When I booked two nights in Leon, I didn’t quite realize that 1) Holy Thursday is kind of like a bacchanal here and 2) the hostel I booked was NOT a typical pilgrims hostel.
I had a nice train ride into the city and walked the mile to my hostel. The streets were full and there was already evidence of a party atmosphere.
I had to backtrack several times, as Google was getting confused with all the narrow streets and alleys. People were everywhere, most holding a glass of wine or beer.
I made my way through the crowd and finally found my place. It seemed nice and the girl at the desk showed me the dorm where I’d be staying. “Just choose any empty bed,” she told me. So I took one in the corner, got my stuff organized and went out to get something to eat and see what was happening. The streets seemed twice as crowded as they had been a hour before.
I found what seemed like a decent restaurant and asked the waitress what she recommended off the menu. “Well,” she said, “if you really want to try something different and from the region, have the manos de cerdo.
I checked the translation; looked like pork with shrimp. Decided to try it. Big mistake. It looked like a stew. Sort of. The flavor was good but it was slimy and slurpy and oily in texture. (I’m still not quite sure what it was…). However, the bread was fresh, the wine was local and the dessert recommended was excellent. (Most expensive meal I’ve had so far. Go figure.)
There was a procession just starting and people were lining the narrow way. Everyone had wine or beer and tapas were being passed around. Soon the drums and brass music began. The floats were pretty impressive. They were physically carried by at least 100 people, all dressed in the traditional costume of the penitent.
Now it was almost 11pm and I made my way back to the hostel. I knew most of the people in my dorm would likely be out very late, but I had my bunk all ready and hung a sheet in front for an illusion of privacy. I was set for the night. Not.
Suffice it to say that the “choose any empty bed” lady was talking out her…ear. I had to move once, two other people had to move as well, I was awakened twice because someone thought I was their friend in that bed, a very drunk and very confused Dutch guy had to be talked into taking a different bed and everyone got annoyed and frustrated.
By 5:00am, I had had enough. I decided “a la mierda esta mierda” (fuck this shit!) grabbed my phone and booked a proper hotel for the next night. I was up and out of the room by 7:00am. I had a word with the guy at the front desk, who profusely apologized and refunded me for a night.
I knew I couldn’t check in so early but I wanted to get out of there, so I figured I’d start walking towards the hotel. And there was an incredible morning procession happening in the main plaza. With 12 different floats, all depicting a scene from the Good Friday story. I didn’t capture them all, and my vantage point wasn’t the best, but they were fantastic.
I made my way to the Cathedral where I sat in view of the procession and had a coffee and croissant. In order to get to my hotel, I had to basically follow Jesus down a narrow street until I got to the door!
And now…finally! I’m in my REAL hotel room with no confused drunk Dutchman looking for his bed. There’s a terrace and real towels. I’ll nap, shower and then have a stroll around the city.