we resisted the temptation to climb aboard the air conditioned bus, which rolled up to the stop for the driver’s smoke break just as we plopped down to rest our feet. even officially within the city limits we had a goodly walk to reach our destination but — I don’t know if I can stress this enough — it was so much more pleasant and interesting than trudging into Burgos. the Camino followed the twisting, older side streets, over a pedestrian bridge and past remnants of the city walls. the sidewalk followed broad, sunny avenues, lined by an array of stores, restaurants, and businesses. the closer we got to the heart of the city, the more character emerged. the Camino followed a somewhat circuitous route — through the heart of the old city, past the cathedral and all the major sights — to our hotel outside the old city walls. not a problem when you’re walking straight through León and on to some farther destination, the sights for which León is known are worth the detour — while it pales somewhat in comparison to the impressive size and detail of the Burgos cathedral, the one in León is truly remarkable (and about which more later). we arrived on a Friday at lunchtime (early afternoon) and the yellow arrows took us through one of the more remarkable pedestrian-oriented center-city shopping areas, down narrow alleys, past trendy and touristy bars alike, abandoned buildings and ones in the midst of remodeling. but when you’ve already come nearly 19km on a sweaty day on calves that still twinge and feet that are again uncomfortably sore … the sights could have waited until the following day when we took the time to sleep in, relax and soak up the character of the city — a shortcut wouldn’t have gone amiss. but once we finally made it to the Plaza San Marcos and got our first glimpse of our lodgings for two nights … the detour was worth it!
the arrival into León, while also following a busy highway and DIY stores that seemed to go on for ages, was a vast improvement over that into Burgos (though still couldn’t compare to arriving in Pamplona); pedestrian overpasses that gave us our first glimpses of the city. we passed the headquarters of the Caja Espana and took a breather on a bench at the end of the bus line — next to a psychiatric hospital.