Our next stop is Leon and that means we are saying goodbye to the Meseta after being on it for 14 days! Most people blow through it in seven days and complain that it was too long and boring. But not us — we doubled down on the dare. It’s very exciting at first to see all the sunflower fields, the big skies, the wheat fields and the beautiful color palette. But after a week of it, the excitement fades and the walking did become a challenge.
THE BEST OF THE MESETA
The Ruins at San Anton and the Castle at Castrojarez.
Walking into the ruins of San Anton was amazing. These gigantic structures were dramatic and emotionally very moving. They are in the middle of nowhere before Castrojarez. To think of the history and how the niches in the walls where they left food for the poor. Now in its deteriorated state, it is somewhat mystical and even a bit haunting.
Castrojarez with the Hilltop Castle Ruins
This is an amazing town with a lot to see. I would have loved to explore the castle ruins but it was a steep climb, we were tired and it was hot. it would have been nice to have another day here. None-the-less, it was an amazing view.
Villementero de Campos –– Animal Farm
We loved this place for its creative vibe, unique offerings and the locals who came and sang at night. The dinner made by Marcello was the best of gourmet, fresh food, healthy and local. Our global companions who joined us for dinner kept the conversation lively with talk about everything from Ricky Rubio to Camino adventures and the Meseta.
The Sahagun Monastery
The Monastery was very welcoming and we felt at home especially when they gave us a private room and a private bathroom. Nice location. It was a very quiet and peaceful environment.
This place was such a dive but it rocked. The music, the ambiance and the people were incredible. Graffiti by people from all over the world covered every square inch. It was a party and we felt like invited guests.
A Morning with Caesar and Jenneke
Best breakfast ever with a very accommodating host — Caesar, and the best conversation with a total stranger who instantly became a ‘best friend ever’ –– Jenneke. It’s always inspirational to meet amazing people and Caesar and Jenneke take top honors.
Best Bike Rental — BIKENBABIA
The Meseta had a lot of bike traffic and being so flat and long, it was the perfect place for biking. After several miles and a few days of walking my legs begged me for a bicycle. On a whim, I started scouring the internet for a bike rental with no luck. Some places didn’t survive the Covid year and were no longer in business. Some didn’t speak English and some didn’t want to be bothered. I
I started asking around and someone told me to contact Bikenbabia. So I did … and lucky for me, they have a representative who communicates in English. Most of our text messages were done on ‘Whats App’. I was thrilled to be able to rent an e-bike. For those who are unfamiliar with e-bikes, it’s not a moped … you still have to pedal and shift gears. It assists with the pedaling and there is much less strain on the knees when going uphill. Perfect!
Bikenbabia’s service was outstanding. With a day’s notice, Jose and Mari delivered the bike to my hotel in Castrojarez. In addition to the bike, they showed me where everything was and how it worked. There was a spare tire, a small pump, a can of fix-a-flat, a tool set, a battery charger which were all stored in a pannier. They even included a water bottle. I took a short test drive and it made my legs very happy.
As with most walkers, pace is everything. Theresa and I rarely walk together. She is a very fast walker and I am a very slow walker. So renting a bike didn’t disrupt out routine except that I would fly by and reach the next destination first.
It was such a joy to ride this e-bike and it was perfect for the long miles of wheat fields. The only downside for me was that I rarely stopped to take photos, not that there was much to photograph. Even in the rain, I loved being on a bike rather than walking.
I had planned to ride the bike all the way to the end of the Camino (Leon) but changed direction when Therese decided that she had enough walking. There was an 11 mile stretch after Carrion and Theresa said it was time for a cab. I contacted Bikenbabia and asked if I could shorten my rental and have the bike picked up in Carrion instead of Leon. They were very accommodating. The next day, Jose met us at a coffee shop in Carrion and picked the bike up there.
The other thing I liked about Bikenbabia was that they took PayPal for the deposit. I paid cash for the rental itself but could have used PayPal. When I asked to return the bike early, they were very accommodating and refunded a portion of the rental fee. I think they were very fair.
And one more star for Bikenbabia … they service the entire Frances Camino. So if you would like to do the Frances but don’t have a month, you might want to consider doing it by bike or doing part of it by bike. I would recommend contacting them by email (www.Bikenbabia.com) and giving them plenty of notice. They have a variety of bikes and they know the terrain of the Camino. My e-bike had shock absorbers. It was an awesome experience and it exceeded my expectations.
THE WORST OF THE MESETA
The Hill From Hell
Shortly after Castrojarez, there is a very steep hill –– Alto de Mostyelares is the hill that can be seen off in the distance. It was full sun and hot that day but I don’t think that would have mattered. This hill was steep with no switchbacks. Going down was not fun either …. it had an 18% grade, was very steep and there were no switchbacks.
It was a long two weeks but I don’t think I would have done anything differently. Each town or village had something special that made it worth a visit. It’s all a learning experience — culture, cuisine, history, agriculture, geography, language and humanity. If you’re walking Camino Frances, do at least part of The Meseta … it is a part of Spain that should not be skipped.
NEXT STOP … is Leon followed by a couple days on Camino Ingles so Theresa can finish her walk that was interrupted by an accident in 2019.
STAY TUNED! We purchased one-way tickets to Mallorca for $17. See what a $17 ticket on Ryan air buys … a seat on the wing?