Day 20 – Villafranca Montes de Oca to Burgos

Walked Today: 5.2 mi/ Camino2022: 129 mi

This morning we began by taking a taxi from our hotel door to the hamlet San Juan de Ortega, named for an understudy of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. He also built roads and bridges in and around Burgos to help improve the pilgrim experience in the 12th century. San Juan probably built this church, too.

Iglesia de San Juan Ortega

The taxi enabled us to skip a 7 mile stretch of the Camino that we walked in 2014 and 2017, but skipped in 2019 and today to avoid some difficult terrain without any services, and a logging road infested with aggressive, biting flies!

soon after we left San Juan… we began walking in the woods
…. and were pretty much ignored by a mom and her young colt
…our road through the woods became a road through a more open pasture…
and after a couple of miles, we approached Agés
This is the workshop of the Agés artisan, Marcial Palacios, who we met in 2014. He had retired from Michelin’s Valladolid tire plant and we noticed his Michelin cap as we walked by and when he motioned for us to enter, we spent an enjoyable hour or so appreciating the products of his woodworking skills. Much of it consisted of miniature wood depictions of buildings and farm equipment seen in and around his village. He wasn’t at his shop this morning, but our memories of that delightful visit surely were.

We stopped for breakfast at an albergue where we stayed in 2014, stopped for breakfast in 2017 and saw it was closed in 2019. It has a new owner, who has upgraded it from its former state to a very desirable property, and renamed it Fagus. Jim shared some photos we had from our 2014 stay and the owner seemed to enjoy them.

We finished our breakfast and left for Atapuerca, the next small pueblo. About a half-mile later, Jim remembered he had not paid for our breakfast. So we reversed ourselves and returned to Fagus to pay our bill of 7€. The owner was perplexed when he saw us return, but when we explained, began taking the blame for forgetting to collect payment. Actually, he and Jim were both distracted by looking at the old photos. But he very appreciative that we came back.

the path and road leading from Agés to Atapuerca.

Atapuerca, site of several limestone caves near Burgos in northern Spain, is known for the abundant human (genus Homo) remains discovered there beginning in 1976. The site called Sima del Elefante (“Pit of the Elephant”) contains the earliest evidence of humans in western Europe—fragments of a jawbone and teeth date to 1.1-1.2 million years ago.

We passed the entrance to the site and walked into the small village, stopped at a bar and called a taxi to take us the next 12 miles into Burgos.

We arrived at our hotel at 11:00… much too early for the 2:00 check-in time. We passed the time ambling around the Plaza Santa Maria, just enjoying this fascinating, very old city, with origins reaching back over 2 thousand years. We didn’t do the Catedral tours, as in prior visits, feeling more like temporary residents rather than tourists. We found a outside bar off the plaza and ordered hot chocolate to break the chill from the cool breeze with our still damp clothes from our morning stroll of 5 plus miles… and relaxed…. until grabbing some lunch to occupy the remaining wait.

We arrived early for check-in, but had to snap a photo of the gargantuan magnificence of the Burgos Catedral. Our hotel is on the left.
nice way to wait for check-in
the view from our hotel room in Masón Del Cid.

The rest of the day was spent just enjoying our comfortable room, making preparations and reservations for upcoming days and recharging our € supply via a nearby ATM.