Goodbye Meseta!

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 latter days of the Meseta looked like this. Oftentimes the path followed the highway.
If you weren’t paying attention you would think you were in South Dakota.


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.

Thought provoking art work lurking everywhere.
The best of home cooking and local cuisine along with interesting dinner companions.
Where else could you sleep in a tube?
Enjoyed the local ambiance and folk songs.

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.

The Marist brothers at the Santa Cruz Monastery were very welcoming and their hospitality was gracious and genuine.
The street entrance to the Monastery.
Alexandro was from Madrid, spoke very good English and was very welcoming.

Bar Elvis

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.

Bar Elvis had a lotta character and good energy even though it looked like it should be condemned.
More instant friends on the Camino.

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.

Jenneke and Caesar made our day!

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.

I would highly recommend Bikenbabia for Camino bike rental.

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 ( 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.

For bike rentals on the Camino Frances, contact Bikenbabia!


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?


We were packed up and leaving El Burgo Renaro around 8:00 am and the moon was just rising. What a beautiful sky and it was the perfect view from all of the public exercise equipment.

Next stop is Reliegos — land of the bodegas which are wine cellars built into hillsides. Some also function as taverns that serves primarily wine.

A bodega on the Main Street of Reliegos.
This sign marks the meteor site.

The claim to fame for Reliegos is being struck by a meteor in 1947. The 38-lb meteor is on display in the natural science museum in Madrid but the site is well marked on the Main Street of Reliegos.

A metal plaque in the street marks the place where the meteor hit.
Albergue Las Hadras is where we stayed.

Once again, we saw Las Hadras turn away quite a few people. It’s a small albergue that had a good vibe.

We had a bunk tucked away in a small alcove. Fortunately, this is the only time we (Theresa) got stuck with a top bunk. Because of covid, top bunks usually were left open.
This albergue did serve Vegan meals. The back yard of the albergue had a patio and some landscaping.
Very interesting … take a closer look!
It’s a packer cap on a pole. We think it came with the meteor. Go Pack Go!
On our walk through town we found only a couple restaurants and they were open only in the afternoon and early evening. Sorry … no coffee anywhere in the morning. We filled up on Calamari and vino tinto.
We walked by a hillside filled with bodegas.
Somebody had their onions displayed on the sidewalk.
The dark sky looked threatening all day.
The tour of bodegas …
In this small town, I’m thinking the bodegas must have been a family run operation.
This is Bar Elvis. We were told it was the town hotspot.
… And it was. Our new friends we met at Bar Elvis … Peter and Annette from Minnetonka! Annette just retired as an elementary teacher from Wayzata and Peter is a civil engineer. Behind Annette is Tara from Toronto, Jasmine from Zurich, (Theresa) and Chuck from Oregon.
It is mind boggling to be so far away from home and to meet people who live so close to home.

El Burgo Renaro

The monastery halls were quiet and it was a peaceful night’s sleep. Before we moved on, the Brothers had breakfast food set up in the dining room.

A quiet hall at the monastery.
A variety of bread, meat, cheese, fruit, yogurt and hard boiled eggs as well as coffee & tea were available for guests.

Our next stop was El Burgo Renero which was a wool producing town, the biggest business of Castila during the Middle Ages. Huge flocks of sheep, up to 40,000 were tended. They grazed in the mountains in the summer while the Meseta fields were occupied with wheat.

Back to small town life in El Burgo Renero, population of about 800. This is our albergue for tonight.

The town had a church that seemed to have a Mexican flare to its architecture.

More stork nests on the bell tower.

We were impressed with the community exercise equipment. There were about a dozen pieces of equipment outdoors, facing a field. We tried them all and it was a nice little workout circuit. Our albergue owner said the locals use the equipment in the winter when they aren’t out in their fields.

This unit was similar to an elliptical. Impressive equipment — every neighborhood should have this.

Somebody “yarn bombed” the whole town. Most of the trees were covered with knitting. There were little yarn pompoms on almost every door. This might have been somebody’s quarantine project. Very charming and gave the town a nice cozy feel.

Yarn bombed tree.

The tidy little town was very quiet during the day. The only noise came when a tractor or farm equipment rumbled through town. Not much car traffic.

As in many villages, Covid helped close down the little grocery stores. In this town, a grocery store on wheels came through and would park for a while and then move a few blocks away and stop. There probably was a time schedule. People would come down and do their shopping.

The grocery store on wheels helped fill in for the missing stores.
The mobile grocery store sold a variety of items, everything from bread to cleaning supplies..
We found a sunny little oasis for lunch.

We were going to be adventuresome today and try something on the menu even though we had no idea what it was. We discovered Morcilla de Burgos. It was very tasty but had a flavor we couldn’t identify. We asked the waitress what was in it and she said a lot of onions. We had this delicacy a few more times until I started researching it. I discovered it was “black pudding” which is another name for blood pudding. No wonder we couldn’t identify the taste! The “Burgos” version had a lot of onions in it. The morcilla de Leon had a bit of a different flavor. We’re glad we tried it but don’t think we’ll be ordering it again.

We had a dinner guest …
… and he brought the whole family.

Back at the Albergue … there was a lovely grass area with reclining lawn chairs and palapa huts for shade. Almost made me forget I was in the middle of farm land. They also had an outstanding laundry facility and lots of clothesline. It was a good day for doing laundry.


Sunday, September 19, 2021: This town is a little bigger than the previous few with a population of 2800. It contains some of the earliest examples of Mudejar architecture.

The city thrived with a diverse population including Muslims and Jews. Sahagun’s historic architecture illustrates the Romanesque-Mudejar style, which incorporated Islamic decorative motifs and was built primarily out of brick rather than stone.

We arrived early and found a nice coffee shop with good WIFI.

We stayed at a monastery called Santa Cruz. Brother Ivan from England welcomed us and the hospitalaro, Alexandro, showed us around and made us feel welcome.

