The Camino de Santiago saga continues!
As mentioned in the last Camino post I ended up sharing an early taxi into Leon and skipping the outskirts of town and the "dangerous bridge" my guidebook mentioned (everyone who walked said the bridge is OK now). Once we got into town we dropped on passenger off at her hotel and then the other three of us followed the sound of drums and the people dressed in processional costumes to find the beginning of the Easter processions. We got to watch the very beginning of the parade with hardly anyone around. We later made our way to the cathedral, and the crowds, to watch the procession again and to see it join with the separate procession that started on a different side of town.
While I felt a bit guilty taking a taxi into town, even though it wasn't too far, I knew it was the best choice for my ankle, and also the only way I would have gotten to see the processions--which were a highlight of the entire Camino for me. After watching the processions and taking in all the Easter celebrations at the cathedral I checked in at the nun-run hostel and caught up with some Camino friends. Overall it was a very memorable day. (For a slightly sentimental, but live from the scene take of it, you can see my Easter post.)
My first glimpse of the cathedral--one of my favorites
First "float"--and no, they aren't KKK outfits. Even though it's very hard to get that out of your mind as you watch it!
Especially these guys
The little ones seem less threatening
I learned from my days of co-teaching religion classes in a Spanish high school (it's a long story) that these floats are really heavy. The people who carry them have to practice for months leading up to the processions to make sure they can all keep in step as they sway and carry the things
Mary and the women
Side view of the cathedral
Just as I was commenting to myself how lucky I was to be a whole head taller than most Spaniards it started to rain and up the umbrellas went!
The floats made their way to the cathedral where they met the other procession
Mary and the women
All the procession filed into the plaza in front of the cathedral where the float of Mary and the women met the float of Jesus and the empty tomb. The people carrying the float made it "dance," or do an elaborate swaying. The crowd erupted into applause and the whole thing surprised me in how moving it was.
After a brief sermon broadcast through speakers in the cathedral it was announced that the night was over and dozens of doves were released.
All the floats filed out, this time everyone with pointy caps removed
And the music was much more cheerful!
A shot of the inside of the the cathedral
I'm admittedly horrible at taking pictures inside cathedrals, but I'll just say that the inside of the cathedral matched the outside--awe inspiring.
The interior doors of the Leon cathedral
Most of us also took the next day as a rest day to see the sights in Leon and to rest our tired bodies (and hit up numerous pharmacies looking for all the right bandaids/tape/pain pills!). I really attempted to not spend the whole time walking (like I did in Burgos) and defeat the purpose of the rest, but Leon had some lovely sites!
Gaudi infront of one of the few buildings he designed outside of Cataluna
His building plus an anti-domestic violence/sexism protest
Chillin with Antonio
In case you forgot...Leon no es Castilla!
Glass of horchata. Funny story: Rest days present a problem in that you have to be out of the albergues generally by 8am and you can't check back in till 2pm or so. Buuuut finding something open in Spain at 8am is tricky. We found a cafe to rest in for a while, but I had already had a big coffee (or 2?) with my breakfast. I was looking for something mildly breakfast-like and saw that they had limonada. I knew that Leon was famous for their limonada and had seen signs indicating cafes had it all over town (I also wrongly assumed that it was an Easter drink). So, at 8am I ordered what I thought was limonade (kinda like juice, no?). The waitress gave me a really strange look. Um. Ok...maybe not. I saw that they also had horchata, so I went for that. In the end the horchata was SUPER sweet (and definitely not a breakfast drink). I later found out from my Spanish friends that evening that limonada is not limonade, but actually wine. Which is why it was a little eyebrow raising to order it at 8am!
In front of San Isidoro--one of my very favorite tourist sights along the entire Camino
A ceiling in the cloister--unfortunately you couldn't take pictures inside. You'll just have to go and see it yourselves! The ceiling frescos were out of this world!
Another courtyard shot
Sevillian pilgrim friends Juanma and Maica in San Isidro
Plaza in front of the Cathedral
Just to prove I was there!
(OK, sorry! I know that was photo heavy, but I just couldn't cut it down anymore!)