Castilla y León / León

The unceremonious crossing into the province of León is by way of the bridge over the río Valderaduey

León, tucked into the far northwest corner of Castilla y León, was formed from the old Kingdom of the same name.  The Meseta begins to wind down, and soon the mountain ranges that form its border with Asturias and Galicia will come into sharp focus.

Perhaps the most celebrated aspects of modern León are its culinary achievements. The city of León is a city that turns out to the streets to celebrate food and drink. Sure, they have adopted a passion for the morcilla (blood sausage) from neighboring Burgos, but they perfected their own cecina (a salted, smoked, beef hind leg) to send back over the border. For drink, they turn to the local Bierzo wine (the heartland of which you will walk through soon), and with increasing frequency craft beers whose hops are grown up-river from Hospital de Órbigo. Given the landscape, it should not surprise that the regional favorite is a wheat beer known as Zerep. A puff pastry known as hojaldre, and a sweet bread called mantecadas, as well as a booming chocolate trade can all be found in Astorga.

The Galician mountains are creeping closer now, and by the time you depart Astorga you will begin the ascent.