Into the City of Burgos

April 12, 2015image image image image

San Juan to Burgos (180 000 people)
7:25 AM to 2:25 PM
27.58 km in 7 hrs

When we left San Juan it was three degrees Celsius. By 10 AM I had shed gloves, headband, jacket and sweater. By 11 AM I unzipped the legs off my pants. It is 16c here in Burgos but feels like 24C. Our fancy hotel room at Meson Del Cid has a tub! Brian was the first in! We are across Plaza Maria from the huge Cathedral.

We saw a lone bull in the oak forest, two busy munching to smile for us. I hope he was not munching the wild mushrooms. The sign said that only authorized persons could collect them. We did not see any mushrooms.

We passed into rocky meadow and the path was extremely rocky, very hard on our feet. We were In a deep sea of fog; so, as we climbed the steep path (is there any climb not steep?), we heard rather than saw a flock of sheep, some wearing bells.

To the left of our path was a military zone surrounded with barbed wire.

We went down 100 metres to the paleontological village of Atapuerca, a world heritage site. We would have had to go three kilometres off the route to the interpretive centre that talks about life there 900000 years ago. We did not do this. We climbed 200 metres in altitude to the Cruz de Matagrande, a huge cross at 1080 metres.

We descended into a more fertile valley with a quarry site on one side. The steep descent was torture for Brian’s knee.

We took regular breaks and changed socks. One of our best snacks was fresh strawberries. We took the alternate route to Burgos via Castanares. This was to be more scenic than following the pavement through the industrial area. Going around the airport field was on a hard packed dirt road and into the back side of Castanares…not very scenic, but less hard than pavement. We had some lunch then turned too soon. We took a different alternate route that went through the seedy side of Burgos: rundown buildings, parts that looked like a war zone, back alleys, lots of graffiti, some very poor looking dwellings in old industrial buildings. The good news is that we eventually rejoined the main Camino and arrived in the old centre beside this magnificent cathedral.

Later…we each had a bubble bath. Wonderful! We washed out some of our clothes but we cannot hang them out the window. Hopefully everything will dry overnight.

Yesterday we attended mass in the church in San Juan. We wore our longjohns and everything extra we had. The stone walls of the church are five feet thick. It felt is if we were in a cold storage room. We could see our breath as we have our responses during mass. The priest must feel the cold too. Mass was only thirty minutes after which he gave us a pilgrims’ blessing.

We had a unique black bean and rice dish last night that appeared to be made into sausage casings. Delicious. Will have to google that recipe.

The church bells did not ring last night! How very odd! They usually signal every quarter hour. We measure how good our sleep was by the number of bells we do not hear. But last night none rang at all, even when we were expecting them.



  1. You’re well past the 1/3 mark, say about 37-38% of the way on The Way – great going!
    In Canadian terms, your walk on El Camino is roughly equal in distance to the drive from Windsor to Cornwall, ON, and you’re currently resting in the vicinity of Kitchener-Waterloo – but there’s no architecture along our route that compares with the splendour of that plaza and eight-century-old cathedral in Burgos – again, whole different world!

  2. If you are taking a rest day, tour he cathedral, it is splendid. The little train that leaves the west side of the cathedral square gives a good history of Burgos and involves no walking. A shared jug of sangria in the plaza mayor with the locals in the late afternoon sun is wonderfully relaxing. You are so fortunate to being Burgos in springtime.

    1. We toured the cathedral but did not take a rest day to do so. There is a ton of history there! Sunday in the square was a people watching adventure! I wanted white roller skates with gold wheels like the little girl had whirling around the strollers.

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