Stormclouds threatened but we never got a drop of rain
Where We Be
Burgos Region, Spain
We were both surprised at how much we liked
Burgos. As cities go this is a good one, with a
river running through it, lots of parks and green
space, generous pedestrian areas, al fresco
dining, cultural riches galore, and a relaxed
vibe. We could have stayed here longer. But
because we tend to think of ourselves as "not
city people" we took no rest day in Burgos as
many pilgrims do. That meant we had our work
cut out for us: we had to see the cathedral and
other city sights on the same day we arrived.
Luckily we had a sunny day and plenty of energy.

But here's the thing: we may have to revisit this
whole notion of not being city folk, because with
cities like this we could become converts. It
seems like Spain knows how to make cities work
for their citizens: they pedestrianize the historic
center, and that makes all the difference.
Instead of traffic, smog, horns, and hassles you
have vibrant spaces where people walk from
place to place, shop on foot, drink and dine al
fresco, and surround themselves with historic-
ally fascinating art, architecture, and culture.
It would frankly be a sin to miss Burgos
Cathedral as a pilgrim on the Camino
The city's historic district is a delight
Monument to victims of the
civil war and Franco (1936)
We hiked a long stretch with no towns whatsoever,
covering ground fast on our 15.3 mile day
We paused at a tiny art enclave known
as El Oasis del Camino along the way
We pressed on before our muscles got too stiff, making great
time to Agés, the next town about two miles down the road
Agés had a pleasant feel to it but we were on a mission today and kept on trucking
Next we came to Atapuerca which is famous for its prehistoric archeological dig. Our Camino book
says it contains “a tremendous wealth of prehistoric humanoid artifacts (>90% of all found in Europe!).”
The final push through open country was steep at times but we made it
to Cardenuela Riopico in record time, arriving around 1 pm. Phew!
A short, easy, gorgeous day of 7½ miles to Villafranca which we treated as a semi-rest day
Just past the hamlet of Tosantos we passed this unique little
hermitage built into a cliff known as Nuestra Señora de la Pena
The open road beckons -- what a joy to be
walking the Camino on a beautiful spring day!
This jumble of rocks near Villafranca turned out to be the
ruins of the 9th century Monastery of San Felices de Oca
Ordering tapas can be a bit intimidating at first as there are no names or prices listed -- but you learn to just
point at what you want, and at €1 to €3 each, you can order without too much concern for cost. As a sidenote,
the tapas culture becomes less commonplace in smaller towns after Burgos, so get 'em now while you can.
We liked the town of Belorado -- especially its town square
(Plaza Mayor) with its unusual canopy of trees encircling a gazebo
Murals seem to be a Belorado specialty
During this stretch we hiked four days from Grañon to Burgos, with distances as follows: 9½ miles to
Belorado, 7½ miles to Villafranca Montes de Oca, 15¼ miles to Cardeñuela Riopico, and 8 miles to Burgos
Hiking Day 14: Grañon to Belorado
Hiking Day 15: Belorado to Villafranca Montes de Oca
Hiking Day 16: Villafranca to Cardenuela Riopico
We walked 9½ miles to Belorado on what amounted to an easy day by Camino standards.
Our distances are being determined somewhat by the spacing of towns along the route.
Equally wonderful are the parks in Burgos where you can go for a river walk under the trees
Even the statues seem to be enjoying themselves
It's clean and walkable with huge squares, quaint streets, and commanding statues
The architecture is a joy -- like this triumphal entryway known as Santa Maria Arch
Pedestrian-only zones like this make urban life so much more pleasant
We stopped for churros con chocolate, a traditional Spanish
treat, at this outdoor cafe -- a perfect people-watching venue
This is one of Spain's best and earliest Gothic cathedrals,
with construction beginning way back in 1221
With fantastic architecture like this, you can see why it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This Golden Staircase is one of mahy treasures
The cathedral contains countless works of art including this Tree of Jesse illustrating the
family tree of Jesus. The bonus colors are the result of sun shining through stained glass.
With the free audio tour it took us a good 2 hours
to see all there was to see, but it was time well spent
The cloister includes a dramatic painting of
El Cid, who is buried in Burgos Cathedral
Just beyond Villafranca are the Mountains of Oca (Montes de Oca) --
a treacherous stretch for early pilgrims who faced both bandits and wolves
Hiking Day 17: Cardenuela to Burgos
Then it was on to Burgos Cathedral -- the city's pièce de résistance
Can you see all the stork nests atop
the bell tower of the church in Belorado?
We didn’t mind because we knew tomorrow was going to be
a long hike of 15.3 miles – our longest so far of the Camino
The Church of Santiago in Villafranca looked especially lovely on this
picture-perfect day. We stayed nearby at El Pájaro hotel (€36 shared bath).
R.I.P. -- a common sight along the Camino: abandoned
shoes set atop rocks, sometimes with great ceremony
Finally we reached San Juan de Ortega, where we settled for croissants
in a bag at the only bar in town, munching them in the shadow of the monastery
We checked into room #2 with private bath at Santa Fe Hotel and Albergue (€35)
then hurried to lunch -- we were starving and ready for a reward after a hard day
The 8 miles into Burgos were industrial and uninteresting, but once we reached the historic
center all that changed. Our Hostal Manjon (€40) was near this canal in the historic district.
Any city with a river running through it jumps in our estimation!
Its Chapel of the Constable is gorgeous
Another is this lovely golden chalice
We finished our tour
in this lovely cloister
We stayed at Casa Waslala (€42) on
a pretty street near the Plaza Mayor
And enjoyed delicious tapas
on the main square