[The Pregnant Virgin]
Total Distance: 12.4 km
Total Time: 3h
Total Euro: 35/person
Route: Villarente to Leon
We slept in and stopped for a breakfast of coffee and ham and cheese pastry before leaving Villarente. Both of us were feeling much better and it was an easy walk into Leon. We opted to stay at the Santa Maria albergue, which in retrospect was probably a mistake. We chose it over the municipal albergue because it was closer to the cathedral, but they separate women and men (it’s not that E and I can’t spend a night without one another, but it is awfully inconvenient considering he has all the toiletries and I have his sleeping gear and we only have one phone/alarm between us) and place the beds in a formation where your mattress is pressed up against your neighbor’s (I know that even when the beds have some space between them germs are still perfectly capable of traveling from pilgrim to pilgrim, but there’s something about having your mattress directly adjacent to that of a perfect stranger that makes the nurse in me cringe). Once we hung our laundry, E and I agreed that our goal for the rest of the afternoon was to spend as little time at the albergue as possible.
To this end, we found some lunch near the cathedral. It was about 6 euro per person more than what we’re used to paying, but it was totally worth it. The food was all super fresh, rich and satisfying; the wine had a little bit of a kick to it and the dessert was pure decadence. After lunch, we went across the street to the cathedral and took the tour. We learned some interesting facts about Gothic architecture and admired the vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. Of particular interest to me was the number of images of Mary. In fact, at the center of the altar, instead of a depiction of the crucified Christ, there was an image of the Virgin Mother. Behind the altar were a few more statues of Mary, a traditional one of her with the baby Jesus in her arms, but also one of her pregnant. I realized that while I often imagine Mary pregnant, there are actually very few images of her as such. Toward the entrance of the cathedral, on the choir wall, there was yet another stone carving depicting the birth of Christ – midwives attended Mary in bed, while other women bathed and swaddled Jesus.
After the cathedral, we found a cafe to hang out in and researched places to stay in Paris. Since we had such a filling lunch, it’s froyo for dinner and then off to beat the albergue’s curfew.