Day 9, Oct 7: San Juan de Ortega to Burgos, 15.6mi

Because I walked long yesterday, I was able to do a more reasonable-length walk today and get into Burgos in the early afternoon.  Burgos has a population of 180,000, and in my estimation is a beautiful and welcoming bigger city.  I found some intesting info in my guidebook by John Brierly, about Burgos.  It is sometimes referred to as the Gothic capital of Spain, and was home to warlord El Cid.  Count Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, known as El Cid a Muslim title of respect, was born in Burgos in 1040 and the Camino passes the site of his house.  There are many beautiful architectural structures, one being the Cathedral in Plaza Santa Maria.  It was very close to the Albergue I chose to stay in, and I bought a ticket to see the inside plus museum for a Pilgrim’s price of 4 euros.  Many cathedrals provide a discount for Pilgrims, which is very nice.

I entered the city walking near a couple pilgrims who I heard were speaking English.  Particularly in the bigger cities, I like to try to “position” myself near someone so we can navigate our way in together.  In the small towns, the signs and arrows are very obvious, and it’s not hard to follow at all.  In the bigger cities, there is so much else going on, signage-wise/traffic/people, that it’s not always as obvious.  I joined up with Jessica, from Seattle, and Matz from Sweden.  Jessica had recently graduated with a degree in Spanish, and spent a year living here, so she was very helpful.  As we chatted, I asked her a few questions I had about the language.

The Spanish I have learned is Latin American Spanish.  The language here is a bit different; there are two (actually, there are more) versions called Castellano and Catalan.  Catalan is spoken in Barcelona and some other regions of southern Spain, and is a unique version of Spanish incorportating some French and other adaptations.  Castelleno is spoken throughout most of Spain, esp central and northern, and then there is Basque which is coastal-northern Spain and I don’t really know how to describe it!  I have made a Camino-friend, Ricardo, who is a newly-retired police officer from the Basque region.  He speaks Castellano with me, though, and is very patient with my mistakes!  He and I met on Day 3, and have met up every so often on the Camino or in a city here and there, which is very common while doing this journey.  People will walk fast/slow, long/short, take breaks or stop any which-place, and then you’re reunite with them days down the road and it is so fun to do this!  You’ll greet one another like you’re old friends, and catch up on what you’ve been doing the past few days.  This is was makes the Camino “family”, or “commmunity”, and is a very special dynamic.

Jessica and Matz and I navigated our way to the Albergues; there were 2 close to each other.  One was a large Association Albergue, and I read in my guidebook that the other was small, only 16 beds and “fills early”.  Since I had arrived much earlier than I usually do, I walked a few streets over to check it out and immediately decided to stay.  It was situated right above a chapel, felt clean and peaceful, and only cost 5 euros!  I got the 2nd-to-last bed and felt grateful.  Both albergues were located very near the Cathedral, and many shops and restaurants.  I settled in, then headed back out with a much-lightened backpack to tour around.

Between 1:30 and 4:30, it is typical here that many shops are closed.  I did have one important errand to do:  buy some pants.  Unfortunately I seemed to have left my “lounging”/sleeping pants back in Santo Domingo and needed to replace them.  As I headed out to explore, it was around 2pm and many places were closed.

It was a great sign to take the opportunity for some down-time and I found a bench next to a lovely, peaceful walkway along the river to read and relax for about an hour and a half, after I had walked over to visit the beautiful, and huge Cathedral.

I asked a couple young women walking by if they would point me in the direction of a good area to find shops to find the kind of pants I was looking for (this is all in Spanish…Castelleno :) ).  As is typical, the two ladies were so helpful, friendly, and willing to talk to me and refer me to specific stores with “good prices and good quality”, I truly felt they cared about what I was asking and it was so kind.  I did end up finding the store they told me about, and bought myself some Spanish “cozy pants” (that’s what I call them).

It was around 5pm, and I looked for a restaurant to eat dinner.  This is early for Spanish dinner.  Places start till fill around 8pm.  So it was great because there were no crowds.  I chose a place right next to my Albergue, and it was a GREAT find.  If you know me, or have been noticing in my blogs, I love food.  So the experience of difference foods here is so fun to me.

I was the only one at this restaurant, and the owner/server was so gracious.  I wanted to eat outside to be able to people-watch, but the sun had sunk behind the buildings so it was a little chilly.  The server brought me two blankets!  I couldnt believe it!  I tucked them around me and was comfortable as could be.  He and I discussed a couple items on the menu and I ordered gazpacho, ensalada (salad) that me made especially for me becuase it wasn’t quite on the menu, and 2 pastry-wrapped items (can’t remember their names), one with cream and mushrooms, and the other with rice, bacon and tomato sauce.  And two glasses of wine.  And bread.  ….He commented on my appetite!  It was a very fun expereience.  He brought things out one at a time; as is common in Spain to enjoy each dish and not rush the meal.

At 7pm, I went to the chapel service just below my albergue, where they offered a “Pilgrim’s blessing”.  Many churches do this, every night!  It was lovely, and only about 35 minutes long.  After that, I walked to a nearby “chocolateria” that I had seen earlier, and ordered dessert.  I brought that back to the Albergue and sat at the community table to do some emailing and blogging, with other guests doing similar tasks.  I ate my dessert and was so satisfied.  I felt like I was sitting at a kitchen table with a bunch of “family members”; no one talking, all emailing and reading.  It was so peaceful.  I really enjoyed my day in Burgos.

Me and my Basque friend Ricardo, on the Camino on the way to Burgos.

Me and my Basque friend Ricardo, on the Camino on the way to Burgos.

 

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Albergue “Divina Pastora”, a small 16-bed place located above a chapel. So peaceful, home-y, and enjoyable. I felt lucky to get the second-to-last bed around 1:30pm.

Catedral de Santa Maria XIII, one of Spain's largest cathedrals.  The medieval streets that surround it are designated a  World Heritage Site.

Catedral de Santa Maria XIII, one of Spain’s largest cathedrals. The medieval streets that surround it are designated a World Heritage Site.

Amazing interior of the Catedral de Santa Maria; I took an audio tour and it was very interesting.

Amazing interior of the Catedral de Santa Maria; I took an audio tour and it was very interesting.

 

Took time to relax on a bench by a beautiful walking/cycling path by the river.

Took time to relax on a bench by a beautiful walking/cycling path by the river.

 

Special "ensalada" made for me by the server at my dinner restaurant.

Special “ensalada” made for me by the server at my dinner restaurant.

 

Exceptional pastry-wrapped rice, bacon, and spices item.  The server commented on my appetite!  ..Hope you appreciate all my foodie-photos; it's a really fun part of travel (uhhh, and life!) for me!

Exceptional pastry-wrapped rice, bacon, and spices item. The server commented on my appetite! ..Hope you appreciate all my foodie-photos; it’s a really fun part of travel (uhhh, and life!) for me!

 

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