This weekend we went to León, another in the series "Provincial Capitals in Castilla y León."
The city is one of the marker points on the east/west portion of the pilgrim's route from France to Santiago de Compostela - the Camino de Santiago. We thought, as we were on the Camino, we may as well pop in to Astorga which is the northermost point of the route up from the south, the one kept open by the Knights Templar all those years ago. On the way home we stopped off at Toro so Maggie could sample the local wine. It was, according to a leaflet from the tourist office, the first Spanish wine to go to the New World as Columbus packed a few crates of the stuff onboard the Santa Maria (or maybe la Niña or la Pinta.)
So what did we find out?
- Well, at least one hotel in León, that is otherwise extremely nice, has cornered the market in uncomfortable mattresses.
- That every bar in León gives hefty portions of some form of snack with each and every drink - the downside is that drinks are something like 50 cents a go more expensive than in the fair city of Ciudad Rodrigo.
- That the tourist office has no idea about Spanish practices at all - the office is open, without break, from 10am in the morning till 8pm in the evening all over the weekend; go on like that and they may have to talk to some tourists.
- On Palm Sunday in León people wave laurel as well as palm fronds and those with an eye to the easy pickings in the town park wave wisteria!
- Eating wafers - the sort of wafers you put around a person sized block of Walls vanilla ice cream in the UK - flavoured with honey, cinammon or honey and pine nuts is pretty popular in León on Palm Sunday.
- Gaudí not only built Parc Güell, the Casa Milá, The Sagrada Familia and a couple of others in Barcelona. He designed at least one building in both Astorga and León.
- Astorga produces chocolate; it has orange chocolate, green chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and chocolate with and without nuts. From our extensive research we can confirm that Astorga chocolate tastes like the economy stuff from Tesco or Carrefour but at the price of the tastefully displayed sweeties in those Belgian chocolate shops.
- Toro, in the province of Zamora, is a nice little town, with lots of street cafés and a big church. The town also produces wine. The decent stuff is quite expensive but Maggie says it is worth the euros.