Parador de San Marcos** (330€ for two nights)
Cold and dark. We leave town and head out into the fields. We walk beside the highway much of the time… scary. We run into Peter and Hermann going over a narrow bridge into a small town. We join them for C&CC. Peter is in need of a hospital in Leon. He has an earplug stuck in his ear… Ugh! We leave the bar and enter the outskirts of Leon around 11:00 AM. The walk is hilly here, and we rather enjoy the ups and downs. They definitely give you more energy. The area approaching the city is depressingly industrial. Thank goodness for those yellow arrows leading us on into the Old City. The Catedral de Leon is a stunning feature of “A courtly city packed with plentiful riches” (as described in an 1137 AD Pilgrim’s Guide). We lunch on its plaza, at a bar offering ice cream. As well we have a salad, croquettes, and tapas – and enjoy the bustle all about. A marching band of teen-agers passes by, and there are brides in and out of the cathedral. We sit next to a man from Laguna Nigel… go figure. We’re then off in search of our Parador, one of the grandest in all Spain. The trip through town is long and we stop again for wine and Coca Cola (in Leon they always offer food with drink, so we also have a potato omelet). We arrive at the Parador San Marcos and YES it is VERY GRAND!!! The first room we are shown is stinky with cigar smoke so we are moved to #215, much better. The reception area is huge and there are private parties underway. Weddings and beautiful brides. We have a satisfying B+N and descend to dinner at 9:00 PM. We order gazpacho, dried beef, a platter of Spanish peppers, and some other stuff… none of it good at all, but all very Spanish tasting. The wine is adequate. The dining room beautiful, but with unearthly, bright lighting.