Day 12: Atapuerca to Burgos (and it’s amazing Cathedral)
“Too much boring”, the sign on the pole said and it was entirely correct. There was a lot of boring. Everywhere I looked I saw only boring. Boring car yards, boring furnture wholesalers, boring electronic stores …. a whole lot of boring. Such is the 13 km walk into Burgos.
The day had started off well enough, a semi-decent night’s sleep and an early start up a hill saw me soon get into the groove. I powered ahead, ignored my knee and within a little over an hour was rewarding myelf with a pastry and coffee in the sleepy, slowly decaying town of Cardenuela. I chatted to a couple of Aussie’s when they arrived and then headed off for the long and dreaded last leg into Burgos.
It’s soul destroying to those of us who have walked mountains, jumped streams, wended our way through vineyards and brushed our hands across fields of wheat to have to walk through the morass that is a city’s industrial zone. Many people take a bus into Burgos to avoid this too much boring walk through the industrial zone. I see why but I think they miss the point. These boring bits are sometimes the hardest to keep motivated through, the time when your desire to walk 800km comes crashing against reality and the only thing that makes you go on is sheer will power. It’s these times when you test your resolve. By busing it through you miss too much boring but perhaps you also miss out on something else.
The walk into Burgos does not stand out particularly. There was the kilometre of parked trucks all with their blinds up as truckies snoozed inside. Many factories and few, few people. Every now and then a yellow shell or arrow would serve to lift my spirits and tell me I’m on the right path. I’ve come to love these little signs. Like a secret pathway that only some of us know, shells, yellow arrows, red & white swatches these are our secret signs that bond us. I know when someone’s left an arrow that they left it for me. It gives me a lift and ensures I never feel lost. Except when there isn’t an arrow or it’s another colour… then the world begins to fray a little.
I eventually arrived in the centre of beautiful Burgos with it’s Gothic Cathedral spires drawing me in like a lighthouse beacon for the last few kilometres. Winding my way through quiet Sunday streets with few people around I was soon sitting on the stone street outside Burgos’ new and modern Albergue. I was soon joined by pilgrims and we sat chatting within sight of gothic towers. Just before twelve the bells began to peel, first one, then two then joined by more until finally other churches joined the Quasimodo chorus. Discordant, sonorous and evocative I think church bells will forever more remind me of Spain.
I lunched within sight of the cathedral and admired it’s splendour, the carved saints, spires and gargoyles gave it an otherworldly appearance from other churches I’d been seeing. So much intricate detail ornamented the outside of this church that I circled it a number of times to appreciate some of it’s beauty. This home to the legendary warrior El Cid is certainly the most spectacular building yet encountered on the Camino. It’s asymetrical, has numerous spires, gargoyles and saints, it glows a colour that’s changed from early morning bronze to late afternoon concrete white, it has layers like a wedding cake, and multiple platforms at sime angles it looks more like mad vampyric castle than church and yet from others look iconically religious.