Camino Francés 2021 – Day 1 – Burgos to Hornillos del Camino

September 1st 2021 – Day 1

So my first day of walking had arrived. Today I walk from Burgos to Hornillos del Camino, a town I have never stayed in. I look forward to the day ahead. However, Burgos was greeted by a thunderstown during the night and when I got up at 7am, I peeled back the curtain, I saw the heavy rain. I had my rain gear at the ready though. On with the rain jacket and rain cover on my backpack. I hoped it was just a shower or two. After a short breakfast, I took my first steps. Ugh! Hardly ideal, but it was set to clear, the forecasters had told us. Leaving Burgos, the Camino takes us along the River Arlanzón until the Monastario de las Huelgas. I usually stick to the main road until I see the University of Burgos and that is what I did this year. The rain was beginning to ease at this time but not soon enough to take the rain jacket off. I see my first pilgrim at the University and in my vain attempt to introduce myself, she takes a long stride and is far away from me. I guess I am alone for the time being.

Burgos to Hornillos del Camino
On the way from Burgos

It is about this time the Camino from Burgos to Hornillos del Camino veers away from the city streets to the country walkways until Tardajos. I begin to find my feet and catch up with some pilgrims. Pilgrims from France, Germany and Spain – a wonderful mix. The scenery is just how I remembered it from 2017 – like someone through a beige blanket over the countryside. The odd flower / sun flower can be seen sprouting out and I stop to take a photo. The ground is wet and muddy from the recent rains. I look forward to Tardajos so I can stop for a much needed cafe con leche.

I had reserved a bunk bed in Albergue Hornillos Meeting Point in Hornillos so I was in no great hurry to arrive. Having walked from Burgos on three other occasions, I usually choose Hontanas as my place to stay which is another 10 kilometres. But I wanted to change things up this year.

Burgos to Hornillos del Camino

I arrived at Tardajos close to 10am. The cafe here was full at the time so rather than stay, I bought some fruit and ate away from the crowd. The sun was starting to peak through the clouds at this stage. The next village was Rabe de Calzadas which is another 2 km away. I made the decision to walk on and get a cafe con leche in Rabe, which is noted as the gateway to the Meseta.

What is left to Santiago!

Rabe de Calzadas is an interesting town for two reasons – it has colourful artwork and it has the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Monasterio. I always prefer the bars for their Aquarius, which you cannot find in Ireland and a quick tapa. I must have stayed here for a half an hour, just taking everything in.

From Rabe de las Calzadas, the Camino changes dramatically. Everything is field upon field and rows and rows of sunflowers. There is no immediate end – the Camino goes onto the distance. There is a gradual increase in ascent here and I did struggle at times in the final 10 kms. The most recognisable photo from this stage is one taken at the top of Alto de Meseta – some 950 metres high. There is a 150 metre drop to Hornillos del Camino and for some, this can be challenging. Hornillos can be seen far in the distance however it does take about an hour to get there.

I arrived in Hornillos just after midday. This is a one-way street and it is very much a pilgrim town. My albergue wasn’t open at the time but there was a sign outside to say it was ‘completo’. I looked around the town. The other albergues seemed to be completo also (not including the municipal). I met a couple of American pilgrims staying in the same albergue (their names escape me), they had walked from St Jean. I met John from Missouri, USA who was walking his 4th Camino. And I met Laura from Florida who had started in St Jean also. Covid restrictions had cut back how many rooms were being offered in this albergue but it did not dampen the experience. Linda arrived with Linda from Germany and we had dinner with Andreas from Switzerland.

The next day would be much of the same – rolling hills and meseta until the eyes can see.

Field upon field of sunflowers

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Buen Camino!

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