The alarm buzzed and we laid in bed still pondering whether we should walk or take a taxi to Burgos (27.6 km away). I still felt terrible with a head cold and sore throat. I rushed to look out the window, in the back of my mind hoping it was pouring down rain as it would be an easier decision. The sky looked like it had cleared for the most part, but it was still freezing. On one hand I didn’t want to give in, take a taxi and miss walking a day of the Camino. On the other hand, I was sick, feeling awful and walking in the cold could make me even worse. The last thing I wanted was to jeopardize making it to Compostella. We also didn’t have any warm fleece or jacket. It was the first time we thought we had under packed.
We finally decided that hopping a taxi was the smart way to go. In the end everyone’s Camino is their own and one person’s Camino is very different from the next. The significance of the Camino is not how fast you walk or how many exact kilometers you cover. It’s about your personal journey through the time you spend on the Camino. Every journey is different and every person creates their own Camino. It is not a competition (although some take it as one). There are no rules. There are no time constraints. There is no right or wrong. There is only “My Camino”.
As we were getting ready to leave Casa Rural Henera, we saw Diane, a nice women from Dallas, Texas. We had previously met in La Estella. After discovering that she was also forgoing the walk to Burgos, we all decided to share a taxi. Diane was having a difficult time with the Camino both physically and emotionally. She’s a bit overweight and out of shape. And, the gusting winds were not helping to cheer her up. Diane told us she had certain expectations that needed to be let go. That sometimes she was having doubts on what she was doing here. I think she also felt bad because she walks slow and is always arriving at the town last. We told her it’s not a race or competition and she should be proud she’s doing the Camino. Diane felt like everyone has a stereotype version of what the Camino is. She’s now realizing it’s her Camino and it’s okay for her to do it her way, however she chooses. And, that she’ll get out of it what she needs.
Within 30 minutes we arrived in the beautiful city of Burgos. Evidence of human life around Burgos dates back 1 million years. On the taxi ride to Burgos we passed the archeological site of Atapuerca. Fossils, stones and caves of the earliest known humans in Western Europe have been discovered in several excavations. Our Norte y Londres Hotel was ideally situated near the center of old town Burgos, not far from the main attraction, the Cathedral. While in Burgos, our main objective was to get well until we began walking the Camino again. First priority was to buy warmer clothes, particularly a fleece. We found the only small sporting store in the newer part of town and bought matching (different colors) fleeces. No trip to a Spanish city is complete without sampling the local tapas and wine. On a recommendation from Paul from Belorado, we went to Pecaditos Tapas Bar. Upon entering you pick up a paper slip to check off what tapas you want to order. Everything on the list is only 1 euro, how cheap! Shortly after a few tapas and glasses of “Rioja Crianza”, we were both feeling great.
The main attraction in Burgos is the 12-15th century Gothic Cathedral. It’s really an astonishing site situated smack in the middle of the city. It was on the level of St. Stephen’s in Vienna, Austria. The impressive construction is massive and different views can be admired from every angle of the site. We’ve seen so many churches that we normally pass up going inside, especially if you have to pay. However, we both felt compelled to take the tour of the Burgos Cathedral. It was a bonus that pilgrims can enter for a discounted a rate of 3.50 euros. The tour included an English headset that lead us through numbered stops organized quite well throughout the inside of the structure. Besides the elaborate main retablo (behind the alter) in the Capilla Mayor, there are 17 chapels containing intricate alters and impressive artwork. There are also several significant tombs. Having been built over centuries, numerous artists and architects have contributed various styles. These are evident when observing their impressive paintings, sculptures, retablos, tombs, tapestries, and carvings. Once inside the Cathedral, you are trapped in a maze of Catholicism. The tour took us well over a hour, but more more time can be devoted to exploring the depths of the Cathedral.
We enjoyed spending two days in this old Spanish city, but more importantly I was feeling much better after having a long rest from walking. It was definitely what I needed to continue back on our journey along “The Camino de Santiago”. Healthy and refreshed, we are eager to get back on the road continuing on through the Mesata, Spain’s high central plateau, to the village of Castrojeriz.
See our Photo Album:
El Camino: Day 13-14 (San Juan de Ortega to Burgos)