Day 17 – Mansilla de las Mulas
Well, I made it easily to El Burgo Ranero. The rail system in Spain is wonderfully on time and cheap. However, the town turned out to be over a kilometre from the train station. I was worried that it would undo some the healing I accomplished in Sahagun. But there was nothing for it, so off I went. The town itself was a little less than I had hoped for. It didn’t feel like a place I’d want to spend a rest day, so I started looking around for any sign of a bus station that might get me to Mansilla de las Mulas which I read was a very nice place to stay. I ended up in front of the albergue, which was closed. I peeked in the window and noticed someone cleaning up, so I tapped on the door hoping for get some info. The door opened to reveal a young Spaniard with a thick beard and a broom in his hands. I asked about the bus to Mansilla, and he smiled and pointed behind me. While standing there at the door the bus had pulled into El Burgo behind me. I grinned back and said “Gracias!” and ran to the bus.
I got to Mansilla de las Mulas in good time as the bus system in Spain is every bit as good as the rail system. The bus itself was very clean, air conditioned, and the driver had chosen a decent radio station to filter through the sound system. I noticed that most radio stations in Spain seem to play a lot of North American music, not just the modern pop hits either, some good back catalog pops up. Don McLean’s American Pie on a bus in Spain, nice.
When I arrived in Mansilla, a little old lady decided that I needed help in finding the city centre and hostel. She was very kind and could not speak a work in English, this did not stop her and she kept up a monologue most of the way, stopping only to genuflect when we passed a church. I followed her for almost an hour while she happily chatted in Spanish. I did not want to be rude and just trudge off, but she had gotten me to the city centre and I knew I wouldn’t have a problem finding an albergure or hostel, but she was determined to see me to shelter. Finally I we came across a local that conveyed my thanks and that I would be fine now. So she smiled and led one last time to the plaza and wished me well with a hug. I love the people in Spain.
I checked out one of the hostels along Calle de los Mesones, but I had heard of a nice, if a little pricy one on Calle de La Conception. So I went in search. I am so glad I found it! It is called the Alberguería del Camino. It is a charming little place with a café/bar on the main floor, a courtyard in back, very nice sitting/gaming/reading room upstairs and beautiful rooms. I’m very happy that I found such a nice place. After showering and settling in, I went downstairs for a cerveza and the best cheese bocadillo I have ever had; the bread was fresh and crusty and it has at least three types of cheese including a very pleasant Camembert. It was so very good!
I then went out for a little walk to check out the open air market. It had everything from clothes to watches to rugs to baked chicken. It was a nice little diversion and I found I had to really reign in my temptation to spend my euros. Afterward, during siesta I was window shopping for a store to buy some food supplies for the next day. A local saw me and said, “Hey peregrino!” then pointed at the closed shop I was looking at and stated “No, no – mucho dinero!” and then he directed me to the local Dios that not only was open but was decidedly less expensive.
While heading back with my small cache of chorizo, bread, oranges, and chocolate I saw Keith, Birgit, and Katie sitting in the central plaza! I was especially surprised to see Keith as he was supposed to have stopped at a town a quite a bit before Mansilla. However, he had found himself past that town rather unexpectedly and decided to head on rather than backtrack. Lucky for me as he is always good company. We were all quite happy to see each other again and decide to have dinner together. We decided that based upon my lunchtime bocadillo, we would try the dinner at my hostel.
While waiting for dinner, Keith and I sat in the hostel’s lounge and talked about our travels so far, our families, and thoughts on the Camino. It was a nice downtime and Keith shared some great stories about how he met his wife, Alice.
At dinner, we all opted for the rather simple but very flavourful fried eggs. Yum! We chatted a little with another pilgrim sitting at the next table who was walking the Camino solo, and at a nice slow pace. It gave him a lot of time to explore the areas around the towns he is staying in. It would be tempting to do that in the future at some point, take perhaps 6 weeks to walk from St. Jean to Santiago. Finally, the food and wine started to hit us and after dessert we went our separate ways.
Tomorrow they walk to Leon and I will take my last bus of the walk to Leon. Keith and I have a pensione pre-booked for two nights. Peter, Morag, and Danny are also booked somewhere in Leon for a two nights.