It´s no secret that I´m sweet on León, Spain. The city was my first Spanish home and continues to hold an allure for me. Finally, this past weekend I was able to share my home-away-from-home with Andres. As we walked along the streets I pointed out landmarks–Guadí designed that!–as well as stories that could not come from any guidebook.
There was Librería Pastor, where an extra novel was slipped into my bag when the owner discovered I was learning Spanish. There was Calle de la Rúa, a narrow, cobblestone-lined street that I used to take daily on my path to the language school. Then and now, the window displays of the specialty stores–with their passion for local products, hats, baked goods, and wedding dresses–are refashioned weekly. There was the main street, Calle Ancha, that bustling thoroughfare where locals strolled in their toniest outfits. There! I´d point out, signaling to a store or building or plaza. That was where X happened.
We met up with my friend Bea for tapas in the Barrio Húmedo, where the city’s bars are concentrated. The atmosphere was even more electrified than I´d remembered it–this was due, of course, to the fact that Spain was playing in the World Cup that night. The Plaza Mayor was the busiest I´d ever seen it, TVs were set up around Plaza San Martín, and the only bars with elbow room were the ones sans football.
As we snaked along through the historic heart of the city on a buzzing Friday night, Andres snapped the following shots. Dusk was falling, the shouts of football fans rang out, and I was in a town where I needed neither map nor compass. I was the guide, yet I was the guest, a combination that seems strange in writing but in actuality felt just like it should.
León’s Plaza Mayor
In the cathedral square
León at dusk
World Cup madness (people kept their necks to watch the game)
Tapeando with friends
Plaza San Martín, the heart of the Húmedo
Reviewing Andres’ photos of the city, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. It was great to see the city through new eyes, as well as reminisce about my time there as a student. Somehow, even within two cameras between us, Andres and I didn’t manage to get a photo of us together. I guess we’ll just have to go back to León again to make that happen!