The plan for today is to see how it goes or Daniel. He is doing much better today and so we decided to keep going instead of waiting and “resting” here.We can stop in the medieval town of Navarrete in 12.5 km or try and make it another 17.4 km to Najera. The day is mostly through the vineyards that produce the delicious wine of this area.
You leave Logrono via the only remaining city gate, Puerta del Camino. Carlos V rebuilt the gate, cica 152o.
In Navarrete we decided to take the very short day and give Dan a semi rest day. Walking into town we followed the signs to a private Albergue, since the municipal would not be open at 1030 am. Luckily they had a private room (shared bath) and let us check in. We showered and did the laundry by hand as usual. This town also had one further attraction a really great Pharmacy where we got some expert advice. Here we got some Anti-inflammatory cream and some silicone toe covers.
We had a lot of time to wander around the town where we ran into a few people who we knew. This included Claus the Dane. Sitting on the square we enjoyed a typical Pilgrim lunch. Later we were joined by Australian Teresa for a paella dinner. Fooled once only by the nice pictures on the signage for what turned out to be the same frozen and reheated food available on the entire Camino route. We never ate anything again unless they said they actually cooked it in the restaurant. We also ran into one of the “girls with a dog” Susan from Germany.
We “stepped it back up again today” with a “big” 17.4 km to Najera. At 7.5 km out you pass thru the village of Ventosa where we could finally stop for breakfast. This is usually had at a bar and consists of a cafe con leche and a croissant. Shortly after Ventosa the path winds up and passes between two small hills where pilgrims have built mounds of small stones.
We started out the day with Teresa, but as she was on a time crunch and we were still moving more slowly than our usual brisk 5.2 k /hr pass and she had to move on without us.
“Najera is a bustling market town of 8400. The name is derived from the Arabic of ‘between cliffs’ or place between the rock; and the city was reconquered in 923. Sancho the Great made Najera the capital of Navarre in the 11th century, shortly thereafter the pilgrims route was diverted via Najera from its more difficult route north.”
We arrived here about noon and the first private Albergue did not open until 1. We walked over to the municipal, which looked quite small and very basic and did not open until 1330. It is very hot today and we opted to try to get a private room back in the center. We managed to get one luckily since most of the rest of the place was filled with a French tour group.
The other issue we had now that was Dan’s problem right foot was better, but now he has developed a very painful left ankle. This is just a tendonitis from walking funny and favoring the right sore toes. But there is no shortage of well stocked pharmacies. here we got some icy cold rub and a compression sock (problem solved), well that and a 20 minute soak in the frigid river flowing thru the old part of the city.
While we were preparing dinner in the Albergue this elderly (and delirious) lady arrived whose name was Judy… We had heard a lot about her from others!!! She had walked she says 30 km that day and could not find her baggage or her friends. Many people choose not to carry their backpacks especially if they have for some reason brought huge pack and way too much stuff. There are several transport services that take your bag ahead for 7 E (10$) per day.
This is a good idea especially if you are injured or still struggling with a conservative weight pack. That and taking the bus or taxis is strictly on our will not do list! We can honestly say in Santiago when they asked that we walked EVERY step to get there no matter how difficult or painful. We think our idea to take it easy, but keep going forward slowly was better than just hanging out and resting in the same place. By now you almost have a compulsion to get up and walk. Plus we would get bored since resting does not include sightseeing and running around and Daniel is on the NO internet gig. Sara is not however and can check the weather and keep in touch with the other walkers we have met.
Now we are back on track with the “usual route” and we are headed 21.3 km to Santo domingo de la Calzada. The Camino Frances leaves Najera behind the Monastery of Santa Maria la Real. The route goes uphill along a dirt track through pine trees and across farmland heading towards Azofra, the first place to stop for breakfast and coffee.
Most of the walking today is through farmland well away from any roads. We started up the hill and managed to pass and then leave in the dust the huge French tour group.