Alejandro was very welcoming, helpful and a good English speaker.
The Santa Cruz monastery in Sahagun is run by Marist Fathers and Brothers, a congregation born in France in 1836.
This is the little chapel at the Monastery where they had a non-denominational pilgrim’s mass.

This is definitely a sign of Covid times … the holy water font is empty and it has a bottle of hand sanitizer in it.

We were so fortunate … we had our own room.

,,, with a private bathroom and we were on the first floor. The cost was “donativo”.

The arch of San Benito was originally the door to the church but now it is a main thoroughfare into the town. It was part of the Royal Monastery of San Benito which was destroyed in 1835.

The remains of San Benito monastery.
Time for lunch. We went to a nearby restaurant., Los Argos Perrilla.
Los Argos Parrilla had big meat on display.
The house salad was amazing.
We split a popular item, the house barbecue, which included a variety of grilled meat which was muy delicioso but way too much for us to finish.

The town had lots of interesting artwork.

Sahagun was a delightful little town … glad that we didn’t skip it.

Terradillos de Los Templarios

Saturday, September 18, 2021: Slow start today. It’s 7:00 am and dark out. Time to roll up the sleeping bag and load the backpack. This daily routine is getting old. I wonder how small the next town is going to be and if there’s any way to skip it. The days were becoming repetitious with fields that are endless and a big sky that is too big. Worst of all, there was nothing to see along the way. I would be so happy if there were some good ruins, an old church, a cemetery, a herd of sheep or even an irrigation canal. There was nothing but fields of sunflowers, fields of wheat, a few corn fields and some empty ones. Theresa and I are now in Taxi mode.

We were the last to leave today. We walked to the town’s only restaurant for coffee and to figure out how to find a taxi in such an isolated rural farm area.

In the reception area before entering the restaurant, I saw something unusual — several suitcases waiting to be transported to their next location. What’s unusual is that some people who are walking the Camino are opting to bring a suitcase instead of a backpack. There are courier services on the Camino that will transport backpacks, suitcases or other parcels to your next Camino stop. It costs about $5 a day and for many who don’t want to carry a backpack, it’s a great option.

Having a suitcase instead of a backpack is another good option. It probably holds more than a backpack and one wouldn’t need to be too concerned about its weight. I’ve heard of people breaking the handle off their toothbrush to save a fraction of an ounce on their backpack load. The suitcase option may make walking the Camino appealing to more people.

As we settled in with our coffee, we watched the room empty as walkers made their way out the door and down the road. A backpacked young woman entered the restaurant and sat at a table near us. Since we had already made up our minds to boycott walking today, we had nothing better to do so we struck up a conversation. Jenneke from Holland became an instant friend. She had just taken a cab from her last stop and was in desperate need of a rest day.

The man running the restaurant, Caesar, waited on our every whim. We didn’t order from the menu, we just asked for things. Jenneke wanted a fruit plate which reminded me how much I like that honey-dew melon and Theresa was in the mood for ham and eggs which I thought was a good idea too. And Caesar did not disappoint.

Jenneke, Caesar and Theresa

It’s amazing how we connected with Jenneke. I think it was because she is so genuine. We talked for hours about so many things. She is a fascinating person. The morning went by so fast. It was hard saying goodbye but we needed to get moving.

We asked Caesar to call us a taxi. His response in Spanish was something about a taxi being too expensive. Next thing we know, he’s loading us into his car and was going to drive us to our next stop. That is how life on the Camino happens. We did pay him but I’m sure it was far less than what a taxi would have cost.

Our next albergue –– Jacques de Molay

Jacques de Molay is the name of the albergue in Terradillos. This village seems to be planted in the middle of farmland with a bit of industrial sites along the highway. In addition, there was a little church that was locked, a small playground and three or four streets with various housing. Behind the albergue was a little park with picnic tables.

No pool today but there was a beautiful patio with a landscaped lawn area.
The outer wall of the hotel had a very large and shiney sign with an image of Jacques de Molay. He must have been somebody’s hero.

So who was Jacques de Molay and why was he so important that they named an albergue after him in the middle of nowhere? I did a little research and he was the last grand master of the Knights Templar. The order was dissolved in 1312 by Pope Clement V. Little is known of his actual life and deeds except for his least years as Grand Master, he is one of the best known Templars.

While most historians agree that the Knights Templar fully disbanded 700 years ago, there are some people who believe the order went underground and remains in existence in some form to this day.

The Order and its members increasingly appear in modern fiction, though most of these references portray the medieval organization inaccurately. In modern works, the Templars generally are portrayed as villains, misguided zealots, representatives of an evil secret society, or as the keepers of a long-lost treasure.*

We took a tour of the town which took less than ten minutes. I’m always fascinated with the dwellings made from mud and straw.

There are always a few newer homes and then some very old deteriorated, unliveable mud and straw dwellings.
The albergue’s restaurant was the only one in town.

The garden patio, restaurant and bar were an oasis that made the day a lot more interesting. The restaurant had charming and interesting bits of history and culture decorating the walls. We were fortunate to reserve a private room in advance. They started turning away walkers around noon.

We had the “menu del dia” –– meal of the day. Theresa was adventuresome and went for the Inky Squid which she said was very good and better than the Inky Squid in Pamplona.

We crossed another day off the calendar and only four more nights remaining in The Meseta.

* Information taken from; Wikipedia;

Calzadilla de la Cueza

September 17, 2021: Another isolated village in the middle of nowhere with a population of 54. There was a lot of tractor traffic and not many cars. We were surrounded by sunflower fields everywhere.

The view of Calzadilla from a distance.

There were two places to stay in town and both were sold out. Because of the reduced capacity due to covid, several without a reservation were turned away.

This is the part of the Meseta where those walking it are asking themselves, “Why am I walking this?” The miles of fields become monotonous and the days drag by. Several of the coffee shop/bars didn’t survive covid as well as a few albergues. There was an 11 mile stretch between this town and the previous one. To walk all that way in the sun and then find out there is no place to stay and you need to walk another 6-7 miles can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Fields and fields of sunflowers.
This is the view from my 2nd floor window … a tractor coming down the road. And the farmer waved at me when he went by.
A sunny day and a pool in the middle of farm country.

