Day 13 - Atapuerca to Burgos

Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
1
14
36
Trip End Oct 07, 2012


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Where I stayed

Flag of Spain  , Castile-León,
Friday, September 14, 2012

Kms Walked Today: 20 kms
Kms Walked in Total: 281.3 kms
Kms to Go: 501.2 kms (guide book)
Blisters: none
Pains: slight pain in the right ankle but much better than yesterday

Reflections: "It doesn't matter how much you bang you boots before putting them on...the little stone will only appear when you start walking".

Burgos was just a stone throw away at just under 20 kilometres from Atapuerca. If I hadn't booked two nights in a hotel weeks before, I could have easily walked in and stayed at the albergue. However, with knowledge of a secure bed at the end of the day, I slept in until 6.30am, which must be a record. I probably would have slept for longer if it wasn't for two french ladies who kept faffing around in the room packing their stuff.

The rest of the evening group, with exception of Jimmy the Japanese, had left at 5.45am.

My plan was: wake up when everyone has left, go to the bar at 7am for breakfast, and then walk triumphantly for four hours to my hotel.

I should have realised by now that now bar owner was going to open his business so early. Nothing was open until 9am at Obaneja, and it was packed. Everyone was desperate for a coffee and something to eat. The colder morning weather increase our hopes for a hot drink. If I ever struggle for a job, I know where I'm taking my van to sell coffee and buns!

I was especially hungry as I had eaten my remaining apple first thing in the morning. A good reflection of the calorie burnout is that I'm now down to the fourth hole in the leather belt. There is about 2-3 centimetres in between each hole, and I usually use the first one back in London. I don't think I will hit the fifth and final hole, which I built into the belt during our eleven month tour of the Americas in 2008. But I still have over 3 weeks and 480kms, so anything can happen.

At the bar I coincided with the two Swedes and we had a quick chat. The mother was feeling a bit better and was going to continue the Camino for the time being. There was no date set for the funeral. Apparently it involved a third person who was responsible, and there might be an investigation involved. In any case they had decided to catch a train at Burgos all the way to Leon (one week walking). They would continue from there and see how the plot back home developed.

Hitame from Tokio had breakfast with me at Orbanejo (coffee and a bocadillo of omlette with chorizo). He explained that his name meant "I wish you well" in Japanese, purposely decided by his father so he would make many friends.

Next to us were the four American ladies in their sixties, who had also spent the night at our albergue. They had been complaining that there were no private rooms available for them. They had shown the hospitalera the internet information where it clearly said "private rooms".

The Welsh pilgrim, whom I had shared the pilgrim dinner on the first night back in Roncesvalles, had asked them how they had managed to get to the albergue ahead of him. He had passed them at a good speed early in the morning, and had not stopped all day. He asked "bus or taxi?", to which they mumbled and giggled "we are fast walkers!"

Those four ladies are getting worse than the Spanish basketball players that played at the para-olympics and had faked medical reports to participate. What is the point?

The second half of the walk into Burgos was not the most interesting as it just passed the industrial suburbs of the city. The only interesting part for me was the airport of Villafria, where my dad had been an aviation ace, back in the years when planes were made of cardboard or had rude names such as the "Focker".

I did however have the company of Sean, a German from Heidelberg who mentioned his name originated from his mothers love for Sean Connery.

Sean is only walking to Leon and will try to finish next year. He is some sort of science researcher, and as such kept asking questions about Spain, bull fighting, economy, etc. It made the 10kms pass very quickly.

He did highlight that if there was one question he absolutely hated, that was "why are you doing el Camino". He said it was as personal as asking whether one is good at sex. I can't actually agree with the comparison but I guess it does reflect seriousness.

Perhaps I should invent some outrageous reason to make the person asking it feel silly. I have played around with the idea of replying "What do you mean? This is not the Camino is it?", I would then throw my rucksack on the floor, take out my phone and shout all sorts of blasphemies to an invented caller, while kicking a stone around.
I'm sure I will come up with something better though! All ideas welcome.

The German also updated me with certain gossip of a couple who had met and the apparent rumpy-pumpy that was going on when they slept together.

His walking partner is the one armed girl from England, although she tends to walk slower than him so they tend to meet in the evening.

By eleven o'clock we were in the centre of Burgos, and with the loyal help of my Blackberry GPS I went straight to the hotel. I had booked it on the internet based on customer reports, and its actually not bad at all, and only a few minutes walk from the Cathedral and the "Pilgrim zone". I try to avoid such zones when I'm in cities as they cater for tourists, which translates into higher prices and non-local food.

And what can I say of the room. Its a three star hotel, and even though the rooms are small, they are bloody luxury compared to what I have experienced recently. A large queen sized bed, tv, radio, air conditioning, a marble decorated bathroom, and a huge bathtub!

