Day 18- Cirueña to Belorado

Walked Today: 7.3mi/Camino2022: 117 mi

The plan today was to walk to Santo Domingo de Calzada, have breakfast, then stop by the nearby turisto office to make arrangements for preferably a bus (4€) or a taxi (35€) to Belorado. We have a reserved room at El Salto, and transported our backpacks there this morning. El Salto, is a place we have never stayed before.

Our plan was precipitated by our nearly 10 mile long walk yesterday, and our desire to have a short walk today then a longer walk tomorrow.

From Cirueña the path was straight, all the way to Santo Domingo ….
Simplicity and colors … ever-present on the Camino
Approaching Santo Domingo de la Calzada

We walked 3.5 miles to Santo Domingo, arriving at 8:05, and then our plan began to crumble.

Our breakfast place of the past 3 Caminos was closed up tight, with no signs of opening anytime soon. So we walked around town looking for any place that was open. After a 20 minute tour we found a single bar open and had breakfast. We took our time, anticipating a 10:00 opening time for the tourist office. At 9:45 we ambled to the tourist office and confirmed its 10 o’clock opening time and also, from literature on and around the door, it would not be a good source for getting us to Belorado. Around the corner was a town map and Jim discovered a building marked, “ Estacion Bus”. He took a photo of the map and we moved in that direction.

Note Estacion Bus in middle, bottom third of map

After walking around the target area on the map, we finally discovered the bus station was actually THE town bus stop with schedules and itineraries for all buses. A few minutes later we sadly realized the none of the buses went to Belorado.

It was now 10:30 and we realized our only option was a taxi and to our luck, a taxi was parked just a few steps away. It was the only taxi service and the only taxi in town. We approached the driver who was seated nearby and after several exchanges with equally ineffective telephone translation apps, we surmised that the driver was waiting for a prearranged fare. He said he could take us to Belorado next, maybe 15-30 minutes later and the fare would be 35€. We said ok, and settled on a nearby bench to wait.

After a 10 minute wait, the driver approached us and we eventually figured out that his other fare agreed for us to ride along to drop him and his bicycle at his location and we could then leave from there to Belorado. So we all hopped in and off we went.

Ironically, the taxi took us to the Cirueña golf course, where the other rider worked and where we departed from at 6:40 a.m. this morning for Santo Domingo!!

The ride to Belorado took about 30 minutes. We saw pilgrims along the way and remembered how long and hard the walk had been mostly along a heavily traveled highway, with little or no shade on our three previous Caminos. We both agreed it was a good decision to skip this 12 mile stretch, consistent with our Camino2022 paced approach.

According to our Booking and Wise Pilgrim apps, our albergue was located near the Hotel Belorado, so that’s where the driver dropped us off (the taxi driver had never heard of El Salto). So at 10:54 we began our search for El Salto. We got directions from people in restaurants, local residents, gas station attendants, a relative of a nursing home resident, until finally, Jim found it, tucked among some trees, without any signage on or near the Camino…at 12:15.

We arrived at El Salto and found “no one at home”, until we discovered the owner in the backyard, working with a crew to expand his deck.

Entrance to El Salto

He welcomed us, sort of, as he struggled with english, but not nearly as much as we struggled with Spanish. He said we couldn’t checkin because our room, the only private room, was still occupied by last night’s tenants and would need to be cleaned before we could have access. We also learned that no food is served or available and there is no wifi. But, our backpacks were delivered mid-morning, so somebody obviously has heard of E Salto besides us and the owner and Booking and Wise Pilgrim.

So, off we went back into Belorado to find lunch, dinner and backup provisions for tomorrow. By now, we had walked more than twice the miles we had planned for today.

We returned to El Salto at 2:30 to find our room free and clean, so we could get back to our routine and chill the rest of the day and evening.

our room
the family’s original kitchen, now available for guests to prepare a meal, if they bring their own food. Also serves as Fernando’s office.

Fernando, the owner, shared some information with us about El Salto.

El Salto from the huge back yard, garden and construction workshop/material storage.

It seems that he and his brother bought the property some 20 years ago and have been converting the original late 1800’s hydroelectric plant. It’s still very much a “ work in progress” and Fernando admits, more likely a life long one.

Al Salto… a work in progress

He and his brother also have a successful bicycle repair business and restaurant in Burgos as their “day” jobs.. Fernando and his family first lived in the property but decided to open up several rooms for overnighting cyclists and an occasional tourist or pilgrim, like us. It also has a small shop for minor bicycle repairs. Their current residence is nearby. Our conversation ventured into grandchildren and soccer and Fernando revealed that he played for Real Madrid when he was 17!

Jim and Fernando chatting after our “do-it-yourself” supper.

Bloggers Note: Some of our shared experiences may seem overly critical or negative to some, but they are part of what one can expect when walking the Camino Frances. We love the Camino and all it has to offer, it has affected our lives in so many fulfilling ways and we know first-hand that it truly provides. Many of our readers use our blog to learn more about what to expect. Many of the things that you read here, will not be found in Camino guides. We also document our frustrations and fears, which for us also become learning experiences and morph into chuckling memories that add to the richness of the our Camino experience.