This albergue had a laundry facility with washers and dryers as well as a grassy lawn area with a pool. It was a good day to catch up on laundry.

Touring the town … not much to see.
This deteriorated dwelling was made of mud and straw.
Four guys playing boche ball with rocks in a field. I don’t think they were locals.
What’s for dinner tonight? Mushroom risotto and pork loin with potatoes.

We have the feeling that albergues were owned by the same family with one shutting down their bar and restaurant so both could conserve resources.

The other albergue at the opposite end of the street had a bar and restaurant.

Sunset is around 8:00 pm. After being outside in the hot sun and walking for miles, no one complains about going to bed early.

Carrión de Los Condes

Thursday, September 16, 2021: In the Middle Ages, Carrión was a wealthy and important town with as many as 10,000 citizens. According to legend, Charlemagne camped here in his campaign against the Moors, who had succeeded in building a castle in Carrión in the 8th century.

Carrion’s population is about 2,200. There are several monasteries that also function as Albergues. We stayed at Espiritus Santo which is run by nuns. Having attended a Catholic grade school, high school and college, I had plenty of encounters with the Sisters. I expected everything to be run strictly and in order –– and it was.

This is the church connected to Espiritus Santos. We walked the circumference of the building and could not find an entrance. The Sisters must have a secret door hidden somewhere.
Doors do not open until 11:00 am sharp. In the courtyard by the office entrance, backpacks were lined up neatly as we waited our turn to enter.
Lucky me … I got the corner bed with a big window.

We had to wait in line until the Sister in charge was good and ready to deal with us. It was a slow process. Not only did we need to show our vaccination cards but they also took our temperature. Then they processed us, recorded our passport information and took our “donation.” Then we given a brief tour and shown to our rooms

This is one of the dormitories at the albergue. It kind of looks like a classroom.

The nuns don’t do bunk beds. They would pop in frequently to check on things. Lights out at 10:00 pm and they made sure of that. A couple of nuns came up to turn the lights off personally. In the morning, everyone is eager to start walking. Some people get up as early as 4:00 am. Everyone has to be out by 8:00 am.

We wandered around town. The church of Santa Maria del Camino was part of a three city art exhibit called Lux.

The cities of Burgos, Carrión de los Condes and Sahagún are hosting the 25th edition of the Lux exhibit. The objective is to teach people about the sacred art found in the countless churches in the provinces of Castile and Leon. The title “Lux” refers to the characteristic light of gothic cathedrals, famous for their impressive stained glass windows. The different landmarks hosting the event represent different architectural styles, such as Romanesque, mudéjar and gothic.

This nearby old church is falling apart and it looks as if they structurally reinforced the facade which is home to three stork nests. These nests are at least as big as eagle nests. We got up close and it’s mind boggling to see the size of these nests.

The storks nests are the only reason these church walls are still standing.
Coffee shop chit chat with a gent from Ireland.

Even though it is relatively small, Carrion is one of the larger cities and now it seems like the wheat fields are getting bigger and the distances are getting further. It’s time for a taxi.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021: It rained all day yesterday and into the night. Today the air was fresh and the sky was cloudy which isn’t so bad — there’s no shade here so cool and cloudy is ok. Today’s distance is only about 6-7 miles so it will be an easy quick day.

I reached Villamentero and not to my surprise it’s in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by fields of wheat. Villamentero has a population of 11.

Amanecer is the name of the albergue we are staying at and it is surrounded by green bush trees with an opening that reveals a wonderland of sorts.

Enter into the nirvana oasis of Villamentero complete with baroque music (until 10:00 am) followed by the Macarena and other lively hits.

The man who runs the place, Marcello, has created his own reality … a combination of art, music, animals, and an array of creative places to sleep. Everybody who walked by stopped in for coffee, a beer or a bocadillo. It was very inviting and welcoming environment.

We renamed this place “Animal Farm” because we were surrounded by animals and farmland. Donkey’s, sheep, geese, chickens, cats, dogs, birds and more. It was a nice (crazy) change of pace.

Casetas which have two beds cost about $30 per night.

Many options were offered in addition to beds. There were cute little Casetas (cabin) for two.

Very cute and cozy on the inside. I wonder if he charged extra for a light bulb for the lamp?
Would you like to sleep in a concrete tube? It’s kind of like a culvert.

Sleep in a concrete tube?? What??? Looking at it through American eyes we thought this was just crazy. However, our friend Kate from Australia informed us that during hot summer days, a concrete tube is a very cool place to sleep — literally. There is no air conditioning anywhere, so that might be a good option. Marcello also offered teepees, tents and hammocks. We opted for the usual bunk beds.

In this town of 11, there isn’t a lot of sightseeing to be done in its half dozen streets. There is another Hostal in town so we wandered over there for a drink in the hot afternoon sun. It was a little more elite and had a swimming pool. They spruced up the patio with pots of flowers but you could still see the old barns and farm equipment off in the background.

Hot sun, a pleasant patio and refreshing drinks by the pool.
It’s hard to hide the fact that we were in a small rural farming town.
I dared Theresa to sit in this little ornamental concrete chair.
And of course she accepted the challenge. This is how you entertain yourself when you are surrounded by farmland in a town with a handful of buildings in the middle of nowhere.
Church of San Martin de Tours served a town of 11 residents.

Next, we wandered over to the church that sat on a small mound of a hill. An abandoned tractor missing its tires sat in the church yard which was a patch of dry grass that badly needed rain. We did not think that a town of 11 people would have a functioning church and it certainly would be locked. Wrong! The church was open and their was a woman attending it.

The ceiling featured a Mudejar style art which is a type of ornamentation used in the Iberian Christian kingdoms, primarily between the 13th and 16th centuries.

Mudejar art was typically done by Muslims living under a Christian King. The Mudejar builders were Muslim artisans who were permitted to stay and were employed to build the new churches and palaces in the reconquered territories.

Each resident could have their own pew.

