Camino Frances (Part 6) : Who said the Camino is no party?
Updated: Jul 13, 2019
Looking back, the Camino seemed to have melted into phases. Phase of learning (the Pyrenees), phase of personal challenges (Roncesvalles - Pamplona) and phase of meeting new people (Zubiri to Logroño). There would be other phases, but more about those in my other blogs.
I guess the best way to describe the next couple of stages (Logroño to Burgos) of the Camino is the party phase. Of all the stretches, this is the one I most partied on (well besides the day we drank Óbanos dry waiting for the Albergue to open it's doors).
This part of the Camino follows the N-120 highway and often crosses under and over it. There were sections that were too close to the road for me - I preferred the meanderings across fields and countryside - away from modern traffic.
We started out planning a short day of 15 kms (9 miles) from Logroño to Navarrete. I found that the pattern of walk we had eased into was to walk 2 to 3 days averaging 23 kms (14 miles) followed by a short day of 15 kms (9 miles). This gave us the time and space to enjoy each day to the fullest and allow for some rest every couple of days. With booking ahead, we had no pressure to find a bunk which meant no rushing to be first at the Albergue door. I just loved this rhythm and for Helen, it helped keep her Tendinitis in check.
Navarrete to Azofra (21 kms/13 miles) was a beautiful walk and we landed up having to overnight in a haunted church dormatory because the Municipal Albergue was full (there were no private Albergues in the area so we had not pre-booked). We shared the dormatory with 3 American women whom we had seen on and off over the previous few days. Often Helen and I would play guessing games as to what the profession of someone was just by looking at them. Well, we were convinced that these ladies were Nuns! They looked like nuns and spending the night with them convinced us even more as they let on that they were doing a religious pilgrimage (this reinforced our assumption). It wasn't until Santiago when we bumped into them did we actually ask them what they did. Just goes to show - assumptions are rarely right! Of course they were NOT Nuns! They were 3 friends walking a section of the Camino who just happened to be religious and spent time visiting the Cathedrals, churches and monasteries along the way.
Spain has some of the most beautiful Cathedrals and I visited many, lighting a candle where I could for my family. Did I mention to you that I grew up Roman Catholic? Well I did. I am not a practicing Roman Catholic, I am not a practicing anything religious but I do respect the sanctuary of the church. I love the spiritual space it provides and allows me to connect and light a candle...
On Day 11 we tackled the 20 kms (13 miles) to Grañon via Santo Domingo. Oh my word what a day! A'nnibal hooked up with us and what felt like an hour was actually 15 kms (9.3 miles). We chatted and laughed so much - food for the soul I say. A'nnibal was a real hoot, a man who even in his 30.s phoned his Mama every day. He was walking in normal leather shoes and had very bad blisters and in spite of this, he never complained. Nurse Helen stepped in and sorted his feet out as best as she could. (Helen had a tablet/plaster for any occasion). Kilometres/Miles passed by while we were having fun. This day was one that really stood out for me. I guess it was the laughter.
We arrived in Santo Domingo and found a sports store where we convinced A'nnibal to buy proper shoes. To celebrate we found a cafe to have lunch and of course Vino Tinto. Helen and I rolled out of there around 4pm with still some 6 kms (3,7 miles) to go. The cafe was situated on the main route of the Camino, and we were joined by many a pilgrim on their way past. Some stopped for a bite and others, just a glass of orange juice/Vino Tinto.
We grudgingly left A'nnibal (he was overnighting in Santo Domingo) and headed on to Grañon. I have to tell you, I don't remember much about that stretch, suffice it to say that Helen and I merrily made our way to our Albergue in Grañon - no trouble!
Once settled in our Albergue, we went into the village to seek dinner. Well, never mind dinner, it was jugs of Sangria, music and pilgrims. What an amazing vibe.
The music, singing and fellowship amongst the people around the table was vibrant. We were a bunch of pilgrims from all corners of the earth, each speaking different languages and some not understanding others. But it was no problem, music, laughter and Sangria ensured that we all enjoyed the festivities. It was probably one of my most memorable evenings on the Camino! I do remember at some point going live on FaceBook .... the signal was not good, but I did get to speak to my brother and his wife, Clive & Louise! Helen and I dragged ourselves up to our Albergue (it was on a hill above the town centre) and pretty much died that night.
The only cafe in the village closed its doors and Helen and I were invited to the only other Albergue to join the crowd for dinner. This second to Orisson, was my most favourite meal on the Camino!
We left Grañon early the next morning and headed out for the 15,7 km (10 Mile) walk to Belorado, grateful for the short day while nursing our headaches.
Day 12 was uneventful with us both deciding to take the bus into San Juan de Ortega. Helen's leg was giving her hell and we needed to get her to a Physio again. Unfortunately the only Physio was in Burgos so we headed on to the city. We landed up spending 2 days here while Helen had treatment. It was an amazing two days during which we were able to see the sights. I loved Burgos.
In hindsight, these two days enabled me to rest and reenergise myself for what was to come.