July 17, 2008

Day 59: 11 June- Ages to Burgos

Pretty much everyone left Ages early, presumably to get maximum time to see Burgos. I was gone from the hostel by 6.30am, and found the early morning walk quite magical. There was some mist hanging around, and lots of early morning birdsong. Very special.

Atapuerca was the next village along, and I had read about this place a few years back, as some of the earliest human remains in Europe have been found here. But it turned out you could only see the site itself some weekends if you booked ahead, and the visitor's centre never opened until 10am. I had a delicious breakfast in Atapuerca, and moved on. Maybe next time!!
Climbing up from Atapuerca, I passed this tall cross. Two days later I was to see a photograph of people in the process of erecting it. It was set on a wide flat plain covered with wildflowers.
There were a few muddy sections in the countryside en route, but mostly this part of the walk passed through pleasant countryside and a few villages. When I passed this drinks machine, it sort of summed up some of the differences between the walk in France and Spain. In France, where it was much less peopled, locals left out hot water etc for pilgrims to make their own coffee etc, with a small donation box nearby. Here, with the greater numbers, it was an impersonal drinks machine.
This wee dog has to make a blog appearance. He was the only dog in all of Spain that seemed really interested in having a piece of me. And he might have had it too. Except I was saved by the bus that passed by, separating us, with me on one side of the road, and doggie on the other.

Sooner than I had expected, I was nearing the outskirts of Burgos. Francis passed me with tales of the horrors of the San Juan albergue (and he is not one given to complaining so it must have been bad!) Then Jenna, the young Canadian, came by. She could have walked on much more quickly than me, but kept me company. It was all her doing that I was kept on the straight and narrow, and walked the whole 8km through industrial/residential Burgos, instead of taking the bus. (But once is enough. If I ever do this walk again I have made some resolutions. One is to take longer, and go more slowly, and investigate all the little things along the way in Spain as I had done in France. The other is not to feel obliged to walk every step of the way, and this stretch into Burgos is one stretch that will be bussed!)

When I reached town I diverted to post a few postcards. Then I found that the albergue in town, Catalina, was already full. And it was a little chaotic there, with some German women in a panic as they had sent their luggage on but it hadn't arrived there, as you can't send it there...... So I carried on walking through town to the municipal albergue, which seemed like quite a trial at the time as I was feeling both tired and hungry. However, I am so glad that is the way it turned out. Lots of people I knew from the walk also turned up there- Francis, Jenna, Mick with his shoulder dislocated... Then Lyne and Denis, who I hadn't seen for several days, arrived, and that was a joyful reunion. The albergue had lots of bunks crowded together, but it was a cheerful friendly kind of place set in a park. (Apparently it also had some serious snoring action during the night... but ahhhhhhh earplugs can be wonderful things!)
After siesta time several of us caught the bus back into town to see the Cathedral. It was an incredible and amazing building, with many side chapels full of elaborate altars, mostly in the baroque style. There were lots of Flemish paintings, and El Cid's tomb. It was all very splendid. But strangely, for those of us who had walked so long in the countryside, it was too much. It said a lot about Power.
For me, I enjoyed the relaxation of sitting outside the Cathedral next to this other pilgrim I bumped into.
That evening a group of us wandered up the road from the albergue to the university hall of residence dining room where we were welcome to eat. It was a cheap, filling meal, that brought back quite a few memories of life in a past age as a student!

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