A Travellerspoint blog

DAY TWELVE – ATAPUERCA TO BURGOS

sunny 20 °C

Every morning people start making noise around 5:30am, and today was not the exception. Our two Korean roommates got up around 5:45am and the noise began. I wanted to sleep more but it was just not possible. We got up at 6am, had our coffee and baguette and left the albergue around 7am.

I was in a similar state to yesterday, thinking why not catch a bus to Burgos and maybe another to Santiago and then tour around Spain by bus or train??? Why am I here?? Anyway they were not really good thoughts to start the morning.

In the middle of my long face and not so positive attitude we left the albergue and a French couple was just in front of us –a mum and her son. She was around 80 years old and he was maybe 60 years old. A mountain was our first challenge at beginning of the day; it was 200 or 300 meters high and fairly easy to trek up.

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We passed the French couple at the beginning of the trek, but not long after they passed me; this lady had the determination to go so fast, and she was so happy, and told me “Buen Camino”. I decided to follow her, and it was my first lesson or good example to follow that morning. She made me sweat to try keeping her pace and in the end we did the mountain together.

I felt a little embarrassed to be competing with an old lady and the worst was that she nearly beat me, ha ha ha. But the best was coming because on the top of this mountain the sunrise and the amazing views of the valleys were just so impressive. I think it was the reason why the old lady was running to the top -to see the marvelous sun coming out; she mentioned something to me in French and I believe it was her saying how important seeing the sun shine over the Spanish countryside and experience the colors across the horizon was.

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Here were my answers to my questions from yesterday: the beauty of this Way and experience was there in front of me, the beauty of the universe and the energy of the earth was there only for me, or for us. This beauty of nature to share with all of you, this beauty to keep in my heart and in my memory for life and of course the beauty of the example given by the old French lady.

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A big cross with stones on its base was also on the top of the mountain, and with the contrast of the blue sky, the sunset, the cross, the stones, the fog, the windmill, the white lines the planes left in the sky as they passed overhead was something unforgettable.

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The way today was different, it was full of stone-covered paths, and While previously I could not enjoy some parts of the Way because of my blisters, today it was easier to take each step and not feel any pain (ok, less pain). It made me happy.

Today was a special day, a short walk (only 20 kilometers), the weather was wonderful, a marvelous landscape, and our arrival to Burgos, one of the most delightful cities for me.

Burgos is a big city with a beautiful cathedral, an architecturally impressive city center and a famous monastery. The city is crossed from side to side by a gorgeous river, and some bridges at several points of its way are famous from when they were built centuries ago.
We decided to stay two days in this city to be able to explore and rest our poor feet and bodies a little bit. It was really necessarily, and we both enjoyed the break.

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The stone paths in particular were doing us some damage. These stones were big and it was difficult to walk over them. The stones on the paths of the Way have played a special role nearly every day. They are used to signal our route; they are used as souvenirs of the Way; they are used to write words of motivation across the Way by anonymous angels, which really works; they are used as a form of meditation by carrying them in our pockets and rubbing them, among other things. The power of the stones on our Way and also in our lives.

Posted by erika_simon 03:11 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY ELEVEN – BELORADO TO ATAPUERCA

sunny 22 °C

This morning we started much later that usual, at 8:30am, but thanks to this, we met Hans-Peter, an Austrian guy with a useful skill, he knew everybody on the Camino. We walked with him for nearly 4 hours, and I was impressed how many people he knew.

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Walking with him, we saw an enormous boar run across the path., This animal appeared from nowhere and shot over a couple of fields and carried on running, it was really scaring. Hans-Peter’s wife had not felt very well doing the walk after she developed back problems. She had decided to take the bus to one of the towns on today walk and they would meet there and walk together until the end of the day. It was a nice solution to the problem and created a balance for both of them.

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The day was long and we walked more than 31 kilometers - I felt like I nearly died; it was one of the days I did not start with blisters, but the day was too intense for me. The sun was very strong the last two hours which did not help the Way. There was a mountain to climb but it was not too high and it had many trees providing shade. The way up was alright but the way down was hard on my knees.

