A nice quiet night but Annie's blisters are still bad so we decide on a rest day and so I move my pack to the albergue downstairs in the garden. Neat and clean with a huge bathroom. Since I'm the first one, I bag the little single bed in the alcove under the window. Very nice with sheets and duvet for €10.
We all meet to find breakfast. After lots of wandering we discover the Hotel Los Infantes, where we are warmly welcomed and ushered downstairs to a HUGE breakfast buffet. Our faces must have been a picture - like children seeing a pile of Christmas presents! We tucked in; the nice waiter had a life-calling for frying bacon. So much love and delight!
We had a tourist-day. I ensconced in an elegant cafe to write my blog and then bumped into Christine outside the cathedral, where a splendid wedding was taking place. We enjoyed watching the ladies in their finery and high heels walking on the cobbles and a carriage drawn by a white horse waiting in the street.
For lunch I met up with Christine to test out the local cider which is delicious, but tart and acidic compared to the sweet fizzy drink I'm used to. It's poured from a height or, if you're in a tourist cafe, a funny machine with bellows and a spout. Great fun.
In the afternoon I revisited the cloisters, which were full of French tourists with shouting guides which sadly spoilt the calm; only the blackbird singing his heart out saved the day. I ask the ticket man about the carving on the font; it's Daniel in the Lion's Den. The large Romanesque carving on the wall is Christ Pantocrator.
At 8pm we all went to Mass in the cathedral. It was almost dark inside when we entered in silence; just a little evening sun glimmered through the coloured marble windows. I felt held by the ancient grey stonework all around and the great weight of 1,000 years of prayer.
After a while the servers lit two candles on the altar and the golden reredos suddenly and mysteriously glowed into life.
Mass has a spacious feel; there are no hymn books or bits of paper. Everyone knows the liturgy by heart and it is quietly undramatic. The priest is an elderly refined man who delivers a long impassioned homily; I enjoy the words washing over me.
When I go up to the front, I stand next to the tomb of Santa Juliana for a while. It's a special moment. Her stone effigy is lovely; a smiling angel spreads its wings over her head, she has long flowing hair and her right hand is raised in blessing over her heart. Her left hand holds a rope and she has dainty slippers on her feet; under them, like a pet dog, the demon looks up with the rope around its neck. This is no macho St George dragon-slaying subjugation of a demon but a rather a domestication. Me and the/my demon go for a walk sort of affair. Won at a great price no doubt.
After, we go for a wonder around Jesus Otero's sculpture garden and then find a rather good 'Menu del Dia'. The local pudding is a spiced bread pudding.
Then I'm back to my little bed in the albergue amongst the snoring pilgrims and Christine - who I'm sure doesn't snore!