After walking in the dark for nearly a half-hour, the scenery around us was still the same as yesterday.
We reached Carrion de los Condes after 3.5 miles and stopped for breakfast at La Corte, a very nice restaurant/albergue.
We’ve had two dinners and now, two breakfasts here. As soon as we finished eating, we asked the waiter to please call us a taxi, which arrived at 8:30.
The driver took us to Calzadilla de la Cueza, which is located at the end of the walk from Carrion, which offers 11 miles with no shade and no services… one of the longest stretches without a town on the Camino Frances.
The next 3 plus miles were quite pleasant. Even though we walked along a two lane, lightly traveled road the entire way, the natural shrubs and trees mostly blocked our view of the road and provided ample shade to mitigate the ever increasing heat from the sun.
Just after leaving the dirt path before entering Ledigos, we encountered some nice pilgrim art, created from nearby stones.
Ledigos is a very small village with brick and adobe buildings. Nevertheless, it has two nice albergues. It was nearly 11:00 so we stopped at the newest one and had “smoothies”!
The walk out of Ledigos was beautiful. A huge birch tree also captured our attention on the way out.
Albergue Los Templarios was not open until noon, so we made ourselves at home on the front porch (in the shade) and discovered the wifi was strong and the password was the same as 2019 (both our phones remembered).
At 11:50, the owner opened the front door, welcomed us inside and we were soon in our room.
We took advantage of the laundry service to wash our clothes (4€) and we hung them out to dry ourselves.
We had ensalada mixta’s for lunch. The afternoon was spent enjoying the property. We had nice chats with two guys, both retired, from Stuttgart, Germany and a British couple currently working in Madrid. They were both nurses, walking their first Camino. We talked about our recent Camino experiences and their experiences working in medical facilities during the pandemic.
We had a dinner in the albergue dining room and retired to our room at 8:30.
We began the day with a “moon set”… and a sunrise a half-hour later… not photo worthy.😉.
Most of the villages we’ve encountered yesterday and today end with Compos, “fields” in Spanish. After walking along a two lane paved road with light vehicle traffic but relatively heavy pilgrim traffic for couple of miles we passed quickly through Revenga en Campos, then back along the road. (Note: cyclist pilgrim pulling good size cart behind)
Next, we approached Villarmentero de Campos. It being about breakfast time, we saw an intriguing sign and decided to make a stop.
We returned to the road and “campos” and walked another 3 miles to Villalcazar de Sirga.
We waited comfortably in the La Cantigas Bar terrace until our room was ready.
After attending to some chores, we had a three course lunch in the Las Cantigas Bar, then walked to a nearby “supermarket”, about the size of our living room back home, to get some snacks for next several days and returned to our room.
Later, we ventured out to the huge church dwarfing our hostal and did the self-guided tour and got a stamp for our credential for the day.
Back in our room, we were more than adequately sated from our lunch, so we decided again to skip dinner and finish out the day blogging and reading.
We were on our way at 6:40, before first light. Linda captured this shot as we began walking along the Canal de Castile.
The Canal de Castile was intended to transport grain from Castile to the northern port of Santander on the bay of Biscay and to other markets from there; vice versa the canal was also intended to facilitate moving products from the Spanish colonies to Castile. Construction was started in 1753 and continued until 1849 with only 207 of the planned 400 km completed when work was halted as railroads began to be built to serve northern Spain. The canal ultimately evolved into a major part of an irrigation system still in use today.
We stopped for breakfast in Formista, then continued on to Población de Campos, to complete today’s planned walk.
We arrived at a very early 9:45, but the front door was open and when we identified ourselves, Carmen told us that our room was not ready, but we were welcome to come in and use the rest room and sit in the jardin behind the building until our room was ready. A few minutes after we were settled she brought us each a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and recognized us from our previous visits! We love this place, having stayed here in 2014 and 2017 and have been excited about returning since booking it several days ago for Camino 2022.
We got into our room about 10:15, did our chores, had a delicious lunch in the casa dining room ….
…..hung out in our room or the jardin: napping blogging and reading until lights out at 9:00 p.m.
We turned off the alarms for this morning and slept only an extra 45 minutes! With the shortage of bathroom space, we figured we’d have an easier time getting ready if we let most of the more than 30 other pilgrims go first. Our plan worked… we had the bathroom all to ourselves and left at 7:30.
We walked just over 5 miles, dictated by our reservations made two days ago. The Camino is still busy and we’re glad we made some more bookings in advance. The walk was less interesting than most.
