Today we did not leave our hotel until 8:30. Peggy hugged the Lady Innkeeper who was so considerate yesterday. She had her son carry our bags up the two flights of stairs and made sure I got my beer. It was a humble, family run business that more than made up for the somewhat neglected maintenance with their warmth.
On to trivia.
In Sahagun yesterday we witnessed workers constructing elaborate metal barriers along the city streets. My first thought was they were trying to protect pilgrims from traffic. It was raining so the camera did not come out. It then dawned on us that they were erecting these barriers to keep the bulls that run through the streets from crashing into the stores. Fortunately, like in Pamplona, no bulls for us.
The source of much Spanish wealth before the contributions of the Incas and Aztecs was based on wool. The merino sheep from North Africa were adapted to the wildly varying weather conditions of northern Spain. The nobility owned all the sheep and hired Shepards to guide the sheep to the mountains in the north during the summer. In the fall, the sheep used Canadas ( need the squiggle over the n) to return. These Canadas were 100 to 150 yards wide and crossed much of Spain. They have been replaced by trucks. The sheep would then eat wheat stubble and manure the fields in the Meseta. Made the wealth of places like Leon. Most of the wool ended up in Northern Europe. Our Merino wool shirts and socks mean a lot to us today.
Storks like Spain. Their stork babies can’t even stand for two months. Mom or Dad are on watch and feeding their brood. We have a nest in the bell tower of St. Martin which is outside our hotel window. The tower is of stone. Storks like stone. Peggy keeps her eyes open for the baby storks.
Wine served with a Pelegrino’s meal is pretty basic. It can give you the wrong idea about Spanish wine if you only drink it. Not complaining as it comes in large quantities and is drinkable. But if you ask for a superior wine you get the good stuff for surprisingly little. Everyone has heard of Rioja but there are many other quality Spanish wine regions. They just are rarely exported to the US.
The town we are in tonight was once the chief mule market in Northern Spain. Hence the name Mansilla de las Mulas which I translate as “Get a handle on that mule”. The other curious name was our place last night, El Burgo Ranero or Frog Town. Peggy thinks it comes from Granero or Granery which got shortened. I like Frog Town better.
Back to our walking. Today was a piece of cake. Did notice a large number of cabs carrying people to the next town. The Mesata can be boring but the flowers and changing weather keep it interesting. On a Senda over easy ground with overcast skies and no rain. Went through the cute town of Reliegos and stopped for a ration of Limon and a packaged pastry about 11. Ran across some underground Hobbit houses that I thought were Bodegas at first until I noticed the chimneys. Crossed through the city gate into Mansilla de las Mulas by 12:30. Walked right to our Hostal.
It is the little things like a towel rack and rocking chairs and a warm and welcoming common area that make family hotels so nice. This place had it all.
Charming place. Filled with antiques and furnishings. The Innkeeper would not let us go to our room until we had a beer and a Limon bebida. He carried our bags. I didn’t protest much. Peggy took pictures of our room. The storks are out back. Walked around the town. Deserted at Siesta as you can see from pictures at 2 on a Saturday afternoon. Found a wine and tapas bar. Nice 3 glasses of wine and tapas for 3 Euros. Returned to the Hostal and sat down in the bar. Our Innkeeper Javier taught me what he could about Spanish white wines. He promised an advanced course in the local reds this evening. Needless to say, this is perfect for me.
Looking forward to our journey into Leon tomorrow morning but this is the kind of place I could hang around.
City of mules…perfect place to hang out…..wine, women (oh, no…towel racks) and rocking chairs…..and a comfortable bed. No Pilgrim had it so good as that in medieval times.
The rocking chairs may have reminded you of home! Love to read your news and hear of your travels…all is well here…5 more days until I’m retired!
You can join us for the last stretch into Santiago….
Always so interesting to get our nightly history lesson. Didn’t know that about Merino sheep, or about canadas. Glad the walking is cool and interesting.