Sunday, February 22, 2009

Clarification on the last hysterical post – starting again at Pamplona

We’ll start at the start. We caught a bus at Pamplona. It went to Vitoria, then we were to catch a train to Leon. Only we didn’t get off at Vitoria. Noooooooooooooo. We stayed on, gawking at the town wondering ‘do we get off?’ only to find that YES WE BLOODY WELL DO GET OFF. Ahem. Anyway, we went to Bilbao, where there were no trains or buses to Leon. So after dealing with the worst and rudest customer service woman in the world, we caught the bus to Burgos then managed to get another bus to Leon. I have to say, Bilbao is an ugly city. It was a shock to view it after seeing so much beauty. Of course, it was made worse by the nasty piece of work at the bus transit place. Anyway, after that, we arrived at Leon. Leon was perfection. It was amazing and wonderful and I loved it. I especially loved the albergue. The women who ushered us in and explained things were so kind I felt soothed. There is a book swap shelf, but there was no point in me swapping ‘The Pilgrimage’ because none of the books were in English. So I just left it there in the hope that someone else will enjoy it and that instead of reading I’d do some writing for once. The room was heated which great and slightly unusual. I got to wash some clothes safe in the knowledge they would dry. And breakfast was provided! All this for… A donation. We weren’t sure of the etiquette surrounding donations. Other places that were way worse had been 3 to 8 euros. We threw in 20 because we figured that was roughly correct. We were vindicated when we stayed for a second night (it’s not usually allowed, but it wasn’t exactly peak season) and were charged 6 euros. On our day off we got to see Leon a bit. The cathedral was amazing. I was a bit overcome by how huge and beautiful it was. We then went to what I now consider the highlight of my trip. Yes, it even tops the elephants, tigers and snakes. At San Isidoro I saw the tombs of the Kings of Leon. I can’t say I like the band much so please don’t let your thought process go there. It is a 4 euro charge but this place is worthy of the kind of awe that I rarely get to feel. It floored me. It was the most beautiful and heart-stopping place I have ever seen. It was small but amazing. I don’t think pictures could do it justice. I won’t say more because words are not helping me.
After that we were taken upstairs to the museum and library. The museum was ok, but the library shocked me. And not in the good way. I don’t know much about the preservation of books, but I suspect that this collection would be better off in a state run museum. Again, I won’t say more because I’m actually still really upset over this.
Anyway, overall Leon is the kind of place that makes me wish I could speak fluent Spanish (as if there is a time when I wouldn’t want this) so that I could move there.
We slept again – this time I noticed that the beds are actually really noisy, but who cares. I still appreciated the warm room.
We then set out to Villadangos. There was an unpleasant throbbing in my foot, but nothing major. Or so I thought.
*cue dramatic music*
My foot got worse and worse. But suddenly, there we were! Villadangos. And there were bright shiny yellow arrows which were screaming ‘it’s ok! The albergue is right here!’ It was closed. We rang the number listed and were told to press on to San Martin. So we did. We once again saw a glistening new albergue. 3 euros a night and the signs all looked promising. Again it was closed. I sat down in the dust and ate a honey sandwich. It seemed like the only thing to do. Gill ran around like a mad chook, quite certain that I’d flip out.
But eventually I got up and we continued. I was almost in tears by this stage wondering what I would do. And amazingly, there was an open albergue, not more than 400m after the closed one. I was saved!

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