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LIVE from the Camino Busy May on the Meseta

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#1
We’ve resumed our slow multi-year camino where we left off in Burgos. Things seem pretty busy on the trail. I can’t say what it’s like in the albergue bunkrooms, but we’ve been calling ahead to book a private room and having to try 2-3 places before we find a vacancy.

Today a desk clerk in Castrojeriz claimed that mid-May is always the busiest time of the year. How is that possible? I thought that June-September was the high season, with the peak in August. This particular establishment isn’t just for pilgrims; is mid-May a hot time for non-Camino-related tourism in northern Spain? Even if the hostales claim to be booked up, the lobbies and restaurants are quiet, so we can’t figure out where all the people are.

As for the Meseta itself... after all the warnings about the flat and monotonous Meseta, we’ve been surprised that so far it is none of those things. The stretch from Hontanas to Castrojeriz has had some of the prettiest scenery we’ve seen in Spain. We keep thinking maybe the monotony starts around the next bend, but not yet!
 

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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Aragones, Camino Frances, Finisterre (2018)
#2
Just finished the meseta and it was spectacular!

As for booking private rooms, there are a lot of tour groups around right now and they’ve been swallowing up the rooms (bunk beds have been available every night for us). We’ve heard pilgrim complaints that “everything’s booked in town” when what they really meant was that booking.com didn’t show rooms. Remember, space MAY still be available even if it doesn’t show online
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#4
We’ve resumed our slow multi-year camino where we left off in Burgos. Things seem pretty busy on the trail. I can’t say what it’s like in the albergue bunkrooms, but we’ve been calling ahead to book a private room and having to try 2-3 places before we find a vacancy.

Today a desk clerk in Castrojeriz claimed that mid-May is always the busiest time of the year. How is that possible? I thought that June-September was the high season, with the peak in August. This particular establishment isn’t just for pilgrims; is mid-May a hot time for non-Camino-related tourism in northern Spain? Even if the hostales claim to be booked up, the lobbies and restaurants are quiet, so we can’t figure out where all the people are.

As for the Meseta itself... after all the warnings about the flat and monotonous Meseta, we’ve been surprised that so far it is none of those things. The stretch from Hontanas to Castrojeriz has had some of the prettiest scenery we’ve seen in Spain. We keep thinking maybe the monotony starts around the next bend, but not yet!
I have walked the Frances a few times, but never in mid-May. The times I did walk it was during the so called busiest months, but I always found "room at the inn" so to speak.
As far as the meseta goes, it seems to get described with a great deal of exaggeration on this forum (and elsewhere). A lot of poetic license used. I've even heard it described as a desert. Huh? I've heard that it can drive a pilgrim mad. Double huh?
Anyway, nice to hear you are enjoying it all.
cheers
 

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Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#8
Just finished the meseta and it was spectacular!

As for booking private rooms, there are a lot of tour groups around right now and they’ve been swallowing up the rooms (bunk beds have been available every night for us). We’ve heard pilgrim complaints that “everything’s booked in town” when what they really meant was that booking.com didn’t show rooms. Remember, space MAY still be available even if it doesn’t show online.
Yes, not everything is on Booking.com. We’ve also been shocked at the markup between the walk-in rate and the Booking rate - close to 100% in one case.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Aragones, Camino Frances, Finisterre (2018)
#15
Your photos show the mass of people perfectly! We’ve been stopping whenever we felt like stopping, end stages or not. Occasionally our first choice albergue was full, so we’d have to hike another 100 feet to the one next door! No conga lines, no crowds, no boredom, etc.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked from O'Cebreiro to Santiago in 2016
Planning to walk from Burgos this June, 2018
#17
Yes, not everything is on Booking.com. We’ve also been shocked at the markup between the walk-in rate and the Booking rate - close to 100% in one case.
Higher rate on Booking.com or walk-in?
 

Mike ward

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2018)
#23
We’ve resumed our slow multi-year camino where we left off in Burgos. Things seem pretty busy on the trail. I can’t say what it’s like in the albergue bunkrooms, but we’ve been calling ahead to book a private room and having to try 2-3 places before we find a vacancy.

