Camino Frances 2018 – A 2nd day in Burgos, Burgos Cathedral and Home

September 20th & 21st, 2018 – Day 9 & 10
Burgos

It was an early morning. Truth be told I should have stayed in a private room and got a few hours more sleep. The albergue wanted everyone to leave before 8am. Poor me! So I got up, packed and had breakfast in the cafe across from the albergue. I was delighted to be joined by Jim who decided to take a day’s rest. He was having some foot problems and wanted to rest before tackling the meseta. I also met 2 Argentinian pilgrims – Marcos and Santiago. They had pretty good English but I encouraged them to speak Spanish to me so I can improve on that front.

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Jim, Marcos and Santiago, on no walking days

After breakfast, we all agreed to visit the Cathedral. Bringing your credential gets you a pilgrim rate, so that’s handy. Even though I’ve been in the Cathedral twice before, I am blown away by the work. It is always full with tourists so early morning is a good time. You get an audio tour too. The following image was posted on Instagram and has been shared by the Spanish tourist board.

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The rear of Burgos Cathedral

And some photos of the interior of the Cathedral…

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Afterward, I checked in to a Hostal that I had booked before arriving in Burgos. I left my bag there and walked back to the cafe outside the albergue. Jim was there and there was already a healthy queue forming with pilgrims for the albergue. The beat goes on. It was good to see some people that I met along the Way and I lost touch. We shared stories over a drink and swapped contact details.

Later that evening, I visited a friend who lives in Burgos and afterward I went back to the hostal to pack for the bus to Bilbao. My Camino was closing to an end but the many people I had met had weeks to go yet, I hoped to follow them to Santiago.

Until next year.

Camino Frances 2018 – Atapuerca to Burgos

September 19th, 2018 – Day 8
Atapuerca to Burgos, 18km

Another early morning. Most of the albergue was awake having their breakfast in some shape or form. Bruno, Jim, Karsten, Ben and Blanka were all eager to reach Burgos. But it was quite a cold morning. Fog had descended during the night and there was danger it would still be in the hills if we left too early. We had the stars to guide us so. Jim decided to hold back and walk with Ben so I walked on with Karsten, Bruno and Blanka. We would meet in Burgos, however.

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Leaving Atapauerca, we had a short climb ahead of us to get to the Matagrande. Onwards I went passing Villafria with no bar open for breakfast. The road was quiet and there was almost an eerie sense with the low fog and the stars out. We stopped for a bit when we reached the Sierra de Atapuerca and looked back at the climb we achieved. The sun was peeking over the horizon but it wasn’t ready to make an appearance just yet.

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There was plenty of chat among us and I was happy to learn that a friend of Bruno’s family had entered and contested the Rose of Tralee. So he was Irish in my books. I had his novel in my backpack and I was looking forward to diving into it headfirst once I returned home. We stopped at Cardenuela Riopico for some breakfast, however, Blanka decided her foot would feel better if she walked on and did not stop. We would meet again in Burgos. I witnessed my final sunrise on this Camino – it was magical, while having a croissant and cafe con leche. After a while, the 3 amigos, Bruno, Karsten and myself walked on to Burgos. The sun was up but there was still a chill in the air.

We still had a good 2 hours yet before we reached the albergue. There was much talk about an alternative route, to avoid the slog through the industrial area into Burgos. The alternative meant following the River Pico into the city – it is somewhat more scenic. This diversion is laid out on a sign at the side of the road and it gives pilgrims directions into Burgos. Most guidebooks would have this alternative listed.

We were in Burgos by midday and at the albergue shortly after. The albergue is close by the gothic cathedral standing tall in the main square. There is already a queue as we arrive and we sit in the cafe to wait. There is no hurry. This albergue has many beds! Soon, I see Jim and Ben and Blanka and I meet new faces. I decide to visit the Cathedral the following day as I have a day spare. All I have to do now is check-in and find somewhere to eat!

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Shortly, I saw Doug again. It’s amazing how the big cities bring everyone together again. Later that evening, Karsten, Doug and I went for a meal in Burgos. It was pretty filling. We went back to the cafe outside the albergue and chatted to our fellow pilgrims. It was sad not to be walking with them. But some would be taking a rest day so I would enjoy their company the following day before I travelled to Bilbao.

An Exciting Few Months…

It may as well be April. The clocks have gone forward and already the first sign of summer is in the air. Friends have reached Santiago already (Buen Camino L!) which only increases my urgency to return to Spain and search for the yellow arrows. But the next few months are busy. You could say I have started my Camino…but I have not yet left my home.