We were impressed with the beauty of this humble little church. It makes me wonder how a village with such a small population can keep a church open. Well … in Spain there is no separation between church and state. Some funding probably comes from the state to help keep this historic site open. The majority of the churches are Catholic and they all contain interesting and beautiful artwork and sculptures … Spanish splendors!

Back at Animal Farm. The grey geese were always watching us.

Marcello was making a feast for the half dozen guests staying overnight. Most of the Peregrinos continue walking to the next town, Carrión, which is much bigger and offers an array of accommodations.

Dinner was amazing! A beautiful salad followed by five or six different local dishes. The platters were rotating around the table and the wine was flowing. Marcello is a man of many talents.

Sitting next to me is Inessa from Russia, Gabrielle from Paris, Antonio and Juan from Barcelona and at the end which can’t be seen are Theresa and Michael from Ireland. Everyone spoke some English and we tried to say a few things in Spanish. It was a lovely dinner.
Antonio and Juan from Barcelona … when they heard we were from Minnesota they were excited and I knew why … Ricky Rubio!

When you cross paths with English speaking Spaniards, the magic words are Ricky Rubio. Even though he no longer plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, they like to associate him with his Minnesota years.

Rubio is a rock star with the Spanish because he became the youngest player ever to play in the Spanish ACB league at the age of 14 in 2005. In 2009 he was drafted with the fifth pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA draft by the Timberwolves making him the first player born in the 1990s to be drafted by the NBA. Currently he plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If you want to strike up a conversation with Spaniards, it pays to know Ricky Rubio history and to be from Minnesota.

For desert, melon was served. This was a sweet type of honeydew-like melon. Very flavorful … muy delicioso!
Some of the locals came by after supper. We enjoyed listening to them as they took turns playing instruments and singing.

The stars were out and it was very pleasant to listen to guitar strumming and local folk music. A nice way to end the day.


Fromista had been a breadbasket farm area since Celtic times until being destroyed by the Moors and later rebuilt in the 12th century. In spite of being a successful market town in the 15th century, the town declined until a revival in 1773 when the canal brought water and again allowed agriculture to thrive.

Rain, rain, rain. Nothing but dark clouds, precipitation, mud and more mud.

Welcome to Fromista!

By the time I reached Fromista, I was thoroughly drenched and full of mud. Time for coffee.

Mud and rocks for hours.

Off in the distance is Boadilla del Camino a town that was fortified in medieval times. Independence was granted in the 15th century and they were allowed to publicly torture and hang their own criminals.

The Canal de Castilla

The Canal de Castilla was built from 1753-1859, covering about 130 miles. The canal was used for ships that were pulled by mules on tow paths. Today the canals are used to irrigate agricultural fields.

The Turismo office is located above the canal. Looks like the canal wall has sprung a few leaks.

Not sure, but his might be some type of lock and dam device.

There are three churches in Fromista. This is the church of San Pedro.

Fancy bottled water served at one of the restaurants.
The Camino trail followed the highway — not as interesting.

More rain the next day. We were eager to move on. Our next stop is Villamentero de Campos … you won’t believe where we stayed — or maybe you will.

Shout out to Jenny & Chris at Skads Travel!

It’s WEDNESDAY! Chris and Jenny are my favorite co-workers and I miss our Wednesday morning “staff” meetings. Wish you guys were here! I’m way over in Reliegos, Spain … Last night Theresa and I walked down the street to Bar Elvis where we met a nice couple from Minnetonka, Minnesota of all places!! It’s a small world!

Peter and Annette from Minnetonka! Annette just retired as an elementary teacher from Wayzata. Behind Annette is Tara from Toronto, Jasmine from Zurich, (Theresa) and Chuck from Oregon.

WHAT’S UP WITH THE LOW AIRFARES TO HAWAII?? Every now and then I check my emails and have been seeing really low airfares especially to Hawaii. If I weren’t in Spain right now I’d be on a plane to Hawaii. However, my source does say there is a, “fare war to Hawaii through December BOOK ASAP! The state of Hawaii has requested tourists stay home until November. No testing is required for vaccinated travelers.” WOWZA!

I can’t wait to get back to the office so I can find out what you guys are hearing about low airfares. As you well know, Hawaii is pretty high on my bucket list.

Today’s discovery! I don’t know what this is but it has a lot of carmelized onion and it is mui delicioso! We’ve left the province of Castile and have entered Leon which has new cuisine to explore.

Time to hit the road again! Just wanted to take a few minutes to say Hola to mi amigas Chris y Jenny at Skad’s Travel. A big hello to Will & Kathy too!

Buen Camino from Juana en España!

Itero de Vega

Monday, September 13, 2021: The plains of the Meseta were flat and easy to walk … until today. It was another hot sunny day and the trail started out flat but off in the distance I could see a pathway going up a large and steep looking hill. Surely that was not our route.

Alto de Mostyelares is the hill that can be seen off in the distance. I had assumed the road would go around it, not over it. No such luck.
Look carefully and you can see a diagonal path going across the hill. That was our route. It instilled dread just looking at it from a distance.

This hill was a nightmare. Walking it in full sun with no shade and it was a fairly warm day. Very few places to stop and catch your breath. When we walked the entire 500 miles of the Camino Frances in 2017, I don’t remember anything this traumatic.

Saw this marker half way up the hill. Wouldn’t surprise me if someone died trying to walk up this thing.
Theresa forges up the hill — time for a rest.
There were several monuments at the top.
There was a nice shelter at the top and a little picnic area shaded by a tree.
What goes up must go down at an 18% grade. On the middle left of photo you can see where it looks like the road abruptly ends. You cannot see the steep drop down the hill. There were no switchbacks either … just straight down. Very difficult to walk down.
Onward to Itero de Vega. Grateful for a flat trail.
Welcome to the Muni at Itero. Population of Itero de Vega is about 177. Not much else to see in this town but didn’t have the energy anyway.
We had a delightful dinner with the United Nations here … (from right to left) Bernard, an Inn owner from Munich, (Jane), William and his father Colm from Dublin Ireland, (Theresa) and Hi from Paris originally Vietnam. Everyone spoke English. We solved all the problems of the world and more!
Colm was modeling his stylish rain gear.

