Stage in Profile – Day 10
Azofra – Grañón = 22km
We woke up in our two-bed dorm, which was nice for once to have more privacy and less noise. Most of us got going around 8 am, but Ian and Steffen felt like sleeping in and we left before them. Both being military guys, we knew they would catch up with us eventually.
We left Azofra and walked in yet more landscape that soothed the already satisfied soul of a pilgrim. More fields and vineyards were present in the flat terrain as the rest of “the family” walked on.
We came to a wealthy area with a golf course on a tip of a hill, but also a rather ghost-town type of place as not much life was there.
Ian and Steffen caught up with us here. We all followed each other to the next bar and got a bite to eat. Here, a familiar figure was sitting having a little break as well and I went up to greet Gary from Minnesota. Nice to see him again and one of those special people I bumped into constantly to give and receive updates and insights of this journey.
We started walking a little later, towards Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
We all entered the nice looking town, but Ian was not there. Steffen and me walked on to find him, but was not successful and turned back to find the others again. Daniela and Ana wanted to tour the cathedral so Gemma, Ricardo and me then took a walk around. Gemma and me ended up at the square of an albergue where we saw Ian, the French guy from Torres del Rio and Steffen sit down with a drink. They had all checked in there, and here the first split-up of the group occurred.
Ricardo wanted to walk longer today and so did Daniela, Ana, Gemma and me. So now the group was down to 5 as Esther also stayed in Santo Domingo. It was a hot day and another 1½-2 hours of afternoon-walking was our last cup of walking of the day. We ended up in Grañón and to a very different type of albergue, than we have tried so far.
The albergue was based on donations, kind of a “hippie” place, but had a focus on freedom and spirituality. It had been started by a German who had driven a tractor all the way from Germany on The Camino down to Grañón and said it was quite a journey – I bet!
Even though we had bought food to cook for the evening, wine etc. the albergue unbeknownst to us provided food, but the only way of getting it was for every nationality of people who was there at the albergue to sing out loud outside the next door kitchen. I lead the danish duo of me and another woman, singing the danish national anthem, even though I messed up the 3rd verse it was approved by the kitchen. 🙂
Four volunteers was asked to carry the food from the kitchen down to the basement and eating area, all wearing interesting wigs, below is one of them.
Even though the decline in our group, the five of us had a great time and what I had not mentioned was that the couple I met in Bayonne before SJPdP also stayed in this albergue, so again, you just kept running into people you had seen before, which was a lot of fun.
I headed to bed earlier than the others. I just felt like relaxing my legs because I from arrival today was unable to walk normally. Walking “gingerly” was how Jeff from the couple I met in Bayonne put it.
Stage in Profile – Day 11
Grañón – Espinosa del Camino = 24,7km
Another day began and the contingent of 5 began today´s hike. In the morning it is usually a goal to hit up the first and best bar to eat and drink something, which we did.
The next major break was after about 3½ hours and here we found Esther, who´ve had some pain in her stomach and other places during those days, so she had taken transport to keep going as much as she could.
I was the first of us to see and greet her. Here we also got the news that Ian had left The Camino. He had been awaiting a work-call in Germany and walked until it came, and so it did the night before.
Steffen, came a little after we had all been sitting down a bit and it was obvious he was both hit of physical pain, but perhaps also sadness due to see Ian go, as they had grown a good friendship. Interestingly, the talk Steffen and I had in Azofra came to mind, because this is how easy the group could dissolve.
Belorado, was the next little town and here Gemma met up with her parents, and Steffen and Ester stayed here, and while we would meet up with Gemma later, Ricardo, Ana, Daniela and me walked on.
After a failed check-in to an albergue that was full, we continued on to Espinosa del Camino, which was one of the last chances we had to find a place that night because it was late in the afternoon, because it was very small villages, if you could even call it that. Here, we met up with Gemma again.
