Monthly Archives: August 2014

The glory of Burgos

River walk from our hotel takes you to the jewel of Burgos, the cathedral.

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First view of the cathedral gives you the glimpse of its magnificence.

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Here is the many views of the cathedral.

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This 17th century gateway is the most photographed in Burgos.

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We ran into our German friends at the Cathedral.

We went on a bus tour next.

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We took a tour of the cathedral that has many chapels inside and most of them constructed in the 14th and 15th century.

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For a rest day, we ended up wking over 7 miles and bumming around for almost 12 hours. It was all fun though and tomorrow we begin stage four into the Spanish desert.

San Juan de Ortega to Burgos

All I can say right now is we are all very hungry and none of the places are open. The hotel restaurant won’t open until 8:30. The plaza is deserted and the only place is this lousy bar. We are getting killed by the Spanish siesta and dinner hours. We are hangry birds! Other than that we are doing great.

Ok, back to the mystic you are used to. Since we missed the sunrise we were treated to a wonderful sunset.

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After our dinner meal I went to the church and enjoyed a quite meditation as beautiful music played in the background.

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We had 26 km to walk to Burgos, so we started early again. We were out before 6:30.

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It was another overcast morning and no sun to speak of. We made it to the first town before light. We made it to Atapurca, our second town, early before 8, only to hear loud sounds. We were excited at the aspect of an early breakfast. It turns out that the disco from last night was just ending, and the young men were coming out a little drunk after their late night party.

We decided to continue on to our next town which was over a rugged stony hill.

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After over 12 + km we were happy to see the first open place for eating breakfast.

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We had covered 13 km by then and enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Sakkar at that point decided to take a cab to the hotel in Burgos while the 4 of us continued our walk. We met a retired man from Switzerland who walked with us all the way into Burgos.

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After 2 weeks we are once again in a nice hotel ready to enjoy a rest day tomorrow. The sight seeing will have to wait till tomorrow and so will these
pastries. Here is a little teaser from Burgos.

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Signing off from Burgos as the town is about to come alive and we are ready to crash after a 26 km walk (our longest distance so far).

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A-team-that-can, a-team-that-can

Chug Chug Chug Chug – Team Camino keeps chugging along. Another 24 km down the hatch in record time. We had a nice rest day yesterday, and on top of it, today the weather cooperated by being overcast and cool this morning.

We stated again at 6:15 a.m. and made great progress, so much so that by the time we hit the first 2 towns, nothing was open. We reached the 3rd town by 9 a.m. and had already covered 9 km. unfortunately, overcast day means no beautiful sunrise pictures.

Night before in Belarado.

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Early morning leaving the alberge.

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Scenery was vast and open as we left the first two towns.

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We saw some caves along the way.

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As we were leaving after I breakfast we saw this fun sign showing us our progress.

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We reached our fourth village Villafranco by 10:30 by covering 12km by that time. The next town was San Juan De Ortega, our destination 12 km away. The hostel was originally dated from 14th century.

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From here we began our climb for next 5 km. The view changed completely as we were now in a beautiful forest area with evergreen trees.

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Toward the top of the mountain we had our picnic lunch.

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You might be able to see the slope in some of the above pictures. Overall we made great progress and were down in Sa Juan De Ortega. Population of the town 23 people, pilgrim bed approximately 90.

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Tomorrow our goal is to complete stage 3 by reaching Burgos some 26 km away.

A day in a Spanish village- aka a rest day in Belarado

We completed 2 weeks of walking with one rest day in Pamplona. In that two weeks we traveled from St Jean Pied De Port to Belardo, a total of approximately 240 km (150 miles).. We have seen some beautiful country side of Spain and couple of laerger cities (Pamplona and Logrono). We are in love with Spain. The country side is beautiful and peaceful. The larger cities are exotic and vibrant with life especially after Siesta time.

While the scenery is beautiful, and this journey has been an adventure of a life time, what you don’t get to see is all the blisters, backaches, bug bites and exhaustion. None of us have been immune to any of this, yet none of us is deterred and are fully committed to the journey (yes we need our break day to store up some energy for the next stages).

We have 2 days of long stretches to complete our next stage by getting in to Burgos, but I am getting ahead of myself.

So let’s talk about a day in a village. It was nice to have a private room where the noise was minimized. We still heard the 6 am church bell. We could still hear the pilgrims filling out the street and their click click of the staff as they went on the journey, while we lay in bed and enjoyed our precious sleep.

Here is the view from our alberege at 8 in the morning (no sunrise pictures today).

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At 9, we went to the restaurant and had our usual (cafe con lechwe, cafe Americana, or orange juice – you can guess who had what) along with chocolate croissant, tortilla de patata (our savior most morning – this is Spanish omelet and something we all can eat – as most other choices are ham) , and pastries. After that some shopping for few necessities. Center of all of this is typically a plaza where you sit and watch the life unfold.

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As we sat we saw this man saying hello to every one by name sitting and talking and singing his best imitation of Pavarati. Pretty soon he was serenading Sitara and us and showing his toe injury caused by a bull in Pamplona.