To have painless feet gave me more time to think and organize ideas and I remembered Isabelle who said the first week is the physical pain, after this is the spiritual work. We will see, ha ha ha

The sunflowers fields were all along our way again and it is amazing to see them. The blue sky, the wind, the cold, and a sun at the end were our companions during this day.

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No much else to write about today. A difficult day for me, one of those days that I reflect about what I am doing here, those days where I think and think and I see everything with a pessimistic light, those days that are too long and we do not see the final town and do not find solutions to anything. Our plan was to stop in a town after 25 kilometers, but this town was really small and we decided to carry on to the next town walking another 6 kilometers more. It was too hot which made the Way really difficult. Probably today was not one of my best days in this experience, with just too much time to think, ha ha ha.

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Posted by erika_simon 11:25 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY TEN – SANTO DOMINGO TO BELORADO

semi-overcast 15 °C

This morning I did not have any soreness in my foot, it looked like the thread through my blister had worked. I still having the bandage covering the blister so I couldn’t check how it looked until the afternoon. It was the first time since day two that I started the day without any pain in my feet.

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It was a really cold day in the morning and everybody was wearing sweaters, in my case I had my sweater on for nearly the whole 6 hours of walking . The way was easy, most of the areas were flat, and we crossed from the La Rioja area to the Burgos area. Everywhere around us was orange-brown soil, this area was famous for growing wheat and I think it is one of the most productive wheat areas in the world. The sun was strong for the last hour making our way a little difficult right at the end.

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Close to Belorado, we could again appreciate the fields of sunflowers but this time they were not dead. It was a magical landscape to see, the sunflowers still alive were one of the best memories I could have during this experience. It was beautiful to contemplate this, and to remember Cynthia and Neil, with the sunflowers in their garden; it made me reflect on the great couples we have met and are examples for us. Like Anne and Eddie, Jazmin and Leonardo, Mariani and David, Enriqueta and Paul, Pilar and Noel, Bev and Les, Sandra and Jairo, Dona Rosa and Don Carlos, Cote and Eduardo, Giovanna and Edgar, Vilma y German, Lorraine and Rex, Simone and Vaughan, …… and of course Carolina and Nigel who are getting married today. These sunflowers were the reminder of love for me!!!!

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We stayed with an amazing Spanish guy, Alberto, in Belorado. He is one of the great miracles this way has brought to us. He taught us so much about financial freedom and how important it is to focus on our dreams. He belongs to the theater group in the town, and we were invited to see one of their performances - “Pijamas”. We were so lucky to have the opportunity to help the group to arrange the scenery before the performance, and of course to see the play. It was very funny and it was impressing to see the high level of their work.

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The group was a like a little family and after the performance we were invited to their celebratory dinner. It was beautiful to share time with them and we learned a lot about theater, Spain and friendships. Alberto was a special person who shared so much about his life, and looked after us so well. The extra relaxing day was wonderful for my feet and body, it is unbelievable the importance of having a break and giving the body a chance to relax.

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One particular thing that we had the opportunity to appreciate was a “Quintada”. It is a day where the people who have been born in the same year meet to celebrate their birthdays. It is usually for the special numbers like 20’s, 25’s, 30’s…… They celebrate all day, drink, dance, play music, and have fun. The quintada that we saw was for the people born in 1978, so their 35th birthday year party.

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Posted by erika_simon 10:58 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY NINE – NAJERA TO SANTO DOMINGO DE CALZADA

overcast 22 °C

Today was raining in the morning and we left a little later than normal, a bit closer to eight. The day was a short 21 kilometers to walk, therefore there was time for us to go at a more normal pace. The rain created a new phenomenon for us (of course in this experience), the MUD.

There was mud along most of the way and it made it really difficult to walk. Firstly we tried hard to walk on the side of the path to avoid the mud, but it was impossible in many places. Each step collected more mud and our boots were absolutely filthy but the worst was they were heavier. Another challenge and a new memory of our travels.

