Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Camino De Santiago: Playing Hooky in Burgos!

 We were all a little giddy to be taking a day off from the Camino. Somehow it seemed to give us all the thrill of skipping school. We decided the night before to all meet up at 8:00 (we still had to be out of the albergue by then like normal!) and have chocolate con churros for breakfast. Well...I don't know what happened to everyone. In the end it was just the Brazilian guys and me, but we had a blast... you can tell! We were in such great moods!

Just about everything was still closed, but we finally found a bar open for breakfast. We sat at the counter and had coffee and churros with big smiles on our faces. That one-song-that-I-always-think-is-a-Train-song-but-isn't came on, and I don't know who started it, but before I knew it we were all three dancing around on our stools. 

After breakfast, some waiting in the cold while the boys checked into their hotel (they didn't want to repeat at the albergue because the volunteer working there didn't seem to like Brazilians--We decided to chalk it up to him having lost a woman to a Brazilian guy way back in the day...because a bitter ex-lover sounded better than a racist!), then waiting a little bit longer in the cold (it's always cold in Burgos!) for one of the boys to write an email to his lady friend (we forgave him because he was yelling into the streets how happy and in love he was), and some schedule checking in the bus station, we finally made our way into the Burgos cathedral. 

The cathedral is HUGE and, while there are still services, the inside of it is mostly open to visitors as a museum these days.  

It's difficult to tell from this picture, but this is the grave of El Cid

In the cloister

Back in the plaza I was looking around for a nice place to have a coffee--we couldn't check back in to the albergue until 2pm or so and it was so cold outside that I was looking for someplace to warm up. I peaked into one of the cafes, and who was in there? My retired friends from Sevilla! We chatted for a while and talked about the good times we'd had together so far. They were continuing on the next day and I was headed to Cantabria for a couple of days to see friends, so this was our last day on the Camino together. 

A little later it was time for another snack/warm up/toilet stop. There was an old fashioned sweet shop in the plaza that looked like it would do the trick. This is what I call the snack of champions: tea cookie, piece of dark chocolate, and an extra strength ibuprofen! 

This also reminds me of the fact that one of my first stops in Burgos was the pharmacy. We had gone days without access to a pharmacy--they were all either closed for the weekend/evening or the towns were too small to have one. In Spain a pharmacy is where you can buy Tylenol/bandaids/sunscreen/etc. There was a pharmacy just to the right of the cathedral where I told the pharmacist--The inside of the cathedral was nice, but not as beautiful as the inside of the pharmacy. I think I was down to one ibuprofen at that point, so it was nice to stock up on all kinds of pilgrim essentials.

Why do Spaniards love these trees so much?

I got tipped off by the people working at the hostel (I felt extra bad for the Brazilian boys because the couple was so  nice to me!) that the Las Huelgas Monastery was worth a visit. Even though it was 2km away, and I could only visit with a tour that was in all in Spanish, I went for it. It was fantastic. One of my favorite historical sights of the entire Camino. 

Las Huelgas--still an inhabited and completely cloistered monastery. They still had original floors in some of the rooms! Their museum was impressive (800 year old clothes from the kings and queens who were buried there). It was incredibly fascinating--if you are ever in Burgos, go!

Ah, and then I was also tipped off that there was a concert at a church down the road from the albergue to kick of Semana Santa (Easter Week). Even though it started kind of late (8:15 or so!) I decided to go. The acoustics of the church mixed with the fantastic choir made it an unbelievable experience. It was as if every single square inch of the space was filled with music, suspended there, and then saturated with harmonies. It was goose-bump inducing. 

Finally, back at the hostel it was time to say goodbye to some people. Several people were taking buses through the meseta or had carried on walking instead of spending the day in Burgos. I had to say goodbye to everyone just the same because I would be taking 2 more days off to head north (by bus). It was a strange feeling to say bye to all of these people that I had known for 10 days or less. I remember being surprised at how sad I was to say goodbye to my Sevillan friends here--Juanma and Maica. (Aren't they cute?)

Overall, even with the goodbyes, Burgos was one of my very favorite cities of the Camino. 

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