Next stop is Fromista which is about 7 miles away. It had been the breadbasket of the farming area since Celtic times until being destroyed by the Moors and later rebuilt in the 12th century. Buen Camino!


Sunday, September 12, 2021: This is one of my favorite walks so far! We started packing up around 6:30 am when it was still dark out. We started walking a little before 8:00 am when the sun was just starting to come up.

It’s always exciting to see what’s around the next bend.
There was a tower standing in the middle of nowhere … Ruins?
Monasterio de San Anton: This massive 14th century ruin with the ornate arch going over the road was very dramatic and a bit overwhelming. It made you think, ‘What was this?’ And ‘why or how was it destroyed?’

So the story goes … the road to Castrojarez leads to the ruins of a church complex started by the Order of St. Anthony, a 11th-century order of nuns dedicated to the 3rd century Egyptian hermit whose relics it held. A man brought his daughter to the relics and she was healed of a particularly pernicious disease reminiscent of leprosy. This disease became known as St. Anthony’s Fire, which caused a terrible burning feeling, loss of circulation and eventually gangrene. This disease was in fact like ergotism, caused by a fungus that grows on rye bread. The order developed a reputation for healing this disease, though serendipitously, pilgrimage was an excellent antidote to the disease a vigorous exercise and plenty of wine helped to overcome it. Hiking the Camino de Santiago by Anna Dintaman and David Landis.

The ruins were privately owned and inaccessible to everyone until 2002 when an entrepreneur decided to commit himself to a project of creating a refuge for those walking the Camino. For almost a year he shared his ideas with the owner and they wrote a formal contract leasing the ruins for 35 years. The commitment was to create a hostel for pilgrims walking the Camino and to consolidate and restore these ruins. A lot of effort was used to clean up the shambles and make it useable.

Mendizabal is the new name … now you can stay there! It’s rustic, mystical, haunting and not for everyone. I would love to see it lit up with candles at night (there is no electricity) but don’t think I could stay here. It’s a bit too eerie for me especially when thinking about all the history that happened here.

When walking through the ruins, you see little alcoves filled with big drippy candles and many slips of paper with hand-written prayer intentions. In the Middle Ages, these alcoves were where nuns left food for the poor. Now, three sheds have been set up to receive, stay and dine in with another as a bedroom with six bunk beds donated by the Spanish army and another shed that serves as a restroom.

Since 2002, the ruins are open from May to September. In those years they have welcomed more than 15,000 Camino walkers (also called Pilgrims) even though they only have 12 beds. They offer everyone who stays overnight a bed, dinner and breakfast and charge absolutely nothing. They maintain the site based on the donations freely left by pilgrims and visitors. Every year, they explain the history of the convent and the Antonians to more than 20,000 visitors. It is a fascinating place to explore however, even though the space was sacred at one time, the energy is now sad and dormant.

This must have been an amazing structure in its day. It is about 3-stories tall with a blue sky that doesn’t quit.
The entrance to the Albergue is on the right.
The ruins of San Anton were definitely worth the walk.
First coffee stop of the day … at the outskirts of Castrojarez.
This is they first church of many in Castrojarez.
Impressive 13th Century Gothic Church of Santa Maria del Manzano in Castrojarez.

Legend has it that’s Mary appeared to St. James from an apple tree and he was so startled that his horse reared up and came down heavily, leaving hoof prints in the stone outside. We did not see any hoof prints.

In Spain there is no separation of church and state. Maria del Manzano is also used as a ‘church art museum’. They charge 1 Euro to enter. In the main altar area they had a display of vestments and other chapels featured artwork, statues and sacred items. I’m just glad the doors are open and we can see these amazing structures, sacred spaces and intriguing artwork.

A Sunday mass service was held in one of the smaller side chapels.

As we strolled through the art exhibit at Santa Maria del Manzano we heard a small choir preparing for a mass service. The locals were starting to arrive and many brought a handful of flowers probably from their gardens. They had a special wooden rack for holding the flowers. Very nice way for the parishioners to contribute to the service.

Ancient castle ruins overlook the city of Castrojarez.

This is the view when entering Castrojarez. High on top of the steep mesa is Castillo de San Esteban. The Romans used the castle, said to be founded by Julius Caesar, to protect the roads to Galicia’s lucrative gold mines. The city changed hands frequently until coming under Christian rule in 10th century.

A better view of the castle ruins. There is a steep pathway leading up to it but it was full sun and quite hot the day we were there … no way.
View from the Albergue’s dining room where we had dinner.
This was gazpacho with a side of grated hard cheese.
Another favorite … Chorizo cocktail weenies. I don’t think that’s what they call this specialty but we figured it out.
Another beautiful sky.


Saturday, September 11, 2021: This is the entrance to the “Muni” in Hontanas which is a small village with a population of 70.

Our bunks were in a small isolated alcove. This is what you get for $10 a bed. The top bunks were pretty high but, once again with Covid and reduced capacity, they were not putting anyone on top bunks.
The nearby church was very contemporary and had a little meditation area with bibles in many languages.
This village had several fountains for water.
Another water source.
This very old water source has the Camino shell near the spigot. Many pilgrims fill their water bottles here.
This very nice home had a unique water fountain …
… unique but a little strange.
Sangria time!
The little cafes, albuergues and hostals depend upon business from those walking the Camino. Last year was hard on everyone. In this town, the grocery store closed and there were several dwellings for sale.
“Meal of the Day” is a good deal especially if you’ve walked several miles and are really hungry. They usually cost about $12 and include two courses with several items to choose from plus wine, bread and desert.
One of the courses I chose was St. Anton’s Pot. It was a savory combination of chic peas and several types of meat.
Small but well maintained town.
The sun setting over Hontanas.

Next stop is Castrojarez, a village built on a steep Mesa topped with the ruins of a castle.

