Arlene Reich Temple in Spain

Lazy Saturdays in Leon

: I took a day trip to Leon, a city located in the region Castilla-Leon.  It is accessible from Oviedo using the Renfe train system, which snakes throughout Spain.  The three-hour train ride as opposed to the two-hour bus ride offered a better view of the Spanish countryside and the slow transition from the lush green mountains and valleys of Asturias to the dry plains that make up Castilla-Leon.  Moreso, there was more spacious seating arrangements and less motion sickness.  The difference in climate between Asturias and Castilla-Leon is stark—it is as though crossing through the tunnel between the regions dividing lines also acts as a barrier against the rainclouds that characterize the Asturian skies.  The city layout itself did not differ much from other typical Spanish cities.  Split by a small river, it is a small city that is also completely contained and traversable by foot.  Centered is the University of Leon, a large operational university that draws in students from across the northwest sector of Spain.  This means that there is an abundance of the university-aged demographic, as opposed to the more elderly population of Asturias.  Otherwise, the people appeared to be of the typical Spanish mold in features and personal style.  Stone walls constructed in the time of the Roman settlement also appear sporadically along the sidewalks.  We spent much of the day in Casco Antiguo, the part of the city with preserved architecture and cobblestone streets.  Its most visited attraction is perhaps its cathedral, though frankly, after having seen so many European cathedrals over the past semester, I am unable to appreciate it to its full extent (particularly after the Sagrada Familia).  The Santa Maria de Leon is a Gothic style Cathedral completed in the 16th century after 200 years of construction.  Its spires can be seen from most points of the city.  It has two main towers with walls lined by gargoyles and steeples.  Cathedral Leon is also famous for its tapas, which unlike many other Spanish cities, are offered for free after the patron orders a drink.  Before jumping back on the train, we visited the local Jamon Jamon, nestled in an alley of Casco Antiguo, which offered ham and cheese of Castilla-Leon with your cana or glass of wine.  Also a popular destination for bachelor parties, groups of costumed men crawled Casco Antiguo in wigs and dresses, matching fluorescent shirts, and other indicators of their brotherhood.  Hopping on the 9:00 bus back to Oviedo, we arrived by 10:30.


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