The Road to Burgos: Camino de Santiago
It did not all start as planned….the town of St Juan de Ortega, bursting at the seams with pilgrims, ran out of dinner pretty early and I was on the wrong side of the dinner queue – the next morning, 4K away in the small town of Ages, my walking partner and I just squeaked in – we shared the last eggs, ate the last bread and finished off the last of the milk….and with breakfast in our tummies, the sun in the sky, we set off for Burgos…..the Gothic capital of Spain! For me – 2 decadent nights with a rest day to see the Burgos sights.
Merrily we walked along, discussing the various random thoughts of the day…totally oblivious to the world….life was fantastic. For me, I had 2 nights booked at the popular Norte y Londres Hotel – a chance to rest, see the sights and continue to enjoy life on the Camino de Santiago. At some stage, we noticed that there were no pilgrims around. We could have been the only 2 people left on earth – nothing but fields and the road ahead. We also noticed that there were no more of the yellow arrows marking our path. It was obvious we had lost our way. We followed the road signs to Burgos, confident we were on our way to town. A few cars stopped, but we waved and kept going, enjoying the morning – really, it was a spectacular one! We didn’t have a care in the world! Finally, one more car stopped, a stilted attempt at dialogue and translations was made, and we decided it best to accept the ride! Just as well – turns out we were walking towards the freeway – pilgrims not welcome!
I am guessing it is quite common for pilgrims to get lost in this area – the guidebooks warm of paying attention to way markers that may be easy to miss, but I really figured they meant closer to town where distractions are plentiful, construction and detours making the markers easy to lose! Thankfully, we were dropped at the start of town and pointed in the direction of the arrows that mark the path of the Camino. Who knows how far off track we went, but we arrived in town in time for lunch and some solid touristing! Better still – we completely missed the trudge into town through what some have described as industrial no mans land!
Our first stop was the 13th Century Catedral de Santa Maria – a stunning work of craftmanship created by the great master builders and architects throughout the centuries. Designated a World Heritage Site, it is worthy of a few hours to visit the many chapels of this spectacular church. Bring your pilgrims credentials for a stamp and 50% off the price of admission. (More information and photos to come!)
Sitting in a coffee shop in the Plaza St Maria, a bright orange tourist train went by every 30-40 minutes. People (pilgrims) were joking about the train, but many of them took a ride. It was perfect – I was in Burgos on a rest day – I wanted to rest my feet, and for 4 Euro, I could get shuttled around to all the sights with a commentary in Spanish, French and English – the only languages I and able to speak and understand! The Burgos Tourist Train was time and money well spent! Burgos spans a number of kilometres and has been built up along the Camino – the heritage is strong and monuments and sites of historical significance are plentiful. If you are looking for a rest day along the Camino, Burgos is worth the stop.
Food and Drink
There are far too many food and drink places for me to make any recommendations – I mostly ate and drank close to the Cathedral, spending time in coffee shops with my journal and sharing sangria in the plaza with my fellow pilgrims. No matter the time of day – there is always somewhere to stop for a bite – after so much time on the road, it was unusual to see so much life out on the streets late at night. The Spanish were only just getting started as this pilgrim was heading to bed!