May 26, 2011 Atapuerca to Burgos

Had dinner last night with Natalie and Susan of Spokane and Matlan of Costa Rica. Great conversation. Natalie is a pancreatic cancer survivor and a fun lady. Talked lots about Luke and girls.

Left albergue at 06:15 after very hot night in top bunk. Walked uphill after Atapuerca and attacked by mosquitoes at cross atop hill. Then walked downhill to many small farming suburb/villages before taking the righthand option at the airport. Bad choice. Ten km of desolation and trucks. Never saw a plan take off or land by the airport I walked next to for an hour.

Arrived at Meson del Cid hotel at almost exactly same time as Michelle and Robert, who had taken the left option into Burgos. They declared their walk “tres jolie,” a reminder that I’d chosen the wrong path. In Burgos by 11:30 so walked around to shops looking for boots. Went via taxi to the Decathlon store. Huge disappointment as carried only discount Spanish brands. Saw Cloud and Tom and Alish at McDonald’s adjacent to store. They told me about the bus back to Burgos. Met up with Luke, Gal, Lila and Swiss Monique for pizza dinner — couldn’t find anything else that was vegetarian. Luke wants to walk with the girls until the last moment, rather than heading to Barcelona. Am thinking that’s ok, except leaves me with only options of hanging with Rocky or being alone. Will have to think that through. Most likely option is for me to begin 30+ km days and get to Santiago quickly so can do other things afterward, including Barcelona.

Night at Meson del Cid, planned to see cathedral in morning with Monique, then short walking day.

June 5, 2008 Atapuerca to Burgos

As I opened my eyes in the morning I was surprised to see Fran├žois, Fran├žoise and Pierre standing next to my bed. When they saw I was awake they said, “Merci, Monsieur.” “Merci? Pourquois?” Why, I asked myself, were they standing around my bed at this early hour? Pierre then described to me how today was the day the Allies had planned to launch their invasion of Normandy. The French, Pierre said, were very grateful for the help of the Americans and on the eve of the anniversary of the actual Normandy invasion the three French people wanted to say thanks to me, an American. I was humbled — not because of anything I’d done, but because of the sincere gratitude expressed by these people who’d benefitted from something my country had done many years ago.

The three French people left before me and I began the long walk into Burgos. At the airport I took the option to the left, said to be a little shorter than the one to the right. Still, it was a long slog through industrial areas. Finally I reached the old city and walked through the gates toward the cathedral. I chose to stay at the Meson del Cid, a delightful hotel above the western cathedral plaza. That afternoon I scouted out a place to purchase new hiking boots and, at the urging of several European pilgrims along the way, I also opted to buy hiking poles which were supposed to ease the strain on my feet and legs. Though the cathedral was closed I did get a stamp for my credential at the cathedral museum and toured the exhibits there.

Once again it was nice to settle into a comfy hotel and enjoy a dinner at a nice restaurant. Burgos is a beautiful and historic city — the site of Ferdinand and Isabella’s famous interview with Christopher Columbus as they considered whether to finance his expedition across the ocean to India.

As I fell asleep I looked back over the 285 kilometers (178 miles) I’d walked over the past couple of weeks. My feet had healed up some from the blisters and with my new hiking boots I expected to have an even better camino in the miles ahead.