Tardejos and Hornillos

Thursday, September 9, 2021: Tardejos has a population of about 850. The town’s church had a giant size stork nest on top. The stork took off flying over the buildings.

As I was walking away a woman came and unlocked the church doors so I stopped in to check it out. The churches always have interesting things — sometimes its hard to figure out the logic but I assume the congregation knows the rhyme and reason why.

Very ornate and filled with statuary.
Not sure who the guy at the top is … wild guess St. Peter?
This model of the church building was on display.
Wagyu beef found its way to Spain. Prior to traveling to Spain, I saw Wagyu beef on sale at Fresh Time for $40/lb.

I entertain easily … watched a truck with cages of firewood being delivered to local businesses. The crane would move the cage to the sidewalk. Then it would release the cage and all of the wood spilled out. Somebody probably had the job of moving the wood inside or stacking it neatly.

The entrance to a park and picnic area in Tardejos.

The Village of Hornillos is quite possibly an ancient city. There are some ruins prior to entering the town which are the remains of a hospice for lepers.

The town fountain features a rooster on top because of a story that says Napolean’s troops stole all the chickens in Hornillos while the townspeople were at Mass. The soldiers killed the chickens and snuck them out of the town in their drums. When confronted by the townspeople, the soldiers denied everything, but one rooster miraculously came back to life and gave a nightly crow from within the drum, proving the soldiers’ guilt.

This is the “Muni” a municipal albuergue that we stayed at for about $10 a bed. All of the accommodations are at reduced capacity (due to Covid) so it can be tricky finding a place to stay.
At the albuergue we stayed in an alcove with lower bunks across from each other. They don’t put anyone on the top bunks anymore due to Covid.
Outdoor cafe was a very nice place to sit in the sun, drink coffee and do some blogging.
View of the village.
View of the Meseta sunset from the church in Hornillos.
The homes are all connected with no yards. I like the flower decor. Some have courtyards or grass areas on the inside area.
Salad Mixta, Croquets and Cerveza … yum!
This brave man from Boston was doing the Camino with his 2-year-old twins and making good time too. He was staying at our albuergue and we crossed paths with him in the lounge. We invited him to send his wife down to give her a break from the kids and he said he didn’t have a wife. He was going solo.

Moving on! Next stop is Hontanas which is named for the numerous springs and abundant water in the area. Buen Camino!!

The Meseta

Due to time constraints, Theresa and I skipped the Meseta when we walked the Frances in 2017. We are excited to discover this unique piece of Iberia.

The Meseta is a geographical area within the region of Castilla and Leon – the largest region in Spain. The Camino Frances crosses The Meseta between the cities of Burgos and Leon. The flat land glimmers with golden wheat and flocks of sheep. There is an endless horizon and wide open space. Sun is full strength — there are very few trees and very little shade.

The Meseta – endless horizon and wide open space.
First stop is Real Monasterio de Las Huelgas, which translates as “The Royal Monastery of Pleasures.”

My Camino guidebook says, “The Monastery was built in 1175 by Alfonso VIII who transformed one of his palaces into a luxurious convent where widow noblewomen could retreat from the world in decadence. Today an order of nuns live there and guide visitors on tours.” The Santa Maria la Real de Huelgas” guidebook says the word “Huelgas” was misinterpreted and it actually means, “Idle”. The Monastery of Idle?

The convent was built first and then a church followed in the early 13th century. There are three chapels fashioned by Muslim artists.

A beautiful walkway wrapped around the cloister. We were allowed to take photos outdoors but not indoors. In one of the chapels is a statue of St. James that has jointed arms that move. One has a sword in it and was used during rituals to tap the kings on the shoulder when they were dubbed as knights. Only St. James is worthy to knight a king, even if it is a statue.

The oldest part of the church is the Romanesque cloister.
We’ve barely started walking and it’s time for lunch.
This is Templade salad filled with shrimp, bacon, mushrooms and cheese. We’ve seen this on a few menus in the Meseta but have never had it before in Spain.
Back on the road again. The Camino leads us through a park.
This is one of the churches we passed on the way.
Fellow pilgrims, Jorg from Munich, Charisa from Italy and Max from Belgium. We were all heading for Tardajos.
A long road ahead
A lovely assortment of weeds adorned the trail.
This weed had strange white things …
… taking a closer look – they are snails. Very odd but interesting.

This is our final destination … LaFabrica. It was an old flour factory turned in to a Hostal. It features exposed stone walls and wooden beams.

Our room had unique decor and an extra large bathroom.

We enjoyed a very nice dinner at the Hostal’s restaurant. A nice couple from Germany joined us. They were also walking the Camino. A nice finish to a long day.

The Bus to Burgos

It’s a 2-1/2 hour bus ride from Madrid to Burgos. The people of Spain take Covid and mask wearing seriously. Everyone wears masks! They are required inside all buildings. When walking around outside, over half the people are masked. You don’t see anyone with their nose hanging out either. As of today, 74.6% of the entire population of Spain (over 12) is vaccinated. The US is at 54.3%. I feel safer here in Spain than in the United States. Last week at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport in Texas, countless people were walking around with their mask around their neck or their nose hanging out. Selfish. We all share the air.

Mask wearing is a must in Spain and no one complains about it.

Burgos is a small historical city with a very large Cathedral and a beautiful river walk that leads you to the city gates.

The Burgos Cathedral was finished in 1260. It is now a National Monument and a World Heritage Site.
Burgos has a beautiful walk that follows the River Arlanzon. It is part of the Camino. This is where we will start walking tomorrow.

No Agenda Today!

The first day in Spain is to acclimate. Let the body recover from the stress of leaving home, the long flight and the time change. Absorb the energy of Madrid and lean into the culture.