We remember this section of the Camino, because about half way there is rise in the mostly flat terrain and at the crest, we could see the steeple of the church in Boadillo del Camino. But regardless of how much we actually advanced toward it, visually we didn’t appear to be making any progress. This has happened now for all 4 Camino’s and we can’t explain it.
The first records of Boadillo del Camino’s existence occur in AD905! The church and Rollo were built in the 15-16th centuries when the town became more affluent.
This is our first time to stay in Boadillo del Camino (pop. 70). We usually passed through early in the morning, in a hurry to make it to Formista or Población de Campos before it got too hot …and the only thing open was the bar at another albergue, where we would have breakfast and moved on.
Today we checked-in early, at 10:45, got showers, paid 7.50€ for laundry service, and ventured out while waiting for lunchtime at our Casa Rural Boadillo en el Camino.
We had one of our great Camino moments today. While wandering aimlessly around Boadillo, looking for a market, we were approached by a resident who asked if we spoke Spanish. He was clearly disappointed with our response, but motioned for another young man to come over who could speak English.
Mario Mediavilla, a young 80-year-old, said he had completed three Camino’s, the first in 1992 on a horse! He also said he knew English because he has a “rich” uncle who owns several liquor stores in NYC. He also pointed up the street to his new house.
After chatting for a few minutes longer, Mario asked if we would like to see his “museum”. We both responded simultaneously with “Si!” and we followed him up to the end of his street and to what appeared to be a garage door, with a chain, but no lock.
Mario opened the door and the first thing we saw was a cheese press, which he explained he used to make goat cheese. But all around us were relics, mostly farm implements, many over 100 years and older. Many were labeled like in an antique store.
He opened another door down to another lower level filled with all kinds of weighing scales, again many well over a hundred years old…also in one corner were a couple dozen aging cheese wheels… 90 days to maturity.
We continued into another room which was a garage occupied by a Mercedes Kompressor. The garage walls were neatly filled with displays of farm implements, skis, children’s antique toys, horse tack, etc. Jim asked Mario which saddle he rode in his first Camino and he proudly pointed to it.
At the end of our tour, Mario asked us to sign his guestbook. He said he so far had over 1000 entries! He also showed us and read to us, what appeared to be a prayer which we copied.
We then thanked Mario for sharing his wonderful “museum” and worked our way out of the building. As we walked down the street, Mario ushered us into a large barn (tractor engine running outside) and called out to his brother, who we’re sure felt left out from the English tour. His brother then guided us through the barn through a door in the rear, an we went outside to a large pen or corral for 15-20 goats… several who were close to delivery.
Mario pointed out one goat that was the unusual “brother” of four that were born to a dam this past season. We thanked Mario’s brother (name never revealed) and walked away in amazement at what we had just experienced.
Lord, teach me how to be a builder of your peace.
If I can encourage those who are dejected, if I can give strength to my neighbor, if I can cheer him up with my song, tell me how to do it, Lord.
If I can help those who suffer, if I can relieve any burden, if I can spread more joy, tell me how to do it, Lord.
If I can lift those who fell, if I can relieve sorrows and sufferings, if I can share life and path,
Tell me how to do it, Lord!
We returned to our casa and had a large lunch, probably enough for supper, too. We settled into our nice room, a palace, compared to yesterday and read, napped and blogged for the remaining afternoon.
After our full lunch, we decided to not have another meal and instead had a snack dessert and retired for the evening after a memorable day on the Camino Frances.
We thought we’d let you walk up the mountain with Linda this morning. Follow the photos below in left-to-right order… her perspective looking ahead and looking back on her way up.
The hermitage of San Nicholas de Puentefitero dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Its membership in the Order of the Knights of San Juan, later known as the Order of Malta, is documented and linked to the presence of the nearby Fitero Bridge over the Pisuerga River, an infrastructure of great importance that linked the kingdoms of Castilla y León and, today, to the provinces of Burgos and Palencia. The Knights of San Juan would have taken care to keep the bridge in good condition, facilitating the passage of pilgrims and also offering them their hospitality.
A famous traditional pilgrim shelter, it was restored by and is supported by the Italian Pilgrims Association.
We checked in to La Mochilla albergue soon after arriving in Itero de la Vega at 10:45. The albergue is a very old, make-shift collection of rooms with possibly 30 beds ( dormitory style) and two private rooms (w/o bathroom) of which we have one. There are two bathrooms with sinks, 1 working shower and ourdoor patio for socializing and meals, a basic kitchen for doing your own meal and a kitchen for albergue prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soon after occupying our room we had no key so Jim asked the owner for one and he came back with two containers of keys to try to find one that fit our door. He said (we think) that a prior occupant of our room apparently took the key with him as the owner began trying keys in the two boxes. Jim offered to look for him so he could get back to processing the line of other pilgrims waiting to rent beds for the night.
