If an antidote had been required for yesterday’s humdrum, wet, cold, uninspiring, boring, gloomy [OK we get the idea; please move on…] cycle to Palencia from Benavente (if you dare, read cycling day 13), then the last 24 hours have provided one in abundance. Can one thing provide in abundance? Who knows? [Who cares? Get on with it!]
Juan, my WarmShowers host in Palencia was, sorry for the cliché [Why apologise? It hasn’t stopped you in the past.], the perfect host. Relaxed and mild-mannered we chatted about cycling and teaching before he cooked up some delicious food and we headed out to meet some of his friends in a local bar who were a real delight. A very nice evening indeed. And I’m not just saying that because you are reading this Juan; many thanks! [He’s said that before; just wait to see what he puts in the book before you reciprocate…] Who is the annoying person who keeps butting in with the square brackets? It’s not clever or funny. [Yes it is.] Please go away.
Juan – far left in the picture – joined me for this morning’s cycle as far as a beautiful little village called Astudillo on his Surley touring bike. Jealous? Me? Never… It did look good with its hub brakes. Perhaps one day. It quickly became apparent that today’s cycle would never plummet the depths of horror [it wasn’t that bad] of yesterday’s trudge. As the only direct road to Burgos was a motorway, it was always necessary to find an alternative route and we found a great one which climbed steadily to Astudillo before opening up into a wide plain shortly thereafter. By that point, Juan had turned back to Palencia but I was in my element, soaking up the sun, absorbing the great views and generally having a bloody good time cycling. Very bloody good! It was to continue all through the day, although not on the flat.
I came into contact with the Camino de Santiago walkers (and a few cyclists) shortly after the village of Castrojeriz. In fact I was a little taken aback as to just how many there were. Along the sections of our routes that were concurrent, there were walkers every 50 metres. This is April. Goodness knows what it’s like in the summer. I tossed everyone a merry ‘hola‘ or even ‘buen camino‘. Some replied, some didn’t. I have little doubt that on all their minds was the question: ‘Why is that bloke cycling in the wrong direction?’
My initial plan had been to cycle to a campsite at Cavia, just to the west of Burgos, but when I arrived near to the site I could see it was adjacent to the motorway on one side and behind it was the not inconsiderable construction site for the new high speed train from Burgos to Valloidoid. It was still only 3:30pm so I decided to continue as far as Burgos itself – only a further 15 km – and then make up my mind about accommodation options.
Sitting in the Plaza Mayor in Burgos and having spent most of the day dreaming of returning to life as a camper [really?] [yes! And we can all do the double bracket thing!!], the cheap hostal options on Booking.com didn’t sound very tempting. The campsite in Burgos did, so I cycled the 5 km down the road to find the best campsite I’ve yet visited on this trip [steady on it’s only the fourth one]. Friendly – the woman on reception was very keen to tell me about her son, a civil engineer, who lives in Bristol and told me she would Google ‘Halifax’ to find out more about my place of birth!! – green, leafy, busy with the right kind of people (no riff raff – the guy next to me – Peter – used to work for the BBC World Service)… It’s my kind of campsite. [It might be but you have had two mugs of wine.] I’m currently a happy man. [Quite; refer to my previous square brackets.]
Tomorrow morning I’ll pop back into Burgos to have a rummage around; It looked very nice and interesting on this afternoon’s fleeting visit. Then I’m heading over to Logroño where my new best mate Pete (the BBC guy next door) has already recommended the campsite that he and his wife / girlfriend / daughter are going to tomorrow. Could life get better? [Probably, especially if you stopped that annoying habit of using square brackets to imagine that there was someone behind your shoulder making smart comments.] No!