We are now in Leon for two nights. Not Lyon France. Now that would be a long cycle. And it´s spelt differently anyway! No, Leon Spain, past our half way point from Logrono to Santiago de Compostela. As I write this I´ve left Pauline sitting out in the midday sun guarding our bikes.
If you´re a city lover then the ones we have been to so far, Burgos and now Leon, are well worth a visit. Their medieval architeture in the old parts is something to behold, though Burgos is far prettier than Leon. We had a world of adventure getting from the campsite on the outskirts, to a large supermarket in town. There was zero provision for bicycles and we ended up going via goodness knows where. It was worth however, as next door to the supermarket was a McDonalds and we indulged in fries and coke!!
The countryside though is something of a stark contrast. As we cycled through vast areas of open agricultural land I am reminded in parts of being in California, such is the parched earth and scant number of trees, with the odd vineyard thrown in. Then within a few miles we would go through an ancient isolated village, some abandoned long ago, and the adobe brick built crumbling houses together with the smell of stagnant water reminded me more of India.
Our campsites have contrasted considerably too. Two days ago we met a couple who started walking the Camino in Geneva! They were of the opinion that the Spanish campsites are not well suited to the solo camper and had been appalled at some of the prices, and I had to agree. One of the things that is particularly annoying is that in two campsites so far we have been charged three Euros each for having a bicycle! This is the same charge if you have a motorbike, but, incredibly, if you bring a polluting car onto the campsite it works out cheaper than 2 bicycles!! On Sunday and Monday nights we will be staying in our first Albergues, so we will have a comparisom to make.
When I cycle at home I am acutely aware of the intolerence of car drivers toward cyclists. Here in Spain though it is a breath of fresh air. In Burgos, but sadly not in Leon, there were networks of purpose-made cycle ways, complete with their own direction signs and traffic lights. I also find that when I´m on a busy roundabout all the traffic gives way to cycles and at no point to date have I heard one person sound their horn, even when I make an obvious mistake.
As we cycle along many people spot the sea shell, the symbol of the Camino de Santiago, on the front of our barbags and shout ¨Bon Camino!¨ Which roughly means have a good Camino. Even car drivers will slow down beside you, wind their window down and wish you buen Camino. It really is quite uplifting. You never hear that in Scotland: ¨hey pal, have a good West Highland Way!¨
I am now getting more used to the intense heat and I´m more the colour of a fresh croissant than a boiled lobster! That said it stops at my ankles, above my knees and upper arms! We continue to set out at 7am as the sun is rising and regularly reach our destination by noon, then we can sit out the afternoon heat. We will soon have steep climbs ahead of us as we have to traverse two 1500m passes. Hopefully we will have cloudy breezy days to help us.
I guess I should sign off now and get back to Pauline cooking in the sun.
5 new pics on the Flickr site that go with this blog: