Granon >>> Villafranca (28km) >>> Ages (15.8km) >>> Burgos (22km) >>> Hontanas (31km) >>> Itero de la Vega (20.4 km)
= 117.2km (Overall: 314.3km)
The whole way into the little town called Ages, pronounced ‘ah kes’ in Spanish, the signs taunted us. It had rained all morning and we were walking, for the second day, into a really strong headwind. Tessa was having major issues with her Achilles and had to take it quite slow. It was freezing and we were soaked to the bones. When we came over a small hill and finally spotted the little town of Ages, we were beyond happy.
The albergue we stayed in was run by a brother and sister who had this funny sibling rivalry going on. They acted very grumpy and would push each other around but were very sweet to us and the albergue was lovely and warm. The shower had the hottest water and best pressure I’ve felt so far on this trip and we had a room for the five of us to ourselves. We played cards that night and Tessa was facing the hard decision of leaving the camino a couple of days earlier than shed’d planned. Jack was always going to be leaving us in Burgos (the next town) as he had limited time overseas and knew he would have to bus at least one part of the camino which is actually quite common. After weighing up all her options, Tessa decided that she would end her Camino in Burgos where she would catch a bus to Barcelona to spend a couple of days exploring before heading back to Australia.
For days leading up to our arrival in Burgos (a pretty major city on the Camino) we were watching riots that were happening there on the news. Images of people looting, fires, violence and police would be on the TV in every pub, cafe or albergue. It was a bit disconcerting but other peregrinos didn’t appear phased so we didn’t let it bother us.
As we were walking into Burgos through the outer suburbs you could feel an odd tension in the air. There was graffiti everywhere and as we kept moving we noticed that shop windows and ATM screens were smashed. Road works had been dug up and destroyed and there were big shipping containers and other large plastic containers that had been burnt. There were metal park benches all twisted up on the side of the road. Police were everywhere, news crews were doing interviews and setting up cameras and all of the shops were closed. We would have felt really worried if it wasn’t for all of the locals walking through with us. Some were pointing out to their children where the damage was. It was more exciting than scary, but we were a bit concerned that our albergue would be in the immediate vicinity. We needn’t have worried.
The kilometres stretched on and long into the centre of the city. As we started to get glimpses of the Burgos cathedral (one of the most famous in Spain), we noticed that the streets we were walking on had turned to cobblestone and the buildings were older and more beautiful. We were walking through the ‘old city’ which was worlds away from the first suburbs we’d come through. Our albergue, when we finally arrived, was 100 metres from the monstrous cathedral. We never can believe how the pilgrim accommodation in the city always gets the best real estate. Our accommodation in the municipal albergue cost us 5€ each and was in prime location. The church was absolutely spectacular from the outside, and the tour of the inside was interesting and informative. If you are a pilgrim everything seems to be discounted. The cost for entry is 3.5€ and that includes an audio-guide headset as well.
In Burgos we celebrated Tess and Jack’s last night with us in style. We stumbled upon a restaurant that was world famous for its tapas and sandwiches – it had won a michelin star! And we played cards whilst eating the delicious little morsels and sipping the best red wine I have had in Spain. When you spend 5€ on your accommodation you don’t mind forking out for 1.9€ wines and 1.8€ tapas. We got a little sentimental at dinner, talking about our highs and lows of the camino so far, giving Tessa advice about her next five days of solo travelling and organising catch ups with Jack back in Australia. The next morning we had breakfast together and said a tearful goodbye. Adam and I won’t see Tess for at least a year, potentially two, so it felt a bit emotional watching her and Jack walking towards the bus station – in the opposite direction to us.
Then it was just the three of us, and it would be until we arrived in Santiago de Compostella. We estimated we had about 20 days left on the Camino. We walked 31km to Hontanas from Burgos. The scenery was spectacular (even though it rained on us) and the albergue when we got there was warm. There we had a memorable pilgrim menu consisting of Castilian soup followed by blood sausage with rice (famous in the region of Burgos) and two fried eggs. I have found that when you are legitimately hungry and tired you will eat pretty much everything. And I have to say, that has been one of my favourite meals of the trip. From Hontanas we walked 21 km to Itera de la Vega. This was our 15th day on the Camino – not even halfway through.