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From there we decided to walk to the river and soak our feet in the cold water (very therapeutic as cold water seems to reduce inflammation and freshens the leg).

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We ran into the boy named Arun who had brought his two pet turtles to the river with his dad.

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As we came back, our friend was making the round around the town and happen to be passing by the alberge. He entertained us with couple of more songs from his child hood days. Daniel is a very good singer and was willing to record his singing and the watching it as we replayed it for him (unfortunately I can’t upload the movie but here are some shots).

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We enjoyed our first sit down lunch of the trip. We started our lunch at 1 and by the time we finished it was little past 3. Since we bought our grocery this morning, we plan to cook our dinner tonight (we did that last night also). Tomorrow will be an early morning start again as we plan to cover 24 km.

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Santo Domingo to Bolerado

Santo Domingo turned out to be a cute little town that seems to have everything. Here is the glimpse of it.

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I finally convinced Vandana to give a semi-goofy pose (this one is on special request from Shalu).

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We thought long and hard about taking on this 22.5 km walk as it seemed a bit too much. Unfortunately there were not many options, as the 2 previous towns had only 1 alberge each and were all sold out for the night.

We knew we could do the distance (we have done that, but not in 80 degree temperatures). The simplest way to beat the heat is to start early, so once again we started early at 6:20.

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Once again the sunrise was sweet and wonderful and the morning was nice and comfortable.

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We made great time again and were enjoying a breakfast at Granon some 6 km away by 8 am. We came across the sun flower fields again today (we had seen them coming out of Pomplona). The Pilgrims were showcasing their creativity and boredom by creating art work out of these sunflowers, I guess; I will leave it for you to decide the winner.

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Today’s walk was lot easier, as we had a town every 4 km and it broke the monotony of the walk while we walked through the vast expansive landscape where the view changed very slowly as we walked.

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We are few days from Burgos and we saw the glimpse of it as we saw the sign welcoming us to Burgos province.

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We are now all settled in Bolerado. We are thinking of taking a rest day tomorrow, before making our big push to complete stage 3 by reaching Borgos.

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Najera to Santo Domingo

Today’s route was 21 km long. Based on how hot it’s been, we decided we should leave early. We were out of the alberge by 6:20 am (sunrise is at 7:23). IMG_3821.JPG

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We were able to navigate through the town due to street lights, but soon we were on a trail with other pilgrims in the dark. All of us were motivated to make good progress while it is very pleasant and peaceful. As you can see from some of the pictures how dark it was, I was able to play with my camera to get the pictures ( I could not get the faces while getting the silhouettes).

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Sun rise once again was magnificent. It is so wonderful to be out in the nature and witness one of God’s free gifts that we get everyday.

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By 8:15 we had already made it to the town of Azofra some 7 km away and were enjoying our breakfast.

Today’s selfie is a group selfie. You will have to figure out who is who!

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The next town was 10 km away and by 9 am the sun was beating down on us from behind. As Sakkar pointed out, the only shade we had was our own shadow. Fortunately there was a cool breeze pushing on us as we climbed forward.

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Wide open fields were beautiful and an occasional tree was a welcome site and gathering ground for pilgrims. We saw the most number of pilgrims so far, probably because we could see them in front and behind just continue to walk.

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We finally reached Curuena town that had a golf course and all the buildings that looked similar. We decided to continue on without stoping in town.

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Finally when we reached the top of this hill with some shade, we all crashed down to enjoy some food and drink. We could feel that we were close to done but needed one more break before finishing for the day!
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On the way to town we saw this factory cleaning and packaging the potatoes.

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We are settled in our alberge now. It is amazing how a good night sleep gets you ready for another day! But for now, it is about relaxing, having a nice meal and then a good nights rest!

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Navarette to Najera

We started early today, as the weather has turned hot in the afternoon. While it is fifties in the morning and the mornings are pleasant, afternoon sun is relentless. The grapes enjoy the sun and become sweet; our pace comes to the crawl.

Our plan was to walk 17 km today. The first town was about 7 km away where we were hoping for our breakfast. The temperature was crisp and the sun beginning to rise from behind us.

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You can see the town behind us in the early morning sun. The road ahead is beginning to show the town of Ventosa.

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We took a 1 km detour to visit the town of Ventosa and enjoyed a nice breakfast. The next town was 10 km away without any water or food along the way. We left Ventosa by 10 am with a full belly and water bottles.

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I again took couple of selfies but this time with another person. You will have to guess who they are?

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Once again we found a food truck along the way. The rest
of the way was hot but pleasant. As we reached Najera, the new town was modern but the old town had the feel of Colorado mountain town.

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We once again got lucky and found an alberge with private room for 5 and a view of the river.

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After settling in and a quick snack we decided to visit San Millan Monastery of Yusso some 20km away (by taxi). One of the original gregorian chants book written some 500 years ago is still preserved here. Here are views of the Monastey and it’s hidden treasure for which Unisco has classified this site is world heritage site.

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That is all for today. We have a long day tomorrow so will be starting early.