As mentioned previously, the first annual Celtic Camino Festival kicks off in Westport in Co. Mayo from April 13th. I will be attending for the weekend. I have the train booked, the hotel arranged and all events booked. April 13th sees the screening of excellent “The Camino Voyage” directed by Donal O Ceallachair – A crew including a Writer, two Musicians, an Artist and a Stonemason embark on the Camino not on land, but by sea, in a traditional boat that they built themselves on an inspiring, and often time’s dangerous, 2,500 km modern-day Celtic Odyssey. April 14th will see presentations, discussions & workshops by internationally renowned Camino experts. A Gala Dinner will follow with Spanish music and dance. And April 15th, there will be a Celtic Camino Pilgrim Walk of up to 25km along the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail & Tochar Padraig, including Mass in Ballintubber Abbey. It promises to be a fantastic weekend and we hope to see you there!

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If this interests you and you wish to attend, Camino Society Ireland along with Irish Rail are offering you the chance to win free travel and tickets to all events for two. Just go to this link to enter http://www.irishrail.ie/fare-and-tickets/camino-festival.

Following the weekend, it is just a matter of weeks until I set off to A Guarda in Southern Galicia on the Portuguese Camino. From there I walk to Santiago with my brother and it will be his first time on any Camino. What a trip for him?! Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog if you want to be kept updated while I am on my Camino in Spain as I will be updating the blog.

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Camino Frances 2017 – Day 9 – Villavante to Santibañez de Valdeiglesias

Camino 2017 – Day 9 – Villavante to Santibañez de Valdeiglesias – September 13th
Penultimate day from one small town to another..

Second to last day of walking. It would be a short day as well. I had already began thinking of returning to work, which is a no-no while on Camino. Sigh. Anyway, moving on. I had yet to reach one of my favourite towns, Astorga, and of course, make my journey to Santiago.

The evening before I had no idea where the following day would end. Hospital de Orbigo was only 5km away. The next town after, Villares de Órbigo is just 8km while Astorga is a whopping 24km. Note my sarcasm there 🙂 So I would walk until my feet told me not to.

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I woke in Santa Lucia at 6.30am…a late start for me! I left the albergue at 7am, after some breakfast. Last night’s sleep was poor. I woke a number of times and at one stage, someone had the cheek to pinch my 5th toe, possibly due to my snoring. The one toe that had a blister on it! The blister didn’t cause me any bother walking however. I was joined by a German couple on leaving the albergue and despite their lack of English (or my lack of German) we still managed a conversation. The sun was rising as we left the small village and aimed for Hospital de Orbigo. En route to Orbigo, you cross train tracks, walk over a motorway before seeing the water tower at the entrance of the town. It was quiet enough at this time of the morning, however. I said goodbye to the German couple here as I wanted to see more of the town. Nothing was open, as expected. Even Albergue Verde, one place that was on my list of must-sees. Another time. I crossed the bridge and moved through the town. It is one long road but seems to go on forever. I’ve walked through here on three occasions; 2012, 2015 and this year. It never changes, that’s the beauty of it.

I arrived at the exit of Orbigo and saw Robert from Germany who I first met in Arcahueja. It was a surprise to see him again however I knew he was having shin-splint problems. I was quite happy to walk at his pace for the day. We chose to take the road to the right, avoiding the main road. Now, we were back on a meseta-type trail until arriving at Astorga. We arrived at Villares de Órbigo at 8.30am and were greeted by a Danish lady who had started her Camino in St Jean. All three of us continued slowly to Santibañez and arrived at 9am. We stopped for a cafe con leche and took in the morning until Robert and our new friend parted company. Their destination this day was Astorga. My destination would be the albergue attached to this bar I was resting at – Albergue Camino Frances, with 14 beds. €20 with 3 course meal included. It wouldn’t open until 11am however so I had another hour to spare. It made sense to stop here. If I continued to Astorga, I would need to find a bed for an extra night as my bus to Santiago was to leave the following day.

This albergue was one of the smaller albergues I have stayed in, but well run. It looked like it was family-run. While waiting for it to open, Riley from the US and her friend from South Africa passed by. I was delighted to see them again. They were also aiming for Astorga and were looking forward to the change of scenery after the meseta.