After trying all the keys in our door without a fit, we abandoned the effort and accepted that our room tonight is not “technically” private. (Jim considered asking for a discount but decided against it). This may not be the most primitive albergue we’ve stayed in, but it’s close… at 35€.
We met two delightful sisters from New Zealand who checked-in shortly before us. We had chats with them during breakfast and later for lunch in a nearby bar in Itero de la Vega.
Dinner tonight was with 8 other pilgrims. We had interesting conversations, mostly in English, even though 5 were from Spain. The other pilgrims were from Norway, Switzerland and Philadelphia. It was enjoyable and lasted until our new, normal bedtime, 8:45 p.m.
It was a chilly 52F when we left Hornillos at 6:50. We walked over two miles on a gradual incline until getting back to the “ table top”. We stopped all the way up to check the progress of another “flaming” sunrise.
then another mile, before going back down into a steeper but smaller bowl as we passed San Bol, off the trail on the left, a very primitive albergue (no electricity or running water) and then returned to the top.
The approach to Hontanas is interesting. After walking several miles or so on top of the meseta, one gets impatient, if not tired, and wonders, “ where’s Hontanas”?
Our previous Camino breakfast stop, an albergue (with no name to be found) was open, so we got a table and went inside to a dark building. Apparently they lost power a few minutes before we arrived and were doing their best to serve hungry, thirsty pilgrims that kept coming down the road into the village.
We had croissants, orange juice and pastry and plain coffee with milk and decided to call it a day. We called for a taxi and rode the final 5 miles into Castrojeris.
Castrojeris is one of Jim’s favorites. He began using trekking poles in 2014 and his first set broke on the meseta on the way to Hontanas. We figured he would have to wait until Leon to buy a replacement set. By chance, while in Castrojeris the next day, he saw some poles hanging in the window of a hardware store in the village square but the shop was closed. He made a fairly long walk from our albergue on the edge of town back to the store when it reopened in late afternoon. Luckily the poles were still there and he purchased the set for 39€ and used them for the rest of our walk in 2014. When we got back home, we found that comparable poles cost nearly $150. He has continued to use the same set through 2022, so far, over 1500 miles of Camino. Today the store was closed but Jim looked in the window at what was on display, with fond memories of that joyous day.
The Camino is getting really crowded the last several days. We think a new wave of pilgrims started September 1 and are now catching up and passing us. The net effect is extra stress on places to stay coupled by pandemic related closures. This became apparent to us as we tried to book places to stay in the coming week. Today we found out that the place we planned to stay tomortow night is permanently closed and no other alternatives were available to reserve.
So after having our main meal in our Hotel Iacobus (which, by the way, is very nice and comfortable) restaurant at 4:00, we got to work and planned our walks for the next 2 weeks and booked rooms for each night to eliminate the concern if not having a place to stay.
We left Meson del Cid at 7:00 via taxi to Tardajos, skipping the walk through the suburbs and along the expressway. It was a chilly 49F. Every morning for the past week has been high 40’s to low 50’s, excellent for walking.
Our breakfast stop was at Albergue La Casa de Beli, where we stayed in 2019. After finding our way through the maze of Tardajos streets, we continued on pavement for a mile to Rabe des Las Calzadas before beginning the gradual 2 mile climb up onto the Meseta.
For 2 miles after Rabe…., we walked on a gradual incline on our way up to the meseta. The meseta in northern Spain stretches some 120 miles from Burgos to Astorga. It is very flat, with few trees for shade. The Camino between the different towns/villages on the meseta has scarce services and water. Many of the towns along the meseta are in valleys or “bowls” several hundred feet below the meseta. Thus, the walk is typically flat terrain between villages, descending down to the village then climbing back up to the meseta to move on to the next village.
When we reached the meseta all we could see ahead of us and left and right was flat plain and blue sky.
We walked on the meseta for about a mile, then saw a”bowl” descending down to Hornillos del Camino then back up to the meseta.
We had a great dinner with over 30 pilgrims chowing down. A meeting place specialty is paella.
At the pilgrim dinner we were seated with some delightful Canadians from Montréal and Manitoba. We laughed a lot and shared lots of Camino stories. It was a fun evening.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
We had a nice pilgrim dinner in the Abad dining room with about 25-30 pilgrims attending between 7:00-9:00. A French couple sat at the table beside us and provided a test for Jim as we discussed a number of Camino and non-Camino topics. We think Jim got a C+.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fernando, the owner, shared some information with us about El Salto.
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.
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!
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.