Day 20 – León: Rest Day #2

I had forgotten how truly stunning the cathedral at León is. We passed through the yawning doors of the cathedral, and not a one of us failed to still in awe at the sheer beauty and silent majesty of the cathedral. León cathedral is special for one very unique reason – it has the most and best-preserved stained glass in all of Europe. I imagine the inside of the cathedral is something like what the inside of a rainbow must look like. Most of the windows are the originals, cleaned and restored so that they shine brilliantly. Even so, the cathedral has a misty gloom to it – not creepy at all, mind you. But it certainly does give one a sense of reverance for the place. The cathedral exists on two levels. Us mortals walk the first, lined with stone arches and vaulted ceilings. But the higher level is ringed with ´jewels´, so that the entire second level is a divine tribute ringing the cathedral on every side. (I´m not making this stuff up either – the cathedral was actually designing to evoke that feeling of separation between the earthly and the divine).

León itself is a fun, vibrant city. We arrived here about noon yesterday, and I spent most of the afternoon napping. The night before had been a long one – nothing but stale hot air circulating the room full of bunk beds. And apparently a drunken German had decided to take up not only his bed, but sprawl across the one next to him too. It just so happens that the one next to him was John´s. Tom, right below the German, had some unpleasant experiences too. Needless to say, it was a rather miserable night for most involved, and we did the day´s hike with very little sleep. I felt pretty lazy after my nap in the hotel, but managed to at least stretch and do some crunches (lost another 4 pounds since Burgos!).

Oh! And the hotel! Granted, the rooms aren´t anything spectacular; it´s just a little two-star hostel with an adjoining restaurant and a bar downstairs. But there are two very neat things about it: first, it´s directly across the plaza from one of the first churches built in León, which I´ll be touring later; second, the showers are sweet. They are by far the most complicated piece of bathroom equipment I have ever seen. It´s got entire rows of spouts running down the wall, two showerheads (one handheld), and even a little seat. And after turning on the water with one knob, you adjust the temperature with the other. Of course, you know exactly what temperature it is because it says it on the knob. Talk about cool.

Anyway, it was a fun shower. I heard the girls upstairs had a bath with jets arranged pretty much the same.

Tomorrow the group breaks up officially for the first time. Each of us is on our own until we reach Santiago. For me this is nothing new – I look forward to time on the trail by myself, able to work my own schedule. I´ve been very patient in tagging along with the group, getting dinner together, going shopping together, etc., even when it interferes with my own plans, but I´m glad that is done with, fun as it was. I do look forward to seeing the others occasionally along the way, however, hear about their own adventures. And of course, twelve days from now, all of us will come together one last time for our graduation dinner in Santiago. Oh how the stories will flow. It will be a fun night, especially because we´ll be celebrating no less than three birthdays – Michelle´s, mine, and Trey´s. Our birthdays are on June 21, 20, and 19 consecutively. Talk about coincidence. Anyway, we plan to have a fun time (and yes, we´ll behave; besides, I hear wine hangovers are the worst kind, so I´ll pass on that, thanks).
The Camino seems a little longer this year. I think it´s partly because I´ve done it before, and partly because I´ve got such an exciting summer – an exciting year, for that matter – ahead of me. Still, it makes the days a little longer in the meantime. So I´m doing my best to focus on here and now, and enjoy myself. In fact, in about 3 minutes when my time runs out, I´m going to head out and buy a new book to read, and go relax in the plaza in front of the cathedral (maybe with a little ice cream too?).
So that´s all for now. Buen Camino!