Today a desk clerk in Castrojeriz claimed that mid-May is always the busiest time of the year. How is that possible? I thought that June-September was the high season, with the peak in August. This particular establishment isn’t just for pilgrims; is mid-May a hot time for non-Camino-related tourism in northern Spain? Even if the hostales claim to be booked up, the lobbies and restaurants are quiet, so we can’t figure out where all the people are.

As for the Meseta itself... after all the warnings about the flat and monotonous Meseta, we’ve been surprised that so far it is none of those things. The stretch from Hontanas to Castrojeriz has had some of the prettiest scenery we’ve seen in Spain. We keep thinking maybe the monotony starts around the next bend, but not yet!
We also loved the Meseta and have been trying not to book accomodation but have got to the point where we have had too in order to secure a bed for the night. Unfortunately we will arrive in Leon on Saturday and there is virtually no accommodation. We know a number of people taxiing through and a avoiding Leon altogether.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#25
That was one of my favorite meseta stretches, watching the castle get larger and larger as we approached Castrojerez. After checking in at our albergue, I had enough energy to climb to the top...incredible views! Screenshot_2018-05-11-10-22-15.jpg
 

Attachments

Camino(s) past & future
September (2016)
#26
The meseta is a mind-numbing slog across and incredibly boring landscape. Besides that there are only tiny towns with no good restaurants. You won't like it. At all. Take the bus, everyone, and leave it for the purists to struggle across.

;)
I disagree totally! I had some great homemade soups and pizzas along the meseta, plus I thought the hospitaleros were extra warm and friendly—maybe because so many pilgrims just rush by without checking out some of the charming garden cafes not visible from the path.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#27
I disagree totally! I had some great homemade soups and pizzas along the meseta, plus I thought the hospitaleros were extra warm and friendly—maybe because so many pilgrims just rush by without checking out some of the charming garden cafes not visible from the path.
:) VNwalking was just joking around a bit.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#28
I disagree totally! I had some great homemade soups and pizzas along the meseta, plus I thought the hospitaleros were extra warm and friendly—maybe because so many pilgrims just rush by without checking out some of the charming garden cafes not visible from the path.
I think you missed the ;).
 

Rex

Pilgrim Trekker
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago (2013)
Lisboa to Santiago (2018)
#31
Leon was what we considered the end of that stretch across the Meseta, but in reality, there are just some rolling hills and flat stretches from Leon through Astorga. Outside of Astorga, the climb to Cruz Ferro begins, and you are in the up and down mountains and big hills until Santiago.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#32
We're certainly finding it busy. Booking private rooms 3-4 days ahead. We select on gronze website send then call them. Confirming via email.
The couple of Spanish lessons have paid off!

Often there is not much showing on booking.com
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#34
I love the photos. Looks like the "meseta" section of the Frances is getting the credit for scenery and beauty it deserves.
Just out of curiosity....was that section of the Frances dubbed "meseta" by locals, or is it simply the product of something like the Brierley guidebook? I know what "meseta" means. A plateau, and I know that "mesa" means table, but researching maps of Spain, the section known as the "meseta" is actually further south (reference attached image).
Anybody know the story behind it? Specifically on the Frances, I mean. Who started calling that section of the Frances the meseta.
174806-004-6D409B99.jpg
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#35
...Just out of curiosity....was that section of the Frances dubbed "meseta" by locals, or is it simply the product of something like the Brierley guidebook?
It is the actual, official geographical designation of that area of Spain; it is usually listed as "Meseta Central". I was just reading about this in"The Concise History of Spain" a few weeks ago. :)
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#36
It is the actual, official geographical designation of that area of Spain; it is usually listed as "Meseta Central". I was just reading about this in"The Concise History of Spain" a few weeks ago. :)
No, I knew that already. I meant the section of the Frances commonly referred to as the "meseta", which is in actuality north/northwest of what is called the meseta on maps of Spain.
I thought perhaps some recent writer about the Frances dubbed it that for dramatic reasons. For those reasons broke the Frances into sections, each of which can have its own name or description, making them easier to turn into metaphors and such, when in fact it is not actually part of what is known as the meseta officially so to speak.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#37
No, I knew that already. I meant the section of the Frances commonly referred to as the "meseta", which is in actuality north/northwest of what is called the meseta on maps of Spain.
I thought perhaps some recent writer about the Frances dubbed it that for dramatic reasons. For those reasons broke the Frances into sections, each of which can have its own name or description, making them easier to turn into metaphors and such, when in fact it is not actually part of what is known as the meseta officially so to speak.
Gotcha; you could be right.
 

