Rest Day 2: Burgos

Frank and Mikey started off by visiting the cathedral. An ever developing work since the 11th century, it is one of Spain and the Church’s crown jewels.   Yep, it’s HUGE!

 The Escalera Dorada – total setting for a wedding or Mikey’s grand entrance!

 The main altar. Unlike in many other cathedrals, the main altar, choir loft, and seating is very small. At least two chapels are larger in seating capacity. 

 The choir loft. 

 
  Just a random ceiling shot šŸ˜‰

The cloister. Lots of bishops are interred along the walls.  

 Frank checking out the courtyard view. 

 A stained glass window. 

Ok, so things got a bit out of hand. One might say silly, even. Burgos happens to be the home to many interesting outdoor statues and Mikey requires minimal pressure to act out in public. This, combined with a visit to a free military museum and one on human evolution, resulted in the following images. We have purposefully omitted captions as we are confident that you will invent much better ones for yourselves. 

  
  
    
      

Ok, so we also focused our attentions on food. Mikey and Frank really put down some grub this time. Yes, mother, this was over the course of 2 days! Mikey figures that we can eat pretty much anything during this trip as long as we don’t expect to lose weight. He thinks of it as the equality diet: eat a lot; walk a lot. 

 Fried calamari – sorry SoCal, Spain had it first! Red lentil soup with blood sausage. Yeah, look that one up – if you dare!

Pork ribs with BBQ sauce and french fries.
Mixed greens with tomato, olives, tuna, shrimp, and baby eel. Check your ranch dressing at the door, Spain’s got olive oil and red wine vinegar only! Delish!!

 Steak slider with crispy fries!
 Raspberry cheesecake. This was all Frank!

Chocolate con churros. If you don’t know what this is, you might need to drop everything and visit Spain. It will change your life! For those who have tried this delicacy, you will see that it passed the “spoon test.” (Good chocolate – into which one dips his churros – should be thick enough to support the weight of a spoon resting on top.) 

Ok, that’s all for Burgos. We’ll be back in a day or two to bring you more Camino happenings. Until then, good night and good luck. 

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Day 11: Belorado to Burgos

Today was Frank and Mikey’s longest journey. However, it was not entirely by foot. Weather, healing feet, and time constraints led us to skip ahead 1 day via bus. So here’s what happened:
We started early this morning and were making good time. We walked through several villages and even stopped for a decent breakie. 

  
Random church in the village of Tosantos – a town without a cafe! (Sorry, but we REALLY like our morning coffee breaks!)

 Finally found breakfast in the next town. Fried eggs with chorizo – yum!

  Hello, proto-uber!! Yeah, Mikey REALLY wanted to hire that ass to take him along the trail, but Frank said no. 

 The longer we walked, the more the fog set in and walking became especially dangerous. While the Camino is marked, low visibility makes some mountain pathways and roads quite perilous. 
Mikey checking out the ruins of the 9th century monastery of San Felix de Orca during a break in the rain. 

After a meeting of the minds over a coffee, we decided to catch a bus into Burgos. The rain had set in and our path today would have taken us some 8 miles over a mountaintop with zero visability. No bueno! 

 We entered the city via the Santa Maria Gate. Mikey said it was like Disneyland … only real!

 Frank (looking especially tan) posing in front of the Catedral de Santa Maria. 
Shall we say another “meeting of the minds?!”
So we are staying an extra day in Burgos as one of our planned rest days. Check back for more pictures of the cathedral and inappropriate poses with statues! Adios. 

Day 10: Santo Domingo to Belorado

Frank and Mikey finally caught up to their estimated pace last night. Thus, the walk today was less stressful – although a bit painful due to afore mentioned foot injuries.

It seems like every town has to have a bridge. This is the one leaving Santo Domingo. Good riddance as far as the auberge was concerned. (Frank and Mikey shared a room with 12 VERY smelly French people. NOT fun!)
As it had rained the previous evening, the path was full of snails! Mikey should not have stopped to snap this picture as he suddenly felt “snail-conscious” about the possibility of taking out a whole family of three. A very slugish and watchful walk ensued.

