Camino de Santiago Day 4: Belorado to Burgos, Spain

The last rays of the setting sun bathe one of the towers in a reddish glow.
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Camino de Santiago Day 4: Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

Day 4: Belorado to Burgos, 54 kms.

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Today, I ride to Burgos, a major stop along the route. The distance was only 54 kms. but there were steep climbs on the way. So I psyched myself up for what appeared to be a long haul. Left early past 6:00 AM as soon as the sky turned light.

Just after the outskirts of Belorado, my trolley fell and had to stop and tie it all up on the saddle.
Just after the outskirts of Belorado, my trolley fell and had to stop and tie it all up on the saddle.

Belorado to Burgos, 54 kms.

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Start of the long climb up the mountains of Villafranca. The view was lovely but pedaling was not!
Start of the long climb up the mountains of Villafranca. The view was lovely but pedaling was not!

The road immediately climbed upward right after leaving town and I pedaled most of the way on low gear to Villafranca, a not very appealing mountain town. It felt okay though I could hardly feel myself making any progress. Most of the time I kept my head bent looking down, trying to count the white stripes on the asphalt to take my mind off the long climb that I had to make. It was wooded countryside, the air was fresh and cool but I was gasping for breath! My legs could take it but I lacked resistance training since breathing came pretty hard. So I had to make several stops and every time, it was getting harder to continue. The last 2 kms. up the summit was the worst and I had to get down and walk the last hundred meters while pushing the bike.

Peregrino meal: grilled trout for lunch.
Peregrino meal: grilled trout for lunch.
Sometimes I did get to practise my photography, tired as I was, like shooting this abandoned warehouse while entering Burgos.
Sometimes I did get to practise my photography, tired as I was, like shooting this abandoned warehouse while entering Burgos.

I made it to the town of San Juan de Ortega a bit after noontime which was about 300 meters above Belorado where I began. There I had a big lunch and tried the local grilled trout with a bit of wine. After all that exertion I rewarded myself with a big tub of gelato.There was a wedding at the local church where I tarried along to watch and even got to congratulate the groom!

Another wedding, another town. This time in San Juan de Ortega
Another wedding, another town. This time in San Juan de Ortega
When rain catches me on the road with no shelter around, I wrap my bags with plastic, pedal forward and pray for the best!
When rain catches me on the road with no shelter around, I wrap my bags with plastic, pedal forward and pray for the best!

Surprisingly, as I was about to leave, drowsiness swept over me so I looked around and found a big oak tree with a nice shade and a gurgling stream nearby. It was a perfect spot for a nap so I spread the airline blanket that I snitched on the flight to Paris and laid it on the grass and snoozed…..

The beautiful stone facade of Burgos Cathedral.
The beautiful stone facade of Burgos Cathedral.

I suddenly woke up thinking I was under a shower but quickly found out that it was raining! So I quickly wrapped my two bags on the pannier with a black garbage bin plastic, put on my hat and waited for the rain to stop. It didn’t. Instead it got heavier and before I knew it, I was drenched and that’s when I realized I should have bought that plastic poncho in Pamplona when I left!

A canopy of trees covers the sidewalk in Burgos.
A canopy of trees covers the sidewalk in Burgos.

For about an hour it was just miserable rain and I started wondering if this was all worth it – being drenched to the bone in the middle of nowhere with a bike laden with 10kilos of luggage which I had to trundle along for about 500kms. more! Why, I could just return it to the rental company in Burgos, swap it with a car and drive all the way to Santiago in comfort and that would be it. It seemed the best and most logical thing to do. Then two pilgrims passed by walking and waved at me with the usual Buen Camino! greeting. Well, I thought, there must be some reason to this madness if those two were still smiling and seemed to be enjoying their walk. And so when the rain petered out to a drizzle, I saddled up and went my way once again as before. Santiago was waiting!

The last rays of the setting sun bathe one of the towers in a reddish glow.
The last rays of the setting sun bathe one of the towers in a reddish glow.
Delicate Gothic-designed arches at its finest
Delicate Gothic-designed arches at its finest

The rest of the route was downhill and pretty easy. Thoughts of quitting left my mind and when the late afternoon sun came out as the clouds slowly drifted away, all was well with the world once again. The quick-dry Nike clothing I wore lived up to its promise so when I got to Burgos late in the day, it was dry as if by magic! I looked for an albergue to spend the night, dumped my stuff in the small room, locked Compo in the parking yard then headed for the center of town some three blocks away.

Behind this row of houses was the albergue where I spent the night in
Behind this row of houses was the albergue where I spent the night in
Entrance to the large plaza around the cathedral
Entrance to the large plaza around the cathedral

The Burgos Cathedral, dedicated to St. Mary, was huge and a sight to behold even from afar! With its magnificent Gothic architecture, it was elegantly built in the 12th century with lovely stone tracery on the facade and looked every inch what a great cathedral should be – just like the ones in built in Paris and Rheims. El Cid, the hero of the Reconquista (the war against the Moors who occupied much of Spain at that time) was buried there. I went inside its cool, vast and serene interiors and prayed, thanking God for a safe journey and bringing me almost a third of the way closer to my final destination.

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