My first impression of Leon was that it felt like a big city..while cycling in I was in industrial estates from about 10km out. But the actual centre does not actually feel that big. It actually has a cozy feel to it, and it is a very relaxing place to be. I am not really sure why but it is. You couldn't really get more differnet to Zamora. Sitting in the cathedral plaza, loads of little kids just finished school all hanging out here with there parents..skipping and playing. There is of course the ubiquitous maze of shopping streets and bars..but these feel different..they are wider back streets and it generally has much more of a forward thinking feel. There also isn't an overload of sights to see, so you can enjoy what there is and then spend the rest of the time taking in the atmosphere and the people, or watching the world go by. It just seems a city that runs at a good pace.
The main sight is the cathedral Outside is sandstone and there are towers, Gothic turrets, and numerous arches. Even the windows look dark and brown. Inside is a very dark, simple structure. But then you see the immense stain glass windows that adorn all aspects of the cathedral. The gothic arches allow for huge walls to be replaced by this glass. It was even built with this use of light in mind..it faces east to catch the morning sun, and all the windows are coloured in a way that reflects the amount of light that hits it..on those that get a lot of sun, bright colours, on those that don't, lots of blues that glow by themselves. The effect is quite stunning. You cannot turn without seeing more iredescent lights. The philosophy behind this cathedral was that stone and lights bring you closer to god. And they very much went to the extreme on the latter.
I spent some of the afternoon just sitting in the cathedral plaza watching the world go by with my new fave treat..yoghurt ice cream and strawberries. It was about 3pm so very few people about, so people watching wasn't at its best. But there was entertainment from the local bird of prey that was soaring above the cathedral. Deciding it liked the look of a jackdaw it swooped after it and chased it round the towers and off behind the building..in an almost comical turn of events the next thing I saw was the eagle legging it away from the cathedral with a magpie pecking at its heals! All the while the pigeons, obviously not wanting to be anywhere near in the vicinity of the eagle, darted quickly in the opposite direction of where ever he was and back and forth.
There is also a British bar! The first I have ever seen, and was tempted to go in to see what actually makes a British bar British as I really have no idea.
Another thing I have noticed here and in the last few cities is that they love their fixies (fixed gear bicycle). The bike shops have awesome ones in their windows, and the cyclist in the know, ride around on some mightly fine looking examples. I was jelous. I am so getting a fixie when I get home....n+1= number of bikes owned and all that...