We have finally left the Basque Country and have entered Castilla y Leon according to this marker in the town of Redecilla del Camino.

This building in Castildelgado was erected in 1746 – only 30 years before the US Declaration of Independence – and is still in use.

We tried to “let sleeping dogs lie,” but this one woke up to give us a glare for disturbing his siesta.

 

Frank is probably feeling like the pooch above, but would never let you know it – Cheers to the happy walker!

Ā At long last, we arrived in Belorado. What a beautiful day to walk around the main plaza!

Flan. Good flan. Mikey still dosen’t like it. Ok, here’s the back story:

After spending more than a year in Spain, Mikey has never aquired a taste for Spain’s national dessert. Flan is basically a custard-like sweet desert that every Spaniard’s mother makes best.

Mikey did not have a Spanish mother spoon-feeding him this aparent delicacy since birth, so he is a bit behind in the flan game. Stay tuned for his future flanophilic endeavors.
Ā This is the Church of Santa Maria (14th century) in Belorado.

Frank outside of the Church of Saint Peter. We walked in, but weren’t able to take pictures during mass.

Ok, so we totally scored in Belorado. Frank and Mikey decided in advance on the perfect auberge in Belorado. We researched it and walked directly to its address only to find it closed for renovations. Mikey cried a little.

However, the proprietress offered us a room in her adjacent hostel at a very reasonable price. Aching feet assented before we even saw it! In the end, we had a full apartment with bedroom, separate bath, TV/dining room, kitchenette, and 2nd story patio.
But, it gets better! Mikey asked about the possibility of washing a few garments. (Wow, that sounds hoity toity. We meant underwear – like boxers, t-shirts, and socks!) Anyways, 3ā‚¬ later, Frank and Mikey returned from dinner to ALL of their laundry air-drying on the 2nd story patio! Yeah, Belorado was awesome.

Day 9: Ventosa to Santo Domingo

Frank and Mikey were awoken this morning by Gregorian chanting. In fact, the albegurge in Ventosa starts playing it from 6am until the last pilgrim leaves. In theory, this is really neat – almost magical. In practice, it’s the equivalent of playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” with only one cashier while in line at the grocery store. Basically, the longer we waited for open bathroom sinks or a space to pack our gear the more we grew annoyed by the canned monks!

At long last, we grabbed an “English breakfast” (eggs, bacon,oj, and coffee) in town before heading on what would be one of our longest days. 

A final look back towards the church in Ventosa. 

 Much of the day was spent walking through fields. Notice the snow-capped mountains in the background. 

 This was one of several beehive shelters we happened upon. Not really sure about its purpose, but it looked pretty dope.  

   Frank on a bridge in the town of Najara.  
   

The cathedral in Najara. 

  A fortified romanesque palace in Najara.

   

  Only 571km to go! šŸ˜” 
 After some 40km (10km or 6 miles further than intended), we could see Santo Domingo in the distance – 3km away.  

Probably one of the most unique fountains we have encountered. Notice all of the Camino symbology.
 The Cathedral in Santo Domingo.
A bewildered pilgrim Mikey with pollo and pantaloons. Ok, this needs explanation:

Long ago, a father, mother, and son were traveling along the Camino to pay homage to the remains of St. James in Compestella. They spent the night in Santo Domingo where the daughter of an innkeeper made romantic advances on the young man. 

When her amorous feelings were not reciprocated, she placed a silver goblet in the boy’s pack and then alerted the town sheriff that a theft had occured during the night. As fate would have it, the goblet was located in the lad’s bag and he was hanged from a tree outside of the town. 

As any good pair of pilgrim parents presumably would, the couple left their son behind and carried on to Santiago de Compestella where they prayed for their son’s soul. Yet, upon returning to Santo Domingo, they found the boy miraculous alive though still swinging from the tree. The father and mother burst into the sheriff’s cottage, interrupting his meal of roasted fowl, and pleaded for their son’s life. 

Infuriated by their insolence, the sheriff declared that their son was no more alive than the roasted chicken on his dinner plate! At that moment, the fowl crowed and lept up from the table. In awe, the sheriff marched out to the gallows where he had the still living young man cut down from the tree before granting him a full pardon. 