Our way was across flat yellow areas and there was a small hill but nothing impossible. We crossed through a peculiar town compared to the normal Spanish towns we see, in my opinion it was a ghost town. It is a place which is a modern town, all the houses have the same modern architecture but they were empty houses. This town was built in 2008, the project sold some houses but when the economic crisis began people could not finish their payments, and no more houses were sold. A really sad situation, and it looks like it has happened frequently in Spain, with many projectsstopped in the middle of their construction.

We arrived in Santo Domingo, a gorgeous Spanish town with a big cathedral and a large open square. The hostel was a big house which was really well organized, and had everything that a pilgrim needs: bed, kitchen, good showers, laundry machine, areas to dry clothes. It was a really good hostel.

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We were fortunate that a group of pilgrims invited us to eat what they had prepared for dinner, which was great for us because we did not have to cook, ha ha ha. Another thing was that I was lucky to again meet one of the ladies who I met the second or third day of our walk and she had seen my blisters back then and asked me about them today, and I told her that they still caused me a lot of (or some) pain.

She suggested I should use a needle and thread and pop them, and that if I wanted she would do it for me. I was so scared but I relied on her and said “please do it”. She got a needle, red thread, scissors, and plasters and she did it. My foot looks like a piece of material with a nice red threat sewn inside, ha ha ha I have a big hope it will help with the pain soon.

Posted by erika_simon 07:05 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY EIGHT – LOGRONO TO NAJERA

sunny 25 °C

The father of the family we stayed with in Logrono took us in his car to the outskirts of Logrono to find the starting point of our route. It was wonderful, it saved us around 5 kilometers and one hour or more of walking in the sun later that afternoon. The feeling of being in a car, to be transported from point A to point B was a strange sensation. We have not been in a car or any other kind of transportation for the last eight days, so it was incredible. I think it is the first time that I have not taken any transportation for this amount of time, apart from using my amazing feet which have given me the opportunity to walk nearly 150 kilometers. When somebody has asked if you are going to Santiago? I can only answer: if our feet let us we are doing it.

Today was a long walk, nearly 30 kilometers but for us thanks to a nice lift in a car it was only 25. Most of the way was between vineyards. Until now we have seen the vineyards from far away or the beginning or end of some vine rows on the side on the route, but this day we were in the middle of the vineyards. We walked for around 3 hours between grape vines, and could not see anything other than grapes and more grapes.
This time, honestly, I cut a couple of bunches of big grapes, others were on the ground which were of course easy to pick up. It was so funny to see how everybody else was doing this too, and trying to be discreet while picking and eating grapes, ha ha ha. It was a grapes day.

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The day was very long and sunny. The grapes helped but it was a really hot day, and the walk was beside the motorway. In one part we climbed a small mountain and from the top the view of the valley of this region was visible and we could appreciate the big vineyards and some towns, including Najera the town we were heading towards.

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As with every day the last hour is really hard for me and this time we could see the town from far away, pinpointed by the tower of the cathedral. This hour is the worst because it is when I start thinking about why I am doing this walk, and my feet started aching , my hips also develop pain, etc. This hour is the confrontation of the value of this walk compared to the physical pain of my body.

After my intensive fight with my mind and my body, we eventually arrived at Najera. We stayed with two amazing Spanish brothers who were really clever people and taught us about the Castellano language, which was born close to this town. They also talked with us about the dialects that are spoken in some of the Spanish regions, the good wine of La rioja, etc. They work with the mayor of the town, and the conversation about politics was really interesting and funny.

The grapes reminded me of Leo, our great friend. He has beautiful bunches of grapes on a vine outside his backdoor every year, and usually when we are going to his house he shares some with us, ha ha ha. Leo has taught us the importance of friendship, and this long and intensive walk has showed us how important this is. Every day we have met many people who are now part of our lives. As Leo always mentions, people are the most important thing in life, and these long days have showed us how relationships start, how people make this walk interesting and magical, how with their support things are easier for everybody, how with a smile or wishing Buen Camino the body can recover a little or find more energy and we can manage to arrive at our the last stop of the day, amazing!!!

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Posted by erika_simon 06:59 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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