Mansilla Las Mulas to Astorga, 55 miles

Mansilla to Astorga - 55 miles.
Left at 0830, arrived 1600, 5h 11 min riding time.
15 or so km to Leon, starting to climb up into the hills again. Busy roads, big town, chaotic riding conditions. Got to the Cathedral early and bought some film that wouldn't load into my camera, fiddling for a while on a bench, turned around and I'm being filmed by 2 Italians. They walk over for a chat, turns out they did the Camino themselves on bikes years ago and liked the idea of the trailer.
Pulled bike to front of cathedral for photos...

Leon Cathedral

Leon Cathedral at night

....and bumped into the aussies again, the ones from the cafe just after Frank met the renault. They caught the bus here HA. They had sent their tent ahead and were staying in refuges before I met them the first time, now they have given up walking altogether!!
Into the cathedral and get my card stamped, huge place, maybe 100´ high inside. Stained glass windows are absolutely amazing.
Came back out to unlock the bike and this time I'm being filmed by Germans! So I walk the bike around them in a circle doing a silly walk (John Cleese), they laughed and filmed me all the way.
Saw a few more things in Leon.....

Bronze Pilgrim, San Marcos building, Leon

The lumps on the front of the building are scallop shells, the emblem of St Jacques the pilgrim

....but mainly traffic, traffic, and more traffic.
The tourist map I was given in Mansilla at the site was good (thank you), but the route the girl had marked for me to follow was all 1 way streets, the wrong way on. Took the road for Astorga from the town centre, but it vanished from the signs after 1/4 mile, walking round and round a roundabout wondering where the hell I had gone wrong....(follow the Burgos signs, it's the same road). Found the signs again next to the bullring, up the hill over the bridge and into hypermarket land. Another supermarket day..... food... YES... thats 2 days now.
My trousers are falling off me and I´ve lost my belt, Im holding them up with a bootlace, compo style, erm...lost a little weight here.
Out of Leon and its a strange landscape, up a hill, long pull, and onto a plain, down a small hill and up a big one and its another plain, over and over. Small towns mostly, took a few photos, finally get to Astorga and its on top of another hill, an english style hill (straight up) not a european long slow rise. It's the end of the day and I have to push the bike, not happy!
Gaudis palace on top of the hill next to the cathedral,

Gaudis Palace, Astorga

Both are absolutely amazing, made all the more so by the scruffy little town around them. I first saw the palace across a litter strewn wasteground and a semi collapsed building - from behind and down hill.
Not as pretty and polished as the front with its trees and benches, but a good contrasting viewpoint, and from what I have seen so far, typically Spain.
Free camping again organised by Castille - Leon district specifically for Camineros, these people come from heaven....they even put the tent up for you.
Same cyclists again, 3 spanish lads (19.30) and the two Dutch people, Theo and Jannie (18.00), same miles for all here.



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