This proposed stage of Camino de Santiago is quite short, only 20km. That is because along the endless flat I was becoming lazy and so was the group I was walking with. The days were really hot (over 40 degrees Celsius, over 110 Fahrenheit) and little by little we were stopping around midday for longer and longer “siestas”, taking it really easy and then arriving quite late to our destination. But the thing is that we weren’t getting up really early in the mornings as most pilgrims do in order to arrive to the day’s destination before the midday’s heat. Therefore, we entered in a laziness turmoil which slowed us substantially for the remaining of the “meseta” until Leon.
However, I and the rest of pilgrims whom I were walking with and hanging out in the evenings really enjoyed this part. The big lunches and siestas often in the shade of some trees in the middle of the countryside were a fun rest. The evenings in the plazas of the Camino de Santiago’s villages were most entertaining having long dinners and wines and enjoying the sunsets and the songs of thousands of swallows. And the late nights, usually still accompanied by the wine, were just superb in the coolness of the air after the roasting daytime, I remember vividly the hypnotizing chirping of crickets and the flights of bats.
The reason for me telling here some bits of my personal experience instead of going through a number of practical details is because I want to leave the reader, the future pilgrim, with the impression that it’s their choice what they do every day, their timetable, the length to walk, the final destinations for the day shouldn’t be determined by a guide book, or by what the other pilgrims are doing. The course of action shouldn’t even be affected by a tight time to walk El Camino de Santiago, there is no need to rush to get to the end before your vacation days end, and wherever you get is fine. Remember this is “your” Camino and just enjoy it and be happy.
Talking now more about practical facts, the landscape today continues the same, flat and dry, no trees. The villages are small and charming and a bit before Castrojeriz, the Way of St. James goes through a very interesting point the ruins of the monastery of San Anton which has 600 years of very interesting history and grandeur between the 12th century, when it was founded, until it was closed in the 18th century. Since 2002, when a foundation recovered it after more than a century completely closed down, it’s a rustic pilgrims’ hostel in the summer, also a Jacobean library and a center of Compostela studies. You could stay there for the night and be sure that it would be an unforgettable experience but remember before making up your mind that there are no shops or bars around; it is literally in the middle of nowhere.
Castrojeriz is a nice and historic medium size village which, as everything in this area, has lost the splendor of its medieval past. However it will still have everything you might need. It’s on the base of a high and steep hill with a castle on the top. If you keep some energy after the pilgrimage day I strongly recommend you to climb up to the top to admire the breathtaking sunset. The scenery is just fantastic; you can see endless miles and miles of flat land and the roofs of Castrojeriz village down on one side of the hill…