Friday, April 29, 2016
Distance: 21 km
7:20 – I’m up and out of the Municipal Albergue well before the 8:00 a.m. get-out time. I’m sure she meant “check-out” time but the German hospitalero who I dealt with yesterday clearly said “get-out time.” Why so early? They have to do the daily bedbug fumigation routine before the next wave of pilgrims arrive at noon.
7:30 – Breakfast across the street at Babia is good and cheap (but possibly not the most heart healthy). My ankle is much better – but not perfect – so when a lady sat down at my table and mentionsed that there was a record number at the hostel last night but Saturday and Sunday will be much slower, I decided to stay another night. My rational is that with a record crowd leaving this morning, I would be fighting for a bed in each of the next few small towns. The alternative is to stay in Burgos one more day and night, rest the ankle, and join the smaller group that will hit the road on Saturday. This option will allow me to walk at a more leisurely pace without the fear of missing a bed and I’ll have one more night to enjoy tapas in Burgos!
11:00 – There’s a large group of school kids in town today for a class trip to the cathedral and the pilgrim’s hostel. They’ve learned about the Camino de Santiago in school and this is a chance for them to dress up like early pilgrims and visit some of the sites they’ve studied.
11:45 – You can only stay one night at the municipal albergue so I’m out looking for a new place for tonight. I’m not too picky and would even consider the same place as the eight-year-olds because I’m sure they couldn’t be any noisier than the middle-aged European women who were in my dorm last night. The Camino grannies were loud and inconsiderate but to make matters worse, the physical layout of the massive hostel was also an issue. The newly remodelled hostel has many very impressive features but it also has four floors with about 80 beds per floor, no full-height walls, open stairwells, and most surfaces are either sound-deflecting stone, tile or concrete. Beds are arranged in groups of four but essentially each floor is just one big room.
I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and if I didn’t know better, I would have guessed I was sleeping outside a massive pork processing plant. Take 320 world class snorer-farters, stuff them with goose liver pate and a litre of red wine per person, then lock them in a drafty old stone building for the night and you get a rather unique ambience. I’d liken it to the combined sound of 200 pigs in an overturned transport truck, 26 cats in heat, an old windmill that has never been lubricated, two yodelling cowboys, a skate sharpening machine and a dozen asthmatic donkeys.
19:00 – Burgos has many fine restaurants and most offer a four-course Pilgrim’s Dinner that is great value for 8-10 Euros. Typically you get soup or salad, a large bowl of pasta, chicken or fish with potatoes, a small desert and unlimited wine. Tonight I’m dining with two new friends at Favorita, a local restaurant that has 10 years worth of Michelin decals on the window.
We shared a number of pinchos, including a smoked salmon and creame cheese crepe (above left) and goose pate under a cloud of whipped cheese topped with a dollop of fig jam and hit with a blow torch (above right). These two weren’t even the best we had but my phone died before we left and I didn’t get the money shot. Each small plate was 1.5€.
Saturday, April 30
8:00 – I ended up sharing a hotel room with Matt from Denver and Ramon from Barcelona. There were four single beds in the room and only the three of us so it seemed pretty luxurious after the crowded dorms.
It wasn’t until morning when I was checking that I hadn’t forgotten anything that I noticed the engraving above my bed. Lexington was the top sire in America every year from 1861 through 1874 and again in 1876 and 1878. His skeleton is still on display at the Smithsonian. I don’t think he had any ties with Spain so it’s not obvious why this 150 year old print would be here.
9:17 – My ankle/shin feels much better so I will walk today. I think I figured out what happened and a pharmacist that I saw last night said she agrees. It’s not a circulation issue but rather tendonitis complicated by me being dehydrated for several days. I’ve been taking electrolytes and using some topical cream and I’m now about “$4000 claimer” sound.
8:40 – You don’t have to walk far to find a garbage or recycling bin in Burgos. These appear to be very small but actually they’re about the size of a small car because the garbage is stored in an underground bin. A truck equipped with a large vacuum empire the bins every few days. You never see overflowing garbage cans in Burgos even though pedestrians and most residents drop all of their household waste and recyclables in these community bins.
9:00 – This spaniel knew the best spot in town for a morning snack. The street had about 10 shops and 6 were butchers!
9:40 – There’s more to Burgos than a quaint old walled city. Streets near the modern university had dozens of benches, extensive landscaping, public toilets, good lighting, and six distinct lanes: a stone dust track for joggers, a wide cobblestone path for pedestrians, two narrow paved lanes for bikes, one lane for regular vehicles and a HOV lane. Take note, Toronto!
11:17 – I was on the outskirts of the city when I heard what sounded like a group of guys playing soccer in the distance. It rememined me of my childhood as I grew up about five homes from the local high school and soccer / rugby field. When I got a bit closer I noticed the guard tower on the left. This was no school!
12:45 – There’s not much to see in the small town of Tardajos but the local bar (Bar Ruiz) serves a very nice sandwich of cured ham on crusty bread that has been softened with a layer of tomatoe paste and drizzled in olive oil.
15:00 – With the wind at my back, sun on my face, and my “eclectic” playlist in my earbuds, I got the feeling that I was on top of the world – literally and figuratively. The altitude isn’t much more than 1500 m but it feels higher when you take in the sweeping views of the Maseta.
16:10 – I have arrived in the town of Hornillos del Camino. A guidebook says that Hornillos provides “a welcome respite from the conspicuous consumerism of the city.” I’m not sure what to make of that. If by “conspicuous consumerism” they mean stores that are actually open and have items on the shelves, then I think the author and I will have to agree to disagree. I kinda like a town where I can pick up a pack of Mach III blades or a bottle of water without making an appointment with a 92-year-old lady who opens her store for an hour on Tuesday and Friday.
18:00 – The first two albergues were full but I got a bed at the third and final hostel – the only one with a resturant and bar. Why this one would be the last one to fill up, I don’t know, but it looks good so far.
29:30 – I shared a table in the bar with a Spanish guy who was about my age. He didn’t speak English and had no interest in playing charades or listening to my abysmal Spanish so we ate in silence. I’m now in bed and will get an early start for Castrojeriz.