Sunday, May 5, 2013

Calzadilla de la Cueza to Sahagun

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have lots of sayings -- some tried and true and some original. I have two that apply for today --"make lemonade out of lemons" and "finished is better than perfect." (The latter I learned in the quilting world but it applies to so many other aspects of life.)
My girlfriend Michele has been suffering from shin splints for 3 days, and they are still a problem. One of our traveling companions, Brent, is also having some inflammation in a leg. The 3 of us made the decision this morning to take a cab the 20 miles into Sahagun and give their wounds time to heal.
As it worked out, the town was beautiful and a wonderful way to spend the day. The weather was glorious and actually rose into the 70's. We spent the morning walking around taking photos (photo 1) and had coffee with some other pilgrims as they came into town, on their way to Leon.
We checked into our hotel, El Rueda, located on the Plaza Mayor for 50€ for 2 with bath.
Then, while they rested, I explored the city of 170,000. I was unfamiliar with it before, but it seems to be a town of churches, only one of which is still in use. The others are in various stages of renovation or have been turned into museums.
One beautiful rendition into a museum is the former Franciscan convent known as the Sanctuary of the Pilgrim. (Photo 2) Built in the Romanesque style of the middle of the 13th century on top of a small hill overlooking the city, it is now used for art exhibits and to showcase the restoration work. The spacious sanctuary had been sealed in years past and now has been opened to its original design to flood the room with light. (Photo 3) There was also a colorful exhibit of posters from past years celebrating the Camino and another exhibit of remnants of the cloister.
From there I walked through the Arco de San Benito (photo 4), a kind of portal to the city from the 1700's, to two other sites. First was the ruins of the Monastery of San Benito (photo 5) which dates to 1080 and was considered one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in Spain. Second, was the Iglesia de San Tirso, the first church built in the 12th C to use brick and credited with starting the craze for the Mudejar style in the area. The bell tower of this church and several others in town were fascinating. (Photo 6)
The last church of note and the only one still in use is the Iglesia de San Juan de Sahagun, which dates to 1627. The facade is nicely painted but it hides a aging building. (Photo 7) Look closely at this photo at the bell tower of the building to the right. You will see a hump on top -- that is a huge stork's nest. Apparently, storks like to nest in high man-made objects, like bell towers, antennas, silos, etc. What did they do before man? It's mating season here so there is a lot of activity.
Tonight we had about 12 of us for dinner at a paella cafe down the street. It's Mother's Day in Spain and many of the restaurants were full. We reconnected with Perry and with two friends from Germany who are doing the Camino with a well-behaved big dog, Nikko.
Then we sat on the Plaza Mayor with ice cream and cafe con leche, watching the kids practice soccer in the square and the adults socialize. We had to turn in at 10 but they all were still going strong.

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