To this day, there are kept both a hen and rooster inside the cathedral to remind the faithful of the power of prayer and intercession of the saints. (Mikey just thought the cutout looked cool!) Hasta entonces. 

Day 8: LogroƱo to Ventosa

After a short 10km walk, Mikey arrived in LogroƱo and met up with Frank. A university town of 125,000, LogroƱo is also the capital of La Rioja – the famed wine producing region in Spain. 

   We walked around the old town for a bit and checked out the 14th century Catedral de Santa Maria de la Redonda.

 Arriving mid-day, Mikey felt about as out of it as this ice cream salesman looked! 

   Still, he and Frank walked around the city exploring some and trying to drum up some real hunger for pintxo-time!

  The pintxos in Pamplona were great, but LogroƱo far surpassed Frank and Mikey’s expectations in regard to creativity and sheer quantity of tasty treats. Above are croquettes topped with Serrano ham, braised octopus, frittatas, French omelettes  made in cups, and more stuff that we didn’t try.   

  We were both sure to try the steak, grilled red peppers, and mixed lettuce salad (3ā‚¬!)

  

 Roasted baby suckling pig ribs with a chimichurri sauce – WOW! 
Needless to say, we slept the sound sleep of the righteously  obese! In fact, we woke late and hurried down to a breakfast buffet before gathering our things to spend the day walking off all that food.  

 We stopped by the Church of Saint James (kinda have to when you’re on his namesake pilgrimage!) Notice the out of place modern chandeliers.  

   And Mikey snapped a quick picture of a missed opportunity. 

   

 While probably not drunk, this swan lightened our moods as we walked through a seemingly endless suburban park.

 Before too long, we had left the sprawling city of LogroƱo and were once again surrounded by the wine fields of rural La Rioja. 

  
Frank posing by a “new-to-us” version of the Camino markers.   

 We paused briefly in the town of Naverette to escape a freak downpour. This 13th century facade from a pilgrims’ hospital now graces the town cemetery.  

 With the determination of a Spanish bull, Frank charges through the remnants of a downpour!   After almost 20 miles, we spotted a church towering above the town of Ventosa. 

 A silhouetted pilgrim greets Frank at the edge of town.  

   Home sweet … Bunkbed?!? Guess it’ll do.

  Dear Santa, if Mikey ever has a yard, he really wants one of these planters. PS: don’t forget the pony!

 And highlight of the evening? Viennetta Ice Cream! Yup, that desert with the horrible commercials from the 80’s. Not only was it tasty, Mikey truly identified with the white, middle-class entertainer seeking to impress his guests towards whom this product was once so strenuously marketed! Buenas noches.

Day 7: Viana to LogroƱoĀ 

If you know Mikey at all, you can confirm that he never passes on a good deal. (He’s like Trump but with good hair, no bankruptcies, and … wait, that’s a bad analogy – vote Mikey!!) Anyways, the literally palatial hotel was 10ā‚¬ more than a spot in a bunkbed with 7 snoring strangers. Too bad he couldn’t have enjoyed it more, but the Camino (and Frank) awaits!

One parting gloat: imagine opening up your palace/bedroom window and seeing this unobstructed view of the ruins of Church of Saint Peter! Yeah, it’s great to be king!

 Mikey spent some time wandering around the former church.

 Then he went to the 13th century Iglesia de Santa Maria to get his pilgrim’s passport stamped. 

 The altar was stunning and demonstrated the great wealth of the Borgia family. Those familiar with rhe HBO series “Borgia” might recall how Pope Alexander VI’s illegitimate son, Cesare Borgia, was banished to Spain following his father’s death. Cesare was killed defending the town of Viana in 1507, but the city retained his family’s patronage for long after. (Hence all the ornate decor!) 