Here, we got a unique experience, with an old Camino-veteran in a normal looking house although with the proper looks of an albergue, but private. This elderly man lived alone, had walked the Camino a few times and gave us tails of his thoughts on this special path, inside of his quaint and nicely decorated house with antiques and collections of small swords, images of castles along The Camino and much more – like a little museum.
I dont recall the name of the man, but he was quite serious about this journey. He wanted to make sure we were real pilgrims, which meant that he would hold on to both our real passports and pilgrim passports until the morning. He definitely saw this spiritual path as honorable, one that unfortunately was being commercialized and he wanted to be sure to show and tell us that he did not believe in that, he wanted to do what he could to keep The Way in its old tradition.
He cooked for us and while he only spoke Spanish I understood when translated by my fellow companions. There were two rooms up stairs and the one on the left was with 3 bunks. All in all it was such a sweet place and I think we all needed and liked the feel of being in a “home” and it was a perfect fit to relax and recoup after a long and hot day.
Stage in Profile – day 12
Espinosa del Camino – Atapuerca = 24,6km
Do you remember the day we were woken up by nun-music? Well… this morning we woke up by yet some more music – this time military music! So cool and one of the first people I saw up was Gemma, who had jumped out of her bunk and did a little dance. The music continued and varied, playing a lot of great songs, a couple I remember was from U2 and R:E:M, but was classical type of variations, and not the regular pop versions – real nice!
Made me think of all the classical music I had listened to in concert halls for the months leading up to this long walk.
This place was also based on donations, and after our breakfast we donated and got our passports back before heading on, getting closer to the first main and important city of The Camino, Burgos.
We went on our way and the day started up and down with beautiful views to the mountains and later for a long while on a forest trail.
Later we passed a memorial for the republicans who were shot in 1936 in the Civil War. I believe it was 300 people that was killed here. This is what it said on the description on the monument: “It was not their deaths, but the manner of their deaths that was senseless. May they rest in peace.”
We were not far from Burgos, which many signs on the path as well as road signs indicated, when we occasionally were close to the main roads.
It was a pretty flat walking day today and not much landscape which can be mentally challenging, when you have been used to great scenery. We had a couple of stops, and the last break we had before we ended the day was in Agés. It was such a nice and cozy little place where we all sat down and shared some of our provisions of fruits and nuts with one another.
Here, another indication which besides the probable incorrect exact number of kilometers, showed that we were getting closer to Santiago.
We ended up in the village on top of a hill named Atapuerca and after check-in we enjoyed some drinkable comforts along with a few snacks.
Then of course… we all took care of our feet and such, some more than others… because one needed assistance.
Some fun outside of the albergue and all in all it was such a great day post-hike. We enjoyed each others company and just relaxed. I think we all waited with our showers and focused more on gearing down, before food was purchased for cooking up tonight’s dinner.
We gathered with other people around dinner time and I got acquainted with Nick from Australia, who shared an article he had written about a spiritual festival in Australia and I shared my book with him.
This was all before we once again found ourselves in bunk beds all close together all sleeping in different beds recovering from another day on the journey and resting up for another day to begin – this one a bit more “important” as Burgos was an important stop towards Santiago.
Stage in Profile – day 13
Atapuerca – Burgos = 19,3km
It had to happen again at some point – rain was over us and our day began wet.
When Gemma, Ricardo and me were walking around Santo Domingo, when waiting for Daniela and Ana touring the cathedral some days ago, Ricardo bought a big poncho for him and his backpack for this reason. When rain just comes down and all you have is what you got in your backpack, there is no mercy and it could really make an impact, so I am sure he was happy with that purchase then.
He and I both covered our shoes with some plastic bags to keep out most of that wet stuff and so we began a hike which started upwards and on a really rocky surface. It was not easy to walk on and we were quickly scattered all over the place.
It took a while before we all caught up to each other and so we did when we got to the only albergues since Atapuerca.