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#38
Just out of curiosity....was that section of the Frances dubbed "meseta" by locals, or is it simply the product of something like the Brierley guidebook? I know what "meseta" means. A plateau, and I know that "mesa" means table, but researching maps of Spain, the section known as the "meseta" is actually further south (reference attached image).
Anybody know the story behind it? Specifically on the Frances, I mean. Who started calling that section of the Frances the meseta.
View attachment 42430
Very good question!

I did some googling and found some maps and descriptions that are more general and some that are more specific. Here is a fairly specific one. The accompaning text says that the “Meseta Central” is divided into northern and southern “sub-mesetas,” separated by the mountainous ridge of the “Sistema Central.” The northern sub-meseta is dominated by the watershed of the Duero River and bounded on the north by the Cantabrian Cordillera.

The Camino Francés definitely crosses the northern Meseta. If I were on my computer I could try to superimpose this Meseta map and a map with the trail and major cities to see where geographers would say it begins and ends, but I don’t have the tools for that on my phone.

https://www.entrecumbres.com/sistemas-montanosos/meseta-central/

46C08169-67E8-4A27-BF4B-FD5D51663628.gif
 
Last edited:

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#39
Very good question!

I did some googling and found some maps and descriptions that are more general and some that are more specific. Here is a fairly specific one. The accompaning text says that the “Meseta Central” is divided into northen and southern “sub-mesetas,” divided by the mountainous ridge of the “Sistema Central.” The northern sub-meseta is dominated by the watershed of the Duero River and bounded on the north by the Cantabrian Cordillera.

The Camino Francés definitely crosses the northern Meseta. If I were on my computer I could try to superimpose this Meseta map and a map with the trail and major cities to see where geographers would say it begins and ends, but I don’t have the tools for that on my phone.

https://www.entrecumbres.com/sistemas-montanosos/meseta-central/

View attachment 42433
Hey, good research. Thanks.
 

gcsz

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hope to walk in 2019
#42
Yes, not everything is on Booking.com. We’ve also been shocked at the markup between the walk-in rate and the Booking rate - close to 100% in one case.
I'm just starting to plan for next year. Are you saying the walk-in rate is higher?
Thanks
 

NomadBoomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (September 2017), Vdlp (April 2018)
#45
Based on the anecdotal evidence from early September last year the peak seasons from SJPP thru to León are very different from the peak season Saria to Santiago. It seems that the majority of non Spanish walking from SJPP avoid the hotter July and August, and what they think are the busiest time. So May and September are the peak periods from SJPP.
I am starting a couple of weeks earlier this year on August 21 hopefully avoid the early September crush out of SJPP.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#46
I'm just starting to plan for next year. Are you saying the walk-in rate is higher?
Thanks
No, it is often slightly more expensive booking through Booking.com
Phoning the hotel direct may well get you a better price.
Also worth phoning if all the rooms have gone on Booking.com. There may still be rooms available contacting the hotel direct.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Burgos-SdC May-June 2016; CF: The whole enchilada April-June 2018
#47
An Albergue owner in Triacastela told us they have to pay a 15% commission to Booking.com for each reservation. I don’t know if each owner negotiates a different rate with Booking, but this owner made it clear to us that they appreciate it when pilgrims book with them directly, rather than through Booking.
 

NomadBoomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (September 2017), Vdlp (April 2018)
#48
I booked a few of the private albergues on booking.com early on my walk last September. I think that they all added a couple of euros to the price to cover the booking.com commission. I thought this was fair enough.
After the first week I realised I didn't need to book (I finish watching by 2:30 or before).
 

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