I soon made use of the bathtub, and not in the traditional way! I filled it with boiling hot water, emptied all my dirty clothes in it, put all the hotel gels, shampoos and soap into the water and proceeded to a "Pilgrim Mechanical Wash".

This technique consists in getting into the bathtub yourself and walking from side to side, and then in circles to mix the soaps with the clothes. After a few minutes, one empties the bathtub, and fills it up again while showering. A good rub, rinse with water...et voila, the clothes are good as new!

With all this new wash, I won't need to clean anything until I get to Leon. One less worry.

I released myself into the medieval area of Burgos. I have been to this city many times, but its the first time that I have noticed the Santiago Path shells, all the related souvenirs, and so many Pilgrims. I guess before I just saw smelly old tramps walking around with flip flops and rucksacks - Santiago has opened my eyes!

Most of the people I have been walking with will be staying at Burgos for two nights. After Santiago it is the main attraction of the Path, due to its Cathedral and that its nearly two weeks into the challenge.

As I was looking for a place to have lunch in, I met with the three catalans. Its easy to spot them as they always wear fluorescent orange t-shirts form their marathon club.

"Peregrinoooos" (Pilgrims) I always shout at them. They were also going for lunch so we joined forces.

Before we did they showed me round the Pilgrim Albergue of Burgos. Its is simply magnificent, even better than the one at Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Lots of space, four people to each area, plenty of showers, and all for five euros right next to the Cathedral. I was amazed by the investment, and knew it was most probably tax payers money. Good for pilgrims, bad for taxpayers! Having said that, it probably means that a lot of cash is spent in the shops and restaurants in the area, as well as in Cathedral tickets.

After looking at a few places we settled for "Restaurante Trol" where we had an acceptably good menu: "lentejas a la burgalesa, ternera asada y leche frita" (lentils, beef and "fried milk" as dessert). All for 12 euros...its the big City so 2 euro more expensive than in all the previous places.

The three were throwing the towel at Burgos as one of them had an increasing ankle pain and was no longer enjoying it. So we cheered good luck to each other over a good local wine and hoped we would coincide in the future.

I haven't asked for e-mails or exchanged details with anyone yet. I feel that "what happens in the Camino is meant to stay in it". I don't have the inclination to try to prolong the short relationships that develop along the Path. We all have a common target, but I'm sure that the reasons for it make us be quite different back in civilian life. Wait and see, it might change when I get to Santiago.

The Catalans insisted that if I make it Santiago I would walk it again. One of them has and kept saying its addictive. I still don't see that happening - there are way too many places to visit before repeating the same destination (except Munich Starkbierfest of course...which must be done every year for a weekend!).

After lunch, and with temperatures hitting 33 degrees celsius, the best option was to visit the Cathedral - the coolest place in Burgos (temperature wise). It reminds me of the huge supermarkets and malls where old people in cities go to spend the day as its the only free place with air-conditioning and plenty of seating place.

Armed with my Pilgrim Passport I obtained the half priced ticket which included an audio-guide (3,50 euro).

Its starting to look as if I'm a church lover with all my recent visits. That is still not the case, but the history and arquitecture of the Burgos Cathedral is guaranteed to amaze anyone. The audio-guide was very interesting and I slowly advanced along the different areas. I believe it took me around two hours in total.

The amount of works of art in wood, stone, paintings and the building itself are just jaw dropping. But my favourite is certainly the "Papamoscas" (literally "the fly eater"). Its a figure of a medieval man attached to the clock bell by the arm. Each hour it strikes the bell, and at the same time opens and closes its mouth. It certainly looks like its trying to catch flies and eat them.

With the Spanish sun still shining stringly at 6pm, I put myself to cool and dry in the hotel room until my stomach grumbled "tapas".

I should have gone out earlier as it was Friday and every soul in Burgos had decided to go for a drink and some food. I tried to get into several bars in vain, they were all overflowing with families and large groups.

I had to walk past the Calle San Lorenzo (one of the main tapas streets), until I arrived at an area closer to the Cathedral where they were only just full.

But the effort was worth it - new tapas types: "mejillones" with vegetables, a bocadillo of "morcilla de burgos" and one of "calamares". All of it was less than six euros and I could not eat more!

I returned to the hotel to watch some news on the TV, and appreciated that my room did not have its window to the outside. Tonight all the area's shops were open until midnight, there was music in the streets and plenty of clowns ans musicians to attract buyers. In one of the clothes shops they even had a naked model on display and they were doing body painting with her. This had quickly blocked the street with children and adults alike! I have to admit it was "different", although the model herself was slightly on the overweight side...the "before" the diet photograph.

Had I been on a drinking bender, at 1,50 euro the pint of Carlsberg, I think I could have been a happy man and none the poorer.
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