This is a favorite breakfast spot. Glad to see that most of the shops and restaurants survived the pandemic and are open for business again.
“If you’re not drinking wine, it must be breakfast,” Chiquita restaurant.
Jet lag makes it hard to decide what meal you should be eating. This hearty plateful covered all the bases.
Sounds of a street musician playing glasses accompanied breakfast this morning. How do people learn to do this kind of stuff?
A wall full of espadrills beckoned us to a nearby shop. Interesting display.
Time for a stroll over to plaza Mayor
Mercado de San Miguel is a gourmet market featuring the culinary talent of a number of internationally renowned chefs.
Lots of seafood …
Octopus appetizers Yum!
I think this is a brontosaurus.
Swordfish coming out of the ice? Whatever it is, it has no teeth but that sword-like nose could do some damage. Sign next to is says … “Do Not Touch — They Bite Sometimes.”
The top shelf features Crabby Patty … I’ve seen them on Sponge Bob.
Ibérico Belotta Ham is a Spain specialty that sells for $140 per pound. Why?? See below.

Iberico Belotta hams come from pigs that feast on acorns. The favorite pastime of Iberico hogs is rooting around the pastures of the dehesa, (wooded farmland) foraging for acorns as well as herbs and grasses. All this running around and feasting makes for exquisitely marbled raw meat packed with natural antioxidants — a key ingredient for extended curing of the ham.

Iberico ham is considered as the most cardio healthy of all animal fats. It is low in calories, rich in vitamins B1, B6, B12, antioxidants, and has the ability to lower bad cholesterol levels and its high content in Omega 9 makes it unique.

The ham is sliced thin and often served with bread. The ham melts in your mouth and has a rich flavor profile that has been described as nutty and sweet, to earthy and floral.

Puerto del Sol at night … seems less crowded than in previous trips. We used to see street peddlers selling jewelry, toys and trinkets. They are all gone. The police presence has increased noticeably.
Ruth Badger Ruttger found a necklace she couldn’t resist.

Madrid is a fun place to visit but now it’s time to move on to rural Spain. The next stop is Burgos which is the start of the Maseta.

Welcome to Spain!

So we survived the flight and sailed through Immigration and Customs just fine. It was 9:30 am in Spain, but my legs knew better … in Minneapolis time was about 4:00 am. Onward to Puerto del Sol in central Madrid. We took the Renfe train which is faster than the Metro subway system. The cost for a Renfe ticket is $3.50. Surprisingly, the train was not crowded like it should have been. On previous trips we have ridden both Renfe and the Metro at various times of day. Remember, we were here in Madrid exactly two years ago. This seemed very odd. Perhaps, like in the United States, many people are now working from home.

Much of the day was spent sleeping. We crashed hard. We were revived in time for a walk around Puerto del Sol and dinner at Cafe Europa just off Sol. A lovely welcome to Spain.

Cold sangria! Very refreshing. We did some people watching as we munched on croquets, calamari and salad mixta.

Global Travel: The New Normal

Our last trip to Spain was exactly two years ago and it was a lot simpler all the way round. Just as 911 changed travel in 2001, Coronavirus is changing the way we travel now. There are several new procedures required and I’m thinking that some will fade away and some will become the new normal for travel. If any of you are planning to travel international in the near future, I hope this is helpful.

Accommodation Reservations are a Must. On the Camino, hotel rooms and albuergues are plentiful but now they are limiting their capacity because of mandated COVID restrictions. It varies from province to province but some are as low as 30% of their normal capacity. We’ve read that many of those walking the Camino are sleeping outdoors because they can’t get a room or a bed anywhere within reason. After two or three days of this, several have called it quits and gone home. Theresa and I spent countless hours planning walking distances and finding hotels, hostels or albuergues where we could reserve a room or beds.

Travel Requirements are Volatile: It’s necessary to keep a constant watch on the entry requirements for countries you wish to visit. The more countries, the more requirements which can change without notice at anytime. We restricted our travel to “Spain only” so we could avoid crossing a border and having to deal with multiple requirements. Spain’s only requirement at the time of our travel was to be vaccinated. Just a few days prior to our departure, Italy decided to require all visitors to quarantine for 14 days while France requires a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival.

Days before our departure, the European Union (EU) made a recommendation to its 27 members to restrict non-vaccinated United States citizens from entering their countries. Each European country then decides whether or not to accept the EU’s recommendation. This volatility will continue until COVID is contained … and then what happens when the next COVID variant arrives? Consult your crystal ball because nobody knows!

Digital Vaccination Passports: Theresa and I have been vaccinated and now we have to prove it to Spain and American Airlines before being allowed to board the plane to Spain. After purchasing our airline tickets we were encouraged by American Airlines to enroll in their VeriFLY program which acts as a digital vaccination passport. To complete VeriFLY, we needed to receive a QR code from the health department of Spain. To fulfill the above is a two step process.

1. Download Spains SpTH app. This process is probably similar for other countries too. Follow the directions to fill out a request for a QR code. The typical information like name, address, passport #, etc. can be completed at anytime. But the covid information can only be completed within 48 hours of departure. It asks the typical covid questions, like “have you been exposed to anyone with COVID in the last 14 days”. It also asks for the date your COVID vaccination was completed and what type of vaccine you received.

After completing the form correctly, you will receive your QR code. The trick question for us was the “which vaccine did you receive?” We couldn’t find “Pfizer” on their list. It turns out that Pfizer goes by several names and here it was listed as Comirnaty. Completing these forms can sometimes be a problem solving experience.

This is what the required QR document from Spain’s department of Health looks like. The VeriFLY app will ask you to scan the QR code which completes the VeriFLY process.

2. Download the “VeriFLY” app from American Airlines. It would probably work best to add it your your cell phone as opposed to a computer. However, if doing it on a computer, you could print out the QR document and take it with you to check in. VeriFLY is available for all of the countries American Airlines travels to, not just Spain. The other airlines probably have similar apps. It will ask you to take a selfie photo and complete some of the typical info. Similar to the SpTH app, much of it can be done in advance but you are not able to complete it until you have the QR code from SpTH.

A Confident Traveler: Once again, when you complete the VeriFLY form correctly, it will reward you with a digital credential that has your photo and a VeriFLY QR code. It proudly boasts, “A Confident Traveler” over your photo. When you check in for your flight, you provide your VeriFLY digital document to the airline rep and boom you’re done.

