A Quick Trip to León.

John surprised me a couple of weekends ago with an overnight trip to León, Spain, about two and a half hours (or three? I fell asleep...) by train to the northwest of Madrid. Looking at the map, I'm surprised by how close we were to the northern coast, a place I want to try to visit before we leave Spain. 

 

Even though the weather was rainy the majority of our time there (not surprising for northern Spain!) we made the most of it, walking around when we could and stopping in cafés or the cathedral when we couldn't. We found a great package deal to stay at the Parador; this chain takes old, historic buildings and turns them into places for people to stay and eat, preserving much of the original style of decoration and creating living museums of sorts. This particular Parador, called the Hostal de San Marcos, was once Spain's western headquarters for the Military Order of Saint James, beginning in the 16th century. Because León is a stop on the Camino de Santiago, many pilgrims stopped here along their journey to receive care and sustenance from the friars in residence.

I love getting away, even for a night, even in the rain. (I also love staying home, but more on that later.) I love riding on trains and unlimited heating in a hotel room (have I mentioned that our apartment errs on the cold side?!), and most of all, hotel breakfast buffets with all-you-can-drink coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, and bowls and bowls of fruit.

The Hostal de San Marcos (our hotel) at night. 

The Hostal de San Marcos (our hotel) at night. 

The inner courtyard in the Hostal de San Marcos.

The inner courtyard in the Hostal de San Marcos.

Statue of a weary pilgrim in front of the hotel.

Statue of a weary pilgrim in front of the hotel.

Signs for the Camino were everywhere!

Signs for the Camino were everywhere!

Saturday morning farmers markets are alive and well in León.

Saturday morning farmers markets are alive and well in León.

The gothic cathedral in León, undergoing some maintenance right now.

The gothic cathedral in León, undergoing some maintenance right now.

The symbol of León inside the cathedral.

The symbol of León inside the cathedral.