  
At the entrance of the church was a really old icon of Saint James with the following prayer written in 4 different languages:

“Dearest Apostle Saint James, in this pilgrimage which I am undertaking towards your grave, give me the Grace to increase and purify my faith, to love affectionately the One with whom you lived so much, Jesus Christ, our redemptioner, the Son of Mary, Who is the last stage in the pilgrimage of this life. Amen”

 Then Mikey bought some blister plasters and a hypodermic needle to fix his feet! Yeah, this is a gross but regular part of many pilgrimages. 
 Blisters cared for and plasters in place, Mikey gathered his things and headed off to find Frank. 
 Once again, an unknown well wisher encouraged a haggard Mikey. 

And at long last, Mikey spotted the bridge which led to LogroƱo and a well-rested Frank!

Day 6: Estella to Viana

Estella was definitely and interesting experience. Mikey found a hostel outside of the city on a remote hilltop that he thought would be peaceful. What was not  mentioned in his Eroski guidebook was that this hostel is for youth. Perhaps we looked harmless enough or just plain exhausted from the day’s walk, but we were allowed to stay for the evening. 

After securing our double room, we sought out a pharmacy to buy provisions for Frank’s sore foot. Upon showing it to the pharmacist and her mother, they advised Frank to find a doctor. So off we went, the uninsured to seek a professional opinion. 

Sure enough, we saw the only English-speaking doctor in the city, a man who had lived in Texas! He bandaged Frank up and advised him to take a short break from walking. 

Over dinner, Frank and Mikey hatched a plan wherin Frank would take a bus two days ahead and recuperate in LogroƱo while Mikey would continue walking. 

Next morning, Mikey set off while Frank secured a ride from the youth hostel worker to meet his bus in downtown Estella. What follows is Mikey’s walking account of Estella to Viana. 

With Frank’s passage to LogroƱo secured, Mikey cautiously began walking absent a more observant second set of eyes. (Come on, those little Camino directional arrows can be tough to spot!) Still, like swallows to Capistrano, he had no trouble finding the first stop.

Opened in 1891, the Irache Winery is a mainstay of the Camino. In celebration of its 100 year anniversary, the winery installed a free wine fountain. Mikey likes wine, but 8:45am was a bit early considering the 35km+ that he would be walking. (Don’t worry, he filled an empty Coke bottle!šŸ˜‰)

 The Irache Monastery is conveniently close to the free wine fountain. Hmmm…

 The morning was exceptionally clear and offered miles of beautiful color-contrasting views like this. 

12th century San Andres Church was the main attraction in Villamayor de Monjardin. 

 Here’s a view of its impressive main portico. 

 Medieval Christian inscriptions like this one (above the portico) are found all over its facade. 

 Not to be outdone, King Sanchez I’s tomb is given pride of place nearby. 

 Back on the road for what would seen like hours!

 Suddenly, like a mirage, Eduardo’s “cafe movil” (food truck) appeared. The only letdown was the absence of tacos. (However, this point is debatable as “tacos” in Spain are swear words & from what Mikey overheard, Eduardo dosen’t have the cleanest vocabulary.)

  
Mikey bid Eduardo and a few fellow pilgrims adĆ©u before getting back onthe road. 

 There’s something here about a rolling boot?!

 Ā”Gracias! “Buen Camino” is a common expression on the Way. It means good walk or well wishes on ones journey. In this case, it was carved in cement in the middle of a hayfield. 
 The Iglesia de Santa Maria delos Arcos and city gate (Portal de Castilla) at Los Arcos. 

 The small town of Sansol from a distance. Mikey stopped in a cafe to use the restroom and ended up staying to help the owner with the English section of a Jeopardy show on TV. (Mikey rocked it!)

 
The nearby town of Torres de Rio boasts a pretty rad 12th century Templar church called Iglesia de Santo Sepulcro. 
 

Narrow, medieval streets led Mikey on to his destination for the evening. 

 Hot, sore, and blistered, Mikey arrived in the town of Viana a little after 5pm with 42km under his belt for the day. But things got better. You see, Mikey figured that if you want to feel like a king, you gotta sleep like one! So he spent the night in the (renovated) 16th century Palacio de Pujadas. (Thanks, booking.com for the 60% off coupon!)
Well, more on Viana and Frank’s return to the story on our next posting. Adios.