We just had 21 actual walkable days and started at Leon, and went to Finisterre. That also gave us free days in Astorga, Santiago, and Fisterra. This also depends on your walking capabilities. We had several over 30km days, that I would not necessarily recommend unless you are prepared to physically. They drain you and you do not always have a free day to rest.
Leaving from Leon gives you a flavor of the Meseta and the beauty of el Bierzo and Galicia. The coast is wonderful and I would suggest to anyone to walk to Finisterre. If you have to cut some days, bus or Taxi to Orbreireo (?) and walk the final day of the three. The walk to the sea is magnificent on a clear day.
I'm not so sure I agree with you about Leon "giving you a sense of the meseta". There's nothing that truly compares to the 17km stretch of virtually nothing, after Carrion de los Condes - It just goes on and on and on...
Depends of course if your goal is to arrive in Santiago on your first trip or not. For me, I think that the most beautiful parts come before the Meseta, but that's merely an opinion.
Minkey, I can't disagree with you because I have not walked before Leon.
When we were deciding on what to do, we considered Roncevalles to Longono, bus to Astorga and then to Santiago. People told us if you have to cut something out, cut our the meseta.
If you KNOW you are going to come back and finish the Camino Frances, so you are committed to doing it in parts, I agree that it would be best to wait and get your compostela on the last leg. But if this may be your only time to go on the Camino, I think going to Santiago is best.
One day of flat walking out of Leon I am sure is not the meseta, but some of those that we walked with out of Mazarife said "Just imagine yesterday, for an entire week, in the mud".
As Minkey has stated so eloquently before (and you should take this to heart) each person's Camino is their own. Our inputs may help shape your introduction, but only you will experience it.
But we were very happy with our choice and have come back feeling accomplished and ready to go back and start in St Jean (my daughter may have outher ideas!)
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Good stuff! I like being called eloquent, it makes me feel intel... int... inte... clever. :lol:
Anyway, yeah I can see why people might say that about the Meseta, but there's nothing quite like looking down over Castrojeriz at dawn, or indeed Castrojeriz itself. There are some lovely little towns, some mind-numbing sections do crop up, of course... But I'm glad I've covered it.
That said and done, if you're wanting to avoid 30km + days, there's a bit of a problem with the meseta, especially if you're short on time, as the days are either very short, or very long (I think I did a 19km day and 3 days of around the 40km mark.
Must put my spoon to cup ..and tell that I´m doing my first camino August-September and using 15 days; I start from Ponferrada and feel to be " tourist walker" when I listen to your opinions. ..
However, like you experienced hikers say, it is a personal way and experience. You can´t be a fake but a true person. And somewhere you have to get off. So we meet many kinds of people doing their camino with their personal style. There are so many of us ordinary dreamers happily on the camino! Hope to meet one or two .. and after all, I´m thankful for all of the good advice, this site and many others are giving to new starters.
We had 14 days to walk and first thought about doing the last 14 days but decided that, for us, the Camino was about the journey and not about arriving in Santiago so we started in St Jean and thought we would just walk and see where we got to in the 14 days.
We ended up walking to Burgos.
We will definitely be returning to either walk the rest of the way or, time permitting, will start in St Jean or (here's a thought) maybe even Le Puy!!!!