Be a Smart Traveler: The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service that allows US citizens traveling or living abroad to receive the latest security updates from the nearest US embassy or consulate. For us, that would be the US Embassy in Madrid. The embassy will be able to contact you in case of an emergency. If your friends or family back home are having difficulty reaching you with urgent news, the US embassy can try to reach you.

Coming Home to the US: The United States requires its citizens to take a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test within 72 hours of returning. This means the airlines will want to see the results before you board your flight home. We’re flying American Airlines and they offer a verified PCR tests for purchase and it was reasonably priced compared to other similar tests. So we bought a 6-pack of tests rather than take a chance finding an appointment somewhere in Madrid or having the results not be accepted by American Airlines. It ended up costing each of us $85 for three tests. They recommend having a back up test so we each carried two tests with us to Spain.

This is what the Verified PCR test kit looks like. It is a medical test and is also referred to as a home test. There are two QR code’s: the one on the sleeve is for downloading the NAVICA app. The other one on the right (peeking out under the sleeve) is for starting the test.

Verified PCR Tests: After ordering and receiving the tests, the next thing required is to download the NAVICA app by scanning the QR code on the package. The test is actually a Zoom call to a technician (whom you find through Emed) who watches you take the test and verifies the results by emailing you a QR code. The QR code is proof of your PCR results for the airlines and US customs.

This may sound complicated but it really isn’t. The directions on the package are easy to follow. I downloaded the apps and did a test run at home just to learn how it works so it will be easier to accommodate from a hotel room in Spain.

My suggestions: If you are planning a trip to Spain or elsewhere, reserve some time a day or two before you leave to complete the digital forms … like 2-3 hours. Sit down with a cup of coffee. You don’t want to be rushed. If you are like me, human errors happen when completing digital forms and I rarely get them right the first time through. Be a problem solver! If the form keeps indicating errors, look at it as a puzzle you’re trying to solve. Usually it’s something very simple that is easily overlooked.

If you have trouble filling out online forms, get a second pair of eyes to help. The younger the eyes, the better. High school and college age students seem very astute at this and for many of them it is very intuitive.

So How Did it Go? Departing MSP: Check-in at American Airlines was smooth and easy. A delightful ticket agent name Gabby was impressed when I flashed my VeriFLY credentials. She was knowledgeable which helped us navigate this new procedure. We have TSA pre-check so there was no waiting in line. The experience at MSP airport was easy, fast and smooth. Might I add that MSP has some of the best restrooms ever seen at any airport. The flight boarded and left on time. Flight service was good. All passengers were masked and did what they were suppose to do. No incidents.

Breathing easy: One noticeable difference on this flight was the plane’s super pure cabin air. Even with a mask on, in a cabin full of people, you could tell the air was different. It felt fresh and light … like being at a lung spa. When allowed to take the mask off for a glass of wine and dinner, it was very noticeable. According to the American Airlines email received prior to the flight, “HEPA filters refresh the cabin air every 2 to 4 minutes so you can breathe easy.” And that statement was true. It made the flight a much more pleasant experience.

Arriving at the Madrid Airport: Going through Immigration is always slow and this airport did that really well. At the start, they only had two immigration agents working to accommodate our flight of several hundred passengers. It took 45 minutes of going through the line maze. The hard marble floor was not kind to the feet. Eventually two more agents arrived and the line moved slightly faster. Next step was to take the airport’s link tram to Customs. The tram ride was really long but it did get us to the correct place. The custom agent wanted to see the SpTH QR code document. After he dismissed me, another agent appeared and went through it more thoroughly. She wanted to see my vaccination credentials in addition to the QR code … they take this very seriously. This is when being totally prepared pays off. We were now done with the entry process and on our way.


Hijacked by the Pandemic in 2020

Almost two years have passed since Theresa and I returned from walking Camino Ingles and volunteering as greeters at the albuergue in Ribadiso. We had planned to return to Spain in September 2020. And like many others, our plans were hijacked by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

We waited patiently for travel to Spain (and everywhere else) to resume. I guess that’s a lie because we were not patient at all. In fact, when we gave up hope of returning to Spain in a timely manner we decided to do a domestic Camino. During the fall and winter months we spent many evenings plotting a trip to New Mexico. It wouldn’t exactly be like a Camino in Spain, but there would be lots of hikes in beautiful nature and visits to many mystical, spiritual and Native American sites. We were surprised when we discovered that New Mexico was closed too due to high levels of COVID.

Now what? We decided to make a plan to go somewhere in the fall of 2021. Our 1st choice would be Spain, 2nd choice New Mexico and if neither of those two became available, the default would be to do a Minnesota road trip. It was looking like Minnesota would be the likely winner. But magically in July, Europe opened its doors to the United States. I was still a bit apprehensive about traveling to Spain. Then we found a round trip airfare for $505 and that was the deal maker.

Walking the Maseta: We decided to take it easy this time. On our first trek across Spain in 2017 (the 500 mile one) we skipped a small segment called The Maseta. We weren’t alone. Many consider it to be hot, flat and boring. There are long views of big skies, flocks of sheep and rolling fields of grain. Being slow walkers, we needed to cut it so we would arrive in Santiago to meet my husband David. We’ve always wondered what we missed and now it’s time to find out. In addition, we want to walk the last two days of Camino Ingles, which Theresa missed in 2019 due to an ankle injury. After completing those two goals, we have seven days to explore Spain — Bilbao? San Sebastián? Barcelona? You’ll find out when we get there.

Long-time friends Theresa and Jane happily anticipating their next hiking adventure in Spain.
Meet my family … Jane, Kyle, Owen, Quinn & Emily, David
My husband David
Our youngest son, Owen.
Middle son Kyle
Daughter-in-law Emily and Biscuit
Oldest son Quinn

Travel in a Covid World: Tomorrow I’ll write about the new normal and how global travel has changed in a short two years and what’s required to leave and re-enter the country.

Gotta mask up if you want to travel abroad.