Arriving in Santo Domingo we made the mistake of entering the first Albergue, which we though was the municipal, but in fact was the parochial (religious order run). It was in the end not bad as we got a bunk in a quieter room and by the window. The monastery also had a nice garden. The Municipal down towards the center of town was more modern. Ours had 3 toilets and showers for 40 beds, but at least its not 210 beds like the Municipal. It was pretty nice acording to thr “cool kids” Claus the Dane and Ali from Roma. Susan with the dog got lucky there too as they let her put her tent up in the courtyard. We did however have a fairly good kitchen and that is a bonus.
“Santo Domingo de la Calzada is most famous for the legend of the cock that crowed again. There, as is usually the case, are several version of this legend. A couple from Cologne were traveling to Santiago de Compostela on a pilgrimage with their son, Hugonell. Apparently the innkeepers daughter took a fancy to him and he virtuously resisted her advances. She took a silver goblet and hid it in his possessions, in the morning she denounced him as a thief and he was hanged. When his parent were preparing to depart they heard his voice telling him that he was still alive; St Dominic was holding him up by his feet. The parents ran off to tell the magistrate their story. He laughed and said their son was no more alive than the cock and hen on his plate. At that the birds grew feathers, jumped off the plate and fluttered around the room proving that their son was innocent. There are various versions of this legend in other routes to Santiago at Utrecht, in Toulouse, and Barcelos.”
“There is a Gothic carved pen for a cock and hen inside the cathedral, where you are asked not to take photos, while surrounded by pilgrims snapping away. The birds are changed every two weeks and the chicken coop is at the rear of the albergue run by the Spanish Confraternity. It is of course considered lucky if you hear the cock crow…” We did not however want to pay 8 Euros to enter the church.
Another slightly rough night in the dorms. This is because of the creaky metal beds with noisy plastic mattresses. Then compounded by noisy snoring and stuffy conditions. The worst is the people who get up well before its light and proceed to pack up all there stuff and shine their head lamps in your face. The even worse part is that these same people are still sitting around down in the lobby when you leave at least an hour later! Why get up and make so much racket if you are not leaving for hours! We do not like leaving before dark, but prefer to go just as the sun comes up you get some amazing light are in Spain.
Today we will go from La Calzada to Belorado, which is 24 km. Daniel is now almost fully recovered. We are making it by just taking it one day at a time and during the day one destination at a time. It is now about 12 degrees in the morning, but 24 by noon. We like to finish by mid day as it is much hotter in the afternoon.
Once again the Camino Frances follows closely to the N120. Most of the day it runs along side and occasionally diverts into towns and across fields. The route is fairly easy going underfoot with mostly gravel paths along the side of the road and farm tracks when away from the road; but as usual on the Camino there are many ups and downs.
Entering the town of Belorado we passed a private Albergue with a tempting pool and 5 Euro fee, but we kept going the 1 more km to town so we would not have to eat in restaurants today. The Municipal was a nice place with new bunks and the beds widely spaced. They also had a nice patio in the sun. There is also separate mens and ladies! As we arrived early we did some shopping for groceries and made a lunch meal to share with some others. Daniel is now well on the mend it seams and with the compression sock the left ankle is pain free and after a week I had sorted out the optimal taping job to keep his right foot in top shape!
Today we will walk 24.1 km to San juan de Ortega. Some important things you need to keep track of while walking is the possibility that there may not be ATM’s or grocery shops for days at a time and that you always need to plan and prepare. Today is a good example. There is no ATM for the next 2 days and no shops until after Villa Franca in 12 km.
Most of the day is easy walking until you leave Villafranca where the route starts to climb into the Montes de Oca. The climb can be steep at times, but the one saving grace are the trees where for shade. The day starts at about 800m and climbs to 1150m then back down to 1000m. For pilgrims of the past this was a treacherous stretch of road inhabited by bandits who would rob and kill pilgrims. We did stop in Villa Franca to get a fresh baguette and some meat and cheese for back up in a very tiny shop.
