Been a bit busy for the last few days. Main news is that Ellen had a muscle injury to her leg. We limped into a small place called Bellorado, after a day of showers. Foolish me dived into the first Albergue, a mistake. It was attached to a church and run by Swiss volunteers but was a bit basic, cramped, a bit dirty and distinctly lacking in toilets. Even though it was free, we wouldn't have been in a hurry to stay. Never mind we slept reasonably, met yet more Irish pilgrim tourists out for a good time. In the end Ellen and Birte our German young female friend decided to bus it into Burgos two days walk away.
After my favourite coffee con leche, freshly squeezed oranje juice and a pan chocolate, I decided to walk it. After a couple of wrong turns I found the camino again and off I went, like a train. I finally managed the first day's distance after 6 hours and had a tuna pasty (empanadas). I realised I had caught up with the French fit brigade who had set off an hour earlier. All female, all independent and all female over 60. What is it with French women walkers. All four were on their second thousand kilometers, all small and a little dumpy. Antoine who I manage to chat to en francais thanks to Sophie, was typical. She was 64, set off over a month ago, walks 30 – 40 km a day, and walks bloody fast. We walked for 9 km together into the second days milage, but could I shake her. I really went my fastest for a while after she had the cheek to take a photo. Less than a minute later she was back up with me, fully caped cruising by. I give up. What is a full blooded Englishman to do.
We finally said goodby after 34km on the road. I went on!!! What the hell, I can make Burgos. I warn Ellen, and off I go. Only to be met by a large limestone ridge and pissing rain. Have a surreal conversation in the rain with an older American couple about Doc Martin, say goodbye and make the final push to Burgos. It is of course a big city, with all the outer big city stuff. First posh executive village, then over motorway where I was greeted by an Eddie Stobart lorry, circumnavigated an endless airport perimeter and finally a railway shunting yard. Eventually I reach a massive out of town roundabout with a road that led straight and endless into the distance. I had convinced myself I had 5-6 km to go. Consternation at the sign that calmly declared 10 km down the endless road of junctions, roundabouts, factories and very noisy lorries. Finally I reached the residential forrest of blocks of flats. Nice though it was to see people I felt pretty out of it. I was heeling to the right, my inner thighs were chafing so I was hoisting my trouser leg and I viewed pavements as huge plateaux. Busy junctions were fast becoming impossible. I felt like Quasimodo, invisible and beyond sufferering. Pictures of Ellen who proved slightly problematic to find, and a giant cerveza kept me going. I found both, was de socked by Ellen and went to sleep after 52km and two cervezas grandes. Wow never again.
The hotel was fab. Ultra Ikea and run by the female Tapas bar owner opposite. The avenue was buzzing and great. Went out for a pizza with Birte and Edwina the following evening. Strolled around the mega cathedral in the morning, Ellen doing some sketching. Not my favourite cathedral hence lack of pictures, but impressive none the less. I do get a bit bored of the over the top baroque gold stuff. Didn't detract from the great atmosphere of Burgos. A great Spanish city and definitely not short of economic activity judging by the busy centre and the endless teeming factories I walked past.
We are in a small Albergue in a small village (Rabe de la Calzadas) 10 miles out of Burgos. Three dorms of six each. Very friendly communal meal. Communication reached new heights of difficulty, sitting next to a deaf man who only lip reads Dutch. Managed to write a few communications in French. Sharing a room with a Frenchman. He is unusually very chatty, but only in French. Depressing as we can almost have a decent conversation, being French he only speaks French, unlike our Spanish which is very bad. The French seem a bit lost and lonely as they really don't speak the good old lingua Franca. Meal was preceded at the local bar with a giant American from Tennesee, long chat re his PhD in comparative religion. Nice guy.
Before bed we went for a pilgrim's blessing at the ridiculously sweet convent around the corner. Difficult to say any more than that. It really is only by being on the camino that we would have run into them at all. A sweet earnest community living amongst us noisy people.