I remember Gemma was ahead of me, but not how/when we all gathered in the albergue. We stayed in the bar-area to eat and drink something as well as be inside for a little while. Ricardo had some really troubled feet and he was not happy about his situation. Big and painful blisters and having all wet shoes and socks is not a great combination, so he thought of staying here today and tonight.
Gemma and me wanted to get going and headed out before the others. We all hoped that Ricardo would continue and when he talked about a solution of putting his feet inside plastic bags for a temporary fix to get to Burgos, as he would take a day off there, brightened my hope that we would see him there later.
In the door way going out, Steffen and Esther had to our surprise just arrived, catching up to us since we left them in Belorado a couple of days ago. SO good to see them! They obviously wanted to get inside for a while too.
Gemma and I began a wet and windy walk towards Burgos. We enjoyed each others company and had comfortable conversation. It rained less now, but was windy, cloudy and when getting to the edge of Burgos, we began what seemed like a marathon of a walk into Burgos. About 15km was covered since our break, so quite some way all together.
Remember, that the middle of town is where we are always heading as that is the oldest part and since the year of the carrot, the city has developed where the industrial area is what you encounter first.
A good guess would be at least 1½ hours of walking before we were in the actual city of Burgos and again, not fun to walk so long on concrete at the end of a day like this.
We FINALLY arrived… it took a long time, but eventually we got to the albergue municipal and saw the familiar faces of Ana and Daniela, as well as many others we had seen on the way the first few days of walking. They were all in a bar across the albergue and some of them had a rest day in Burgos today.
Ana and Daniela greeted us and we got inside to sit down. After a little while we saw a very familiar backpack, blue poncho and person under it – Ricardo! He had gutted it out walking a long way alone on his feet on blisters, he was in pain but a tough guy indeed – I was impressed countless times on this trip!! We all were happy to be together again and we knew Steffen and Esther was behind us.
Not long after we checked-in, I saw Gary sitting in the common area. After the usual’s our group went down to wash some clothing together, do some writing and here I caught up with Gary who dropped another pearl of insight, he said: “Walking The Camino is like breathing, you inhale people in and exhale them out.” – He explained, what to a pilgrim is now well-known; you meet a lot of people and you also say goodbye to many very often.
Looking at it as breathing I guess relates to the very natural way of how it is to walk The Camino as well as how it is to live life. On The Camino we encounter people who stay around for a few minutes or hours or days, and in life you have people there for a quick conversation a few days, or years of short or long term friendships.
Through modern communication we had established contact to Esther and Steffen who had found another place to be for the night and we agreed to meet in the late afternoon. This began to develop into one of the better nights on the trip.
Here we were: Ricardo, Gemma, Daniela, Steffen, Esther, Ana and me who all had been close for what is long on this kind of a voyage and just enjoying each others company, it was an epic evening!
We first had some wine in a square and we then took that to a restaurant and another pilgrim menu with more wine and laughs. It was such a blessing to be among these beautiful people!
The albergue would close at 10.30, so after a little bit a bar hopping we went back to the bar across from the albergue where we had all been when we arrived earlier in the day.
Here, we all finished off with Bob Marley music, a little bit of dance, the Spanish drink Orujo, that we had grown fond of and then said our goodbyes to Steffen and Esther before we headed to our bunks for the night and now we could really relax, because we knew that tomorrow, we had nowhere to go…
Two weeks had passed before I started this impeccable journey. It was already a way of life now and even though it was only two weeks it felt like much more. The sense of time was very different and the way of going about life was different too, both in positive ways.
I remember Steffen had told me, that he had spend much less time looking into the mirror on the trip, and while it can sound odd, I know when he meant. It was like the “normal” things or the thinking of outer things of ourselves was less important than the present moment, walking, being around people and pay attention to what was going on inside, because that was the reason we were here.
I can only say that these first 13 days of walking was amazing, the words I have used over and over again is simply the only words that are possible to express the special bond that “the family” had established as well as the ongoing “specialness” of landscape, cultural experience, being on a age old journey, which history we now were a part of.
Next blog is coming up within a week to 10 days!
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