Arriving to San Juan de Ortega we were not that impressed. It is a one horse town literally (one bar no shop) and the Albergue looked sketchy. As it was still early we decided to press on another 3.6 km to Ages.
There are 3 places to say here and we elected for the municipal, which is run by the bar on the main floor. This is one huge room, but the beds are not too bad. Again there are just 2 toilets and 2 showers for all of the women, but at least we did not need to share with the men.
It seems a lot of others had the same reaction to Ortega, but as we were there early there was no issues for a bed for us. This is at most a 2 horse town. There is really nothing to see here except the tiny church and so we had time to just put our feet up and relax. We had a pretty good dinner in the bar as well.
There is beginning to be a consistency on the people you travel with, walk by, and sleep beside. Of of the ones we have been trying to avoid is this Spanish guy who snores terrible. It is a big joke if we see him to ask where he is staying and then go elsewhere. Another is a lovely German woman named Rita with whom we met up most days for the 6 weeks. She also is a very loud snorer, but terrible sorry about it. After a while her friend that she was traveling with refused to be lodged in the same room as her. Tonight we were lucky as we had a pretty quiet crew. The weather has been so good now that we get clean dry laundry every day, which is fantastic when you only have 2 outfits.
This now leave us only 21.4 km to get to Burgos today. The first half of the day is pleasant walking underfoot on country tracks with one short steep up and down over the Sierra de Atapuerca, the rest of the day wanders easily downward towards Burgos.
From the top of the Sierra de Atapuerca, after Atapuerca, you can see the massive Burgos suburbs ahead and the flatness of the following days on the Meseta stretch out before you.
Shortly after Atapuerca and about eight kilometers before Burgos there is a choice of routes. The right hand route is the older of the routes and it is through an industrial area, it is said to be an unpleasant walk. Many pilgrims (NO WAY) get the bus at the start of the industrial area. The left hand route or river route is new and follows the N120 initially. It then skirts the airport on a gravel service road and then follows the river thru forest to the city park for a number of kms. This walk though only 21 km seemed to take forever. Especially the last 8 km from where you can clearly see the Burgos Cathedral.
“Burgos was founded in 884 by Count Diego Rodriguez Porcelos and now has a population of approx 200,000. The city was the seat of Franco’s government until 1938. It was home to the notorious El Cid, and is a city brimming with majestic architecture. As with all places the fortunes of Burgos rose and fell at the whims of Kings and wars. With the founding of the Cathedral in 1221 the city’s fortunes soared as it became the commercial center of Spain. Columbus was received here in 1497 by Queen Isabel after his second voyage. It is surprising that the Gothic style of Burgos Cathedral is coherent, as it was constructed over a period of three hundred years. ”
The interior of the cathedral is massive and the layout map paid for by your entrance fee will be helpful ( 50% discount to pilgrims and includes audio tour). “The floor plan in the shape of a crucifix, is 106 meters long. The three naves are separated by massive columns and are surrounded by fifteen chapels, the cloisters, and the Bishop’s Palace. The main altar retablo, dates from 1562, is Renaissance and narrates the life of the Virgin.”
The tomb of El Cid and his wife are here after being re-interred in 1921 for a second time. “Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (c. 1040 – 1099), better known as El Cid, or simply Rodrigo, was a Castilian nobleman and military leader in medieval Spain. The Moors called him El Cid, which meant the Lord, and the Christians, El Campeador, which stood for Outstanding Warrior. He was born in Vivar, a town near the city of Burgos. After his death, he became Castile’s celebrated national hero and the protagonist of the most significant medieval Spanish epic poem”
Here again we elected to check into a hotel for a break from the dorms. This was just across the river from the old town. We were able to get some rest and then do some sight seeing. A map of the city is a must with the maze of small streets. The Cathedral is massive and spectacular both inside and out. The most regal gate to the city is the Santa Maria arch. We had some amazing tapas at an out of the way place full of locals and then a chocolate and churros as a treat.
El Cid again.