12th and 13th Day: Ages to Burgos and Rest Day

Yesterday, the group of ten of us who have been walking together for the last three days made our way 25 kilometers from Ages to Burgos. The beginning of the walk was interesting. We crossed over a small mountain, where sheep cluttered the rocky path to the top. After reaching the other side, the city of a Burgos was already in sight. But our eyes deceived us. What seemed like five km from our high vantage point, was actually still four and a half hours away.

Eventually, we arrived on the outskirts of the city. The old city of Burgos is full of tiny streets, alleyways and stone buildings that surround a sprawling, three domed cathedral in the center. The outskirts of the city – broad streets, stop lights and industrial complexes – sit in stark contrast to the centers old world charm. The seven kilometers through the smog and smell of sulphur of the cities peripherals was the least enjoying stretch of the Camino for me so far.

After 288 kilometers of walking, most people in the group wanted to stop in Burgos to recuperate for an extra day. I want to arrive in Santiago de Compostela on the 18th of April, in order to meet Stephanie, my girlfriend, who is flying in from Brussels on the 19th. With a rest day, I will have to to make up an extra day’s hike spanned out over the next 19 days.

The rest has done wonders for my swollen ankle and the cathedral of Burgos is the most beautiful I have seen on the Camino so far. Although I didn’t particulary care for the inside, as the city has decided to make the cathedral into a makeshift museum, with certain sections cordoned off behind bars or glass, the outside is stunning. Walking around the cathedral will take you around 10 minutes, as it occupies roughly a city block, and even more if you decide to take pictures. Around each corner, the facade offers a unique perspective. If you are a pilgrim, the entrance fee is only 3.50 instead of 7 Euros.

Tomorrow two of the group members end their Camino and head back to Germany. The Camino seems to intensify the relationships with people, which if I think about it, makes sense. Everyday you are around each other constantly. You wake up at the same time, pack your bags together, provide tylenol for those with aches and pains, share food and water along the route, explore villages and towns and make your way back to your Refugio to ultimately fall asleep in the same 50 person dormitory. As two leave and I have to push on faster than others, it may be that our little group of ten has seen its last night together. Then again, the Camino is long and you often see the same people later along the Way. I am looking forward to see how it all shakes out.

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