Hey there, hi there, ho there. It’s time to introduce ourselves. We are couple of fifty something’s from Orange County, California. In 2013 we walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Well, most of it. Due to time constraints and a foot blister, we skipped a section of the Camino known as the “Meseta”. Last year we walked some of the Portugese Camino and toured Spain. While in Seville, the hotel offered free bicycles to the guests . We made full use of them. We pedaled around the city caching the sights while reacquiring our bike handling skills. A few cafe tables were narrowly missed and there was an incident with a horse that we flatly deny, only to blame it on some nachos. However, we rediscovered cycling, and covered three times the distance. So now we have decided to cycle the Meseta and check it off our list. Join us as we co author our blog “Cycling the Spanish Meseta”.
The Spanish Meseta is the section of the Camino Frances that lies between Logrono and Astorga, Spain. This central plateau is considered the “Spanish Heartland” in Spain’s Castile region. The land is composed of flat dry areas with an abundance of sun. Many pilgrims have considered this as a place for quiet reflection. The Meseta is approximately 200km or 8 stages.
What is the first rule of Flight Club? That would be to expect delays… With an over eager anticipation for our cycling adventure to begin, we arrived at LAX four hours early. This combined with a delayed departure of another four hours made for quite the wait. Truly patience is a virtue here! Unfortunately this would mean missing our connecting flight at Heathrow. So with courtesy of British Airways, we spent the night in London. The next morning we arrived bright and early for our connecting flight. But as fate would have it, this flight too was delayed…. C’est la vie!!
Our first two nights in Spain was at the Hotel Arc La Rambla, located on La Ramblas street in Barcelona. Although we did have some concern regarding noise, we still selected a room with a balcony facing the street. As was expected, partying from the nearby bars continued well into the mornings. We did however find that the room was well insulated and were rarely awoken from our jet lagged state.
La Ramblas street is a touristy area close to many of Barcelona attractions. It’s also well known for its pick pockets. We however, did not encounter any unlawful activity. The street itself is lined with the usual assortment of tourist kiosks. Also, we had heard that Barcelona had limited the amount of street performers on this street. This was quite evident and a little disappointing. La Ramblas charm now lies more with the offshoot of its streets and alleyways where we found less expensive eateries, shops and markets.
Our goal today was to seek Parc Guell. Unfortunately we were so excited to try out our new GPS app, that we plugged in the wrong destination. After about 45 mins of walking in the wrong direction we realized that a taxi would be adviseable. So a taxi it was…. And glad we did since Parc Guell, which is nestled between neiborhoods at a top of a steep hill, can be hard to find.
Throughout the park we saw multiple mosaic coloured tiles and interesting stone structures resembling tree trunks. This definitely was a great place to display Barcelona’s uniqueness and classic Gaudi style. For this experience we paid an entrance fee of around 8 euros which did not include the museum on site.
Montserrat is a multi peaked mountainous town near Barcelona in Cataonia, Spain. This is also where the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat is located. The Monastery is best known for the housing of the “Virgin of Montserrat” or the “Black Madonna”.
Montserrat can be reached easily by train from The Plaza Espanya train station in Barcelona. Just follow the signs for the R5 train. You can also purchase a ticket at this time for the cable car or rack railway.
We however chose alternate transportation and signed up for a tour through Julia’s travels. Since we both apparently were suffering from “Brain Fog” , this seemed the better option. The tour included a tour guide and transportation by coach. The coach seats were very comfy which allowed us to drift into this blissful state of unconsciousness. Occasionally we would erupt from sleep by our own snorts and snores. We understand that on the way up the mountain the tour guide was quite informative. Thank you Mr. Wikipedia for filling in the gaps!
We got up early today and took a taxi to the Barcelona Sants train station. We had the hotel book a taxi and one showed up quick, but it was the wrong company. So we waited for the taxi that the hotel endorsed. We took a taxi to Park Guell the day before and it was 19 euros and on the return trip it was only 10. It was only a 3.3 mile drive. The taxi going there took the slower streets, even going by the Sagrada Familia which was packed and slow to get around. So, sure enough today’s taxi had 4.80 on the meter when we entered the cab. Perhaps it was higher for waiting? He then charged us for bags which has never happened. It was 15.70 euros for about a 3 mile drive. We should have argued, but what’s the point. Hotel endorsed, ha!
Conversely we overheard a couple talking about how to get back from the tour yesterday by taking a series of their paid Hop On, Hop Off bus lines. That would have taken them 90 minutes plus. We both looked at each other and said “taxi”.
Spain has more high speed trains than any other county in the world and we were fortunate to get one on the way to Burgos. It’s was going 157 kph as I wrote this. Total time on train was 6 hours.
After arriving in Burgos we took a taxi to our hotel Norte y Lordes. We had stayed here two years earlier and were happy with the location in the historic center of town. For 60 euros it was still a great bargain. It also was one of the designated hotels for our bike delivery.
Before leaving for Spain we arranged our bicycle rentals. By not joining a tour group it was essential that everything be in order. We researched different Spanish bike companies and found one that caters to “Bicigrinos”. In other words, they will deliver our bikes to the hotel in Burgos. We will then return the bikes in Leon, our final destination on the meseta section of the Camino de Santiago.
The bike company “Tienda Bicigrino” https://bicigrino.info/tienda_virtual/en/ also provides helmets, bike locks, pump, odometer, tool kit and a special basket to hold backpacks. Even though they took our measurements…. weight and height etc…. & paid in advance… 200 euros per bike…… There was still this uneasiness of whether we would ever see our two wheeled friends. We are happy to report the bikes were delivered… assembled…. and with all the whistles and bells!