Checking in was quick and I had my clothes washed and hung out to dry in no time. With temps of 25c, it was a perfect time for it. Dinner was at 7pm and I ate by myself, although I had been keeping in touch with a number of pilgrim friends by email. I was looked forward to moving on the following day.

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May is just a few months away..

Just a quick update on my plans for next year.

I would like to go back to Spain and walk the 800 km from St Jean to Santiago. Over the last 3 years, I have walked the majority of the Camino Frances in sections and I have completed Logrono to Santiago. The only part I have not walked is from St Jean to Logrono which is more or less 7 days of walking. I can’t see myself going back to do the 7 days only…I want to stay much longer.

So that brings me back to the start of the post. I have 25 days leave approved for 2014. Any leave you request over 14 days needs to be approved which is understandable. So, including weekends, I will have 33 days to work with in Spain.

Of course, this whole return depends on a lot of other things, for example, my mortgage which will be thrown on me once I find the right house / apartment.

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But..I have one tick on the diary in my head. What happens next is anyone’s guess? I will always regret not doing this last year. It took me two years and 500 km to convince myself that this is the only right way for me to walk the Camino and not in stages.  I’ve had far too many excuses – fitness, time, etc.

Even then, I can’t see the bug being shaken off me.

More updates to come.

Camino 2013 – Day 12 – Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon

Well here I am, sitting in a hotel room and I’ve come to the end of my camino. Logrono to Leon, 12 days long. I knew this day would come but I’ve not thought about it. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been taking each day as it comes and sticking to the same routine. I think I’ll be awake at 5am every day for the next while until I re-adjust. The thought of using a washing machine to clean my clothes will be considered a luxury and I won’t need a sleeping bag for a while just yet.
But no matter how little I lived on over the last while and how basic my life has been, I enjoyed it. A small backpack, boots and a fit body were all I needed and it is so easy for anyone to do the same. I saw people of all ages, the retired, elderly, students and middle aged people like myself take part. It’s not rocket science and all you need is a few weeks to spare.

Today, we started from the Albergue at Mansilla and we decided to take it easy. We left the albergue at close to 7am today and I don’t think I’ve walked as slow since I started. The 5 of us talked about anything and everything while reminding each other that today is a slow day should we rush off. I’ve done that plenty of times before. I took plenty of pictures; more than I’ve taken in the last week. It wasn’t long before we crested a large hill and saw the whole of Leon from a height. It’s a beautiful city and you can see it’s cathedral clearly on the right hand side.
The walk into Leon isn’t attractive at all and a few folks take the bus in from the outskirts. But I wasn’t going to do that. Even though I was finishing today, I wanted to get to the cathedral. Seeing it from afar made me want to get their sooner.
We arrived eventually after another high climb and ran to a donut shop..it was like sugar to a bee. A donut and one smoothie please. Nice! After that I walked with the guys to their Albergue for the night, the Benedictine monastery. I don’t think this compares with the last few albergues.
I walk to my own pension that I have pre booked before I left Dublin. It made sense to do so as the Albergue needs people to leave at 8am at the earliest. My bus is at 3pm tomorrow. A great sense of sadness came over me at that stage. There was no quick shower, washing clothes, and getting to talk to other pilgrims about their day. I sat in my room and wished I had arranged two or three more days walking. I sat there for 10 minutes at least and thought about the last 2 weeks and the people I have met. Sigh.
I needed to visit the cathedral to get some sort of completion. I paid the fee and walked around the monument taking in its stained glass windows, history and detailed craftwork. I also caught an impromptu performance by an American choir. The sound filled the cathedral. I finished up here and walked around the city before meeting Franco, Michel, Tanya and Carlos. Carlos has very limited English but I understood him fine with the Spanish I knew. He wished me a Buen Camino back home in Ireland before walking back to the albergue. The remainder took in the sights and had a MacDonald’s also. Wow that tasted good. We decided to meet up later on that evening for some food and drinks.
Later on, we found a great restaurant just beside the Cathedral which still served Menu del Peregrinos. It was getting close to 7pm at this stage and the Spanish people were coming out to eat so most restaurants there tend to finish serving pilgrims around 7pm. The price was €15 for a three course meal which is kind of steep for us but we sat down regardless. I really enjoyed this dinner. We talked about the last two week and I told them what parts to stay in after Leon. I was incredibly jealous of them heading off but tried not to show it. I gave them a keyring that I bought in Santiago last year and wanted them to place it on the Cruz de Ferro. I will buy another and keep it until next year hoping to do the same.
Until next year.