September 10, 2022

Burgos, Spain

Dear Family & Friends: 

Rest day in Villa Franca Montes de Oca, September 8, 2022 

I took a much needed rest day in Villafranca (“French Town”) Montes de Oca (“Heart of all things Goose”) on September 8. The primary reason for this break was to deal with the pain in my back that had persisted for the last 4-5 days. It was a fun, mostly uneventful day. I loved my HosteI and my gracious hostess, Kristina. I occupied a tiny room on the third floor, much like a poor college student trying to make ends meet whilst pursuing a life dream. Kristina suggested I wash my clothes in the kitchen sink on the ground floor. I was surprised, but I accepted the offer. I had a fantastic dinner at the San Anton Abad, a luxury hotel just up the road from my Hostel. My starter was potatoes with chorizo soup, and the main course was eggplant stuffed with meat. Beyond delicious!  

Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca, September 9, 2022 (11.2 miles)

On September 9, I pushed off from Villafranca Montes de Oca to my next destination, Atapuerca, a distance of 11.2 miles. I was concerned about the condition of my back. It turned into a glorious day. I had no pain in my back for the entire journey. Was it the rest day, the Spanish meds or the lighter backpack? Whatever the medium of recovery, I am convinced all was guided by the beneficent Hand of God. Thanks also for your thoughts and prayers. 

My pace was significantly faster than before, and I arrived in Atapuerca in just 5 hours. The trip started with a significant uphill climb into a dense pine and fern forest. In the past, this forest served as a bandit hideout. I stopped at the Monumento de los Caidos, a war monument marking a mass grave. At this location, 300 people were murdered in the early months of the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939.

The day was cool and breezy.

 I arrived at Atapuerca at 1 pm. The Village has existed since around 750, when it was a small Christian settlement. Atapuerca is known as the place of Europe’s oldest human remains and is famous for its architectural sites. At the entrance to the Village, there is a large billboard with an artist’s depiction of an ancient Atapuercan who lived in the Village over 1.2 million years ago. He is  looking over his shoulder. From the expression on his face, I wonder what this “Mona Lisa of the Camino” was thinking. Any guesses? 

Since I could not book a room in Atapuerca, I booked a room in Quintanapalla, which is not on the Camino de Santiago. A nice family in Atapuerca offered me a ride to Quintanapalla, because it was more than 5 miles off the trail. I accepted the offer with gratitude. 

 Atapuerca to Burgos, September 10, 2022 (12.8 miles) 

I taxied back to Atapuerca on September 10 and was on the Camino at 8 am. The terrain changed dramatically from forests and ferns to Montana “Big Sky Country.” The rolling hills under a clear blue sky were beautiful. I arrived in Burgos at 1:30 pm, my best time on the Camino so far. Burgos is much like Pamplona as a big, bustling medieval city that straddles the Arlanzon River. It is a college town with a lot of carousing and nightlife  by the students, especially on a Saturday night. 

Tomorrow, I depart for Hornbills del Camino.

Someone please give Ollie a hug and kiss for me. Also, take him for a bike ride on Sunday as I do every week. I really miss my best buddy.

My Hostel in Villafranca

My tiny room in Villafrfanca

My dinner at the luxury hotel in Villafranca

Villafranca to Atapuerca

Monumento de los Caidos

The Mona Lisa de Camino

Blue Sky Country to Burgos

Burgos in the distance

Entering Burgos

Papa working his blog post in Burgos

Downtown Burgos

The famous Cathedral de Santa Maria