Travel Notes 05: Medieval

Travel Notes 05 – A series of daily entries about being abroad for 60 days

Leon, Spain

The day has come to farewell Bilbao. It has been a wonderful first city to explore and I am thankful for the experiences and sights it has bestowed to me.

Leaving early in the morning to catch an 8:15am bus to Leon, the station is crowded and a little bit hectic to navigate. Queues for platforms merge into one another, but rudimentary Spanish helps to locate where I need to be.

The bus is late, and I soon discover this form of transportation meanders through as many small towns and narrow roads as it does highway. Nearly six hours later I get to my destination, thankful that I’m on solid ground. I am thankful for the endless fields of yellow we pass along the way, though it’s evidence of a very dry autumn.

Arriving in Leon, I walk down the river and experience a peaceful stroll. Wide walking paths, large playgrounds and basketball courts interspersed with dense trees show me the first glimpse of a city with lovely riverside green space.

Later however, the charm is recalled in full force in the centre of town. Here lies the historical district, a trace of its Blueblood royal heritage, surrounded by large fortified walls hundreds of years old. Cars aren’t allowed and only foot traffic passes through. The centrepiece is the Catedral d Leon, a majestically gothic piece of architecture that evokes parallels to Notre Dame.

Inside, a group of elderly Spanish people coax me into joining a group to buy tickets so we can save a Euro on entrance fees which I smile at and accept without hesitation. The insides of holy sites in Europe are nothing short of grand. The sheer vastness, intricacy and devotion to crafting interiors of such exquisite detail still never fails to amaze me.

A Medieval fair, or to be precise, the Festival of St Frolain is on and many stalls of craftspeople, bakers, entertainers and actors evoking the past are out in force. Full costumes are donned; some shopkeepers are chiseling stone, others are selling middle-age inspired jewellery: others are dressed as warriors. There is even an exhibition where hawks and owls are perched on little platforms, as if they were hunters and messengers from earlier times.

All of the spectacle adds to a delightful atmosphere, and children and adult alike revel in this festival which evokes a retrospective in the time space continuum.

The day finishes with a chocolate donut the size of a small town. Really. It’s as big as a pizza and I don’t finish it until the day after next.

Notes from Friday, 7 October, 2016