in a restaurant. We walked together all morning. She is a student at Georgia State University in Atlanta, which is where I went to college. She has a dual major studying International Economics and Spanish. Her husband, Cladito, is Venezuelan and has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. We had the best time walking and talking about trails and things around Atlanta. It made the uneventful trail pass by quickly and in no time we had made our miles for the day.

Once in El Burgo Ranero, we sat down and had coffee and everyone decided where to stay the night. I have a room in the Hostel El Peregrino and they are staying across the street at the albergue. Around 6 p.m., I met with Cladito and Lauren for a while to talk and then Hawk and Christine came down so we went to dinner. The meal tonight had one of the best salads yet. It not only a lot of greens but they added pineapple and peaches. I'm loving the food!

I've been trying every day to learn several new words in Spanish and speak as much Spanish as possible. It helps me to learn and shows the locals some respect, not to mention in some instances it gives them a laugh. At any rate this will be one of my fondest memories of this hike.

Well tomorrow’s another day along the Camino so as always... Buen Camino!

Caldadilla de la Cueza to Sahagun - 22.7 km

May 25
Lat: 42.370556 Lon: -5.028056

We stayed in the albergue last night and starting at about 3 a.m., people started to get up and move around, some going to the bathroom and some even starting to pack to night hike. Hawk, Christine, and I started to get ready at about 6:15 a.m. because no sleep was to be had. We finally got out of the albergue at 6:45 a.m. and we headed down to the bar/restaurant for a quick breakfast and then up the trail.

The weather this morning was beautiful. The sky was an azure blue and at 6:30 a.m. the full moon was still high in the sky and really clear. As the day progressed the temperatures continued to climb to T- shirt weather. The breakfast today was about the worst yet. I had four little pieces of toast that was dry as dust. We were off and heading to the next town of Ledigos about 5.5 km away where we all had something to eat before continuing on. We spent a little time there and a lot of our friends caught up and had something to eat before pushing on again.

Michael Holland caught up with me and we walked together and discussed genealogy with one another. Michael is an associate professior at the University of Ireland. He knew all about finding your family roots. We talked a long time about it and we exchanged e-mail addresses so that I could get in touch with him if I had any questions. He was a really friendly guy. We walked all the way to Moratinos where he said that he was done for the day as he had been having really bad foot problems and was doing short days to give his feet a chance to heal.

I saw some “Hobbit” houses on a side trail in Moratinos so I went up and took some pictures before continuing on to Sahagun. I pretty much hiked with Hawk and Christine for a while until we got to a small park marking the halfway point to Santiago. After the park I took off again to get to the hostel so that I could get in and cleanup to sight see a little.

I met up with Hawk and Christine that evening and we were off to get something to eat. Don and Sally came by the restaurant also to have dinner and we invited them to join us. Again the food just keeps getting better. One thing to remember when hiking the Camino: there are places to eat about every few hours and if you're not careful, you'll gain weight rather than lose it like a normal backpacking trip. Today was a really easy day even though there were bigger miles.

I don't know if I mentioned it or not but it starts to get light around 6 a.m. in the morning and it's now 10 p.m. and the sun is just going down. If you were able, you could hike 15-16 hours. Tomorrow is predicted to be another beautiful day so we'll see where we end up. So until then ... Buen Camino.

Carrion de Los Condes to Caldadilla de la Cueza - 17.1 km

May 24
Lat: 42.333333 Lon: -4.8

Today I prepared to hit the trail early as Hawk and Christine were staying at a different hotel and I wanted to hike early. The hike was a little boring by some people's standards today as it is perfectly level and nothing but wheat fields on both sides, but it has views as far as the eye can see. I loved it because you didn't have to constantly watch your feet to make sure that you didn't trip over something. Also the weather was the best that it’s been yet… blue skies, cool mornings and warm afternoons.

There were no tienda's or bars to get a cup of coffee... just walking for 17 km. I did meet a man from Ireland and he and I talked for about 6 km until our paths changed. It was very interesting and also enlightening to me as my ancestry is from Ireland. He gave me enough information to do some research on my family history.

I got to the albergue where we were staying around 11 am so I had to wait until it opened. There is nothing in the area except for the albergue and a bar. I finally went down the street to the bar (about 50 yrds) and got something to eat until Hawk and Christine arrived and the albergue opened. The place filled up fast as it was the only game in town. Later in the day, Don and Sally from Colorado came in, followed by Frank and Ruth from Oregon. Micheal Holland, another Irishman, came in and joined us. It was a wonderful afternoon just sitting around and having a glass of local wine and talking about what we've hiked and what we do back home. An interesting note: Ruth is a 77-year-old woman who has just finished the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago. It took her 10 years to complete it but she did and now she's hiking the Camino and doing around 20 km a day. She was amazing and a wealth of information on the PCT in Oregon. She and Frank told me that when I come back to finish the PCT that they would be my "Trail Angels" thru Oregon.

