Our goal for the day wasn’t just getting to Burgos, but finding the elusive River Route there! In 2012 I missed the turn and ended up walking along the unpleasant tarmac road around the airport, with no shade and no real shoulder to walk on. This time would be different. The Scouse Spouse was on the case!
But first we were leaving Atapuerca and seeing some of the sights we missed the day before …
It was no great hardship leaving though, but the first part of the day’s walk was one I remembered for being treacherous. Not because of uphillage or difficulty, but sheer tricky-ness. The trail is more a wide band of sharp rock than a path. One young pilgrim damaged her ankle quite badly the same day we walked it. Take care on those rocks!
Somewhere up in those gently rolling hills is one of the oldest human settlements we know, and I’d love to see the dig site and have a private guide for the day, telling me about all the finds, stories and interpretations!
It was a lovely day, and because of the 30 km slog the day before, we had caught up with some faster walkers and lost some regulars, so we got to meet different people. The Scouse Spouse had his eye on the River Route description at all times, and lo and behold, we found it!
The route starts off like a hardly noticeable track through high grass, but gradually turned into a park with easy-to-follow, wide paths sprinkled with dogwalkers, joggers, parents with small children and a very modest trickle of pilgrims. It went on for near enough 8 kms!
As you’d expect, a toilet was needed before we got to town. Luckily (I thought) there was a smattering of huts near a beach by the river, so I asked where the ladies’ toilets were. Closed, is what they were. The man in the icecream hut suggested we go off trail, only 100 m, and there would be a bar. We have heard about these men who tell you things just so they won’t lose face by admitting they don’t know, so we asked a lady en route, and she said the same thing – there is a bar just off the trail. And there was! And what a place!
It wasn’t just a bar, it was a big steak house, barbeque, grill type place, with lots of seats outside and very happy people eating and drinking in the sunshine. We opted to stay inside where there was air conditioning, and bought a drink so we could go to the toilet as paying guests. The gentleman behind the bar came over with a huge plate of toasted bread and cured meats for us, apparently very few pilgrims make it 100 m off trail so we were a rare sight.
We would have loved to stop there for a meal, but by now Burgos was so tantalisingly close, and it was getting very hot, and we had a hotel room waiting, so we forced ourselves out of the cool air inside and made our way to one of the most beautiful cathedrals on the camino – Burgos.
After checking in, dumping all our washables in a plastic bag, having showers and getting our gladrags (read: his shirt, my scarf) on, we went sauntering around the lovely city and found ourselves a table under these trees to sit and people watch until it was time to eat, drink and sleep.