At 7:30 p.m., the normal Peregrino dinner time, we all got together for dinner. The meals just keep getting better as we head west. The choices range from roast chicken, pork ribs, salmon steaks, or some other kind of fish. There’s still a lack of veggies. The closest thing to veggies is a green salad or artichokes and maybe French fries.

After dinner we went back up to the bunk house and turned in. All in all it was a wonderful day and tomorrow looks to be even better. More to follow from the trail... Buen Camino!

Fromista to Carrion de Los Condes - 19.2 km

May 23
Lat: 42.339444 Lon: -4.603611

I was awakened at 5 am this morning by the Canadian girls in the next room. You must remember that all the walls are extremely thin in the hotels here in Spain. I heard them leave before 6 a.m. so I decided to get up and start packing up to leave. At 7 a.m. I told Hawk that I was going to push up the trail and would meet up later. Today's walk was great… the terrain was completely level. The trail is well marked and you can see for what seems like forever. You have wheat fields on both sides of you. This trail gives you option trails that you can take (all are acceptable and part of the Camino so it doesn't matter which trail you take) and this morning I wasn't watching closely enough and I missed the turn off option to follow the river path from Poblacion de Campos to Villalcazar de Sirga so I ended up walking a side of the road route. It was nice and scenic, but the river would have been a better option. After 9.5 km, the two come back together and the last 5.6 km lead into Carrion de Los Condes.

I got into Carrion de Los Condes at 11:30 a.m. so after I got checked into the Hosteles and cleaned up I had a full afternoon for sightseeing. One very important thing to remember is to keep an eye on the crowds of "Peregrinos" walking the trail. You will need to make a reservation for the following night’s lodging in order to have a place to stay. Everybody's saying with the abnormal weather we've been having and the increased number of people hiking, the housing options have filled up several days ahead. I was lucky enough to get three bunks in the albergue 18 km ahead and Hawk is already working on the next night. There's nothing like walking 25 km and being told that there's nothing available and that for the next 20 km that everything is already booked. And by the way, this isn't a “Holy” year with increased crowds.

This is a small town but there are shops and restaurants everywhere. I was walking up one street and saw two ATM machines and then looked to my right across the plaza only to see five banks as well. I have enjoyed this town I think the best of any of the towns that I've come into. It's small enough to see it all and yet big enough to have everything that you could possibly want.

This has been a good day to just lazy away. Blue skies with cool temps in the morning and a warm afternoon were ideal. I met up with Hawk and Christine at 6:30 for dinner. We have reservations for the next three nights lodging so it’s off to bed for another sunny day of walking the Camino tomorrow.

More to follow...Buen Camino.

Castrojeriz to Fromista - 25.2 km

May 22
Lat: 42.267222 Lon: -4.403889

I got up this morning by 6 a.m. to pack. After a quick cup of coffee at 7 a.m., I left the hotel. It was a reasonably priced hotel, the Puerta del Monte, at 35 euros for a single. I've been making reservations every day for the next day as I keep hearing as well as seeing more Peregrinos on the trail. A lot of the locals say that it's at least a 30 percent increase and that all the places are filling up fast. Some think that it's due to the movie "The Way," which features Camino hikers. I don't know for sure, but it is nice to know that you so have a place to stay when you finally get there.

The climb out of town is pretty impressive with a fairly long uphill grade, but it's the downhill that will take its toll on your knees. After getting back up to the Meseta, the trail got pretty easy, but the little towns are far apart and don't have much in them so be prepared. The best place to stop and get your credentials stamped is at the Ermita de San Nicolas which is just before the river crossing going into the Provincia de Palencia. The stamp is really beautiful. I stopped in Itero de la Vega and of the only four things in town open was the albergue. They put out a nice spread for you to eat at a reasonable price of 4 euros for two eggs, bacon and three Perro callente (hot dogs that they call sausages).

After meeting an Irish couple and having breakfast with them it was time to move on another 8 km to get ready for a lunch break. When I arrived in Boadilla del Camino, I only found one bar/restaurant. After a 30 minute lunch break I headed out of town and crossed the Canal Pisuerga, a canal built in the 18th Century that has been opened up to help with the irrigation of the farm lands. You will follow this canal all the way to Fromista where you will cross it again. From there you will walk the city streets to the Municipal Albergue if you're staying in it. When you get to the center of town you will turn right on N611 the main highway.

Again I stayed in a “Casa Rural,” which cost a little bit more but gives me a room and bath. Again I had a reservation so I didn't have to fight for space. The price tonight is 35 euros and it's well worth it. I got into my room, got cleaned up, and waited for Hawk and Christine. We went out to eat and had a Peregrinos meal for 10 euros, but the food was not good. After dinner I started getting ready for bed. All in all, it's been a beautiful day with blue skies. It hasn’t been too cold and was a fun hike. More to follow..... Buen Camino.

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