3 May 2016 – Grañón to Burgos.

At Grañón the walking ended for the time being. We caught the bus to Burgos and found to my delight that the bus followed the Camino route for a while. It wasn’t without a slight twinge of guilt and quite a bit of envy that I watched other pilgrims walking from my comfy coach seat.

We managed to find beds in the Municipal Albergue and settled in. We both had separate errands to run, Francois went exploring Burgos and I had to find a dentist to sort out a broken filling.

During the afternoon I heard people speaking Afrikaans and naturally went to investigate. What a delight to meet two South African pilgrims who happened to come from my part of the world and even knew some of my relatives! We got together and enjoyed dinner that evening. A new restaurant had recently opened and the owner begged us to come in and try it out. We were the only customers there, and they served the most delicious food.

And so off to bed, conscious that a very long bus journey to Barcelona awaited us the next day.

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Above – bus stop near Grañón

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View from bus window

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Burgos Cathedral

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Burgos Municipal Albergue

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South African pilgrims

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The sun setting on Burgos Cathedral

2 May 2016 – Azofra to Grañón

Azofra with its twin rooms afforded us the luxury of getting up early and packing our bags without disturbing others. It also has a café which serves breakfast at 6 am. It was quite cold, with a crisp frost on the ground. We kept going at a leisurely but steady pace, going straight through Cirueña, and finally stopping in Santa Domingo de Calcada.

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The sign behind the bar says “Good coffee is a pleasure, good friends… A treasure. ”

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We pushed on and soon rolled into Grañón. This is where we wanted to spend the night.

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The village is quite small, but the paroquial albergue is quite a special place. It is in the back of the church and the hospitality is very welcoming. Pilgrims are included in the preparation of a communal meal, and afterwards invited to a time of reflection in the choir gallery.

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1 May 2016 – Logroño to Azofra

This blog post has taken several attempts over 2 days to upload. I’m already in Burgos at the time of posting the finished story.

We decided to skip the first section through the streets of Logroño and the park, and took the local bus to Navarrete. After breakfast we set off. Francois spent the rest of the morning walking with a German pilgrim we met the previous evening and I walked ahead to stretch my legs. Ventosa provided a quick pit stop, and we reached Nájera by early lunch time.
The next few photos show some of the beautiful landscape of La Rioja.

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In Nájera we happened upon a local festival. First there was a reenactment of some historic event. It appeared that some neighbouring regions were united through clever diplomacy, some sword fighting and a mysterious figure in white who revived fallen soldiers. A king was crowned, the crowd cheered and all was as it should be. Anyway, that’s as much as I could figure out.

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Afterwards the Camino route took us through a medieval street market, with pony rides, sword fighting, beautiful local produce and a falconry display.

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Azofra is only a few kilometres past Nájera. It has a unique municipal albergue which offers a large courtyard, kitchen and dining area, with only twin rooms, not a bunk bed in sight. We spent a leisurely afternoon doing the usual chores and had a great night’s sleep.

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30 April 2016 – Los Arcos to Logroño

We managed to find a small cubicle with only 2 bunk beds in Los Arcos, and agreed with the two other peregrinos that we’d make an early start the next morning. We needed to get to Logroño.
Before first light we hit the road and stopped for breakfast in Torres del Río.

Next stop was early lunch in Viana. This has been the longest distance so far, also hard going as quite chilly and windy. We had to scramble into our weatherproof gear when a quick shower swept through, only to peel it off soon after when it got warmer again.

Viana has a beautiful church.

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We pushed on to Logroño, only stopping to collect a sello from Felisa’s daughter where you enter La Rioja.

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We had been listening for cuckoos and today we finally heard our first one. To me it is an essential part of the soundtrack to a spring Camino.

I have enjoyed the storks too, but haven’t managed to capture a good photo, so this weather vane will have to do.

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In Logroño we found a bed for the night, then took a local bus to Decathlon, for Francois to get rain trousers.

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We stayed in the Albergue Parroquial de Santiago, associated with the church of Iglesia de Santiago el Real. We attended mass, then enjoyed a communal meal, followed by evening prayers in the church. You can access the church from inside the albergue via a “secret passage”. We were encouraged to stay close together as the story goes that three Italian pilgrims got left behind in the dark when they wandered off to explore the clock tower. The evening devotions were simple but a very meaningful experience. And so off to bed we drifted.

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29 April 2016 – Estella to Los Arcos

The walk from Estella to Los Arcos will be remembered for beauty. It started quite chilly after a clear night. We refuelled at the petrol station just before leaving town (the convenience store inside serves breakfast). It isn’t far from there to the Irachi winery where you can top up your water bottle with wine from the fountain if you want to. I took a little sip for the photo but we had 20 km ahead so that was the limit.

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We took the left fork that takes you uphill through beautiful woodland, and stopped for lunch at Lorquin. From there it was an easy walk on gravelled roads to Los Arcos.

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28 April 2016 – Puente la Reina to Estella

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We had a really comfortable night’s sleep and left Padres Reparadores Albergue around 07.30. Just a few metres away a café served breakfast from 6 am, great for those early risers.

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I love those mornings when the sun gives a golden glow to Spanish villages.

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The section between Puente La Reina and Estella is one of my favourite walks, only about 20 km, a few steep uphills at the start but quite gentle after that.

Today was perfect, with very few clouds, just a cooling breeze, and some of the gems of the Camino to walk through.

Cirauqui is one such village.

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And then there is Lorca. There are 2 albergues. The one on the right is the place to stop. Meet José Ramón, a man of good taste. He gets the café con leche going when you walk in the door, the food is fresh and the music lifts your soul. He plays only opera and choir music. We were just about to leave when the paella came out. So we stayed of course. An hour later we left and the pace to Estella was decidedly more leisurely.

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It was great to see that the world map just outside Lorca is well tended.

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Not much to say about the rest of the day. We booked into Estella municipal albergue and went through the usual routine of a shower, doing the laundry, walking around town and having the peregrino meal in the evening.

Buenos noches.

 

27 April 2016 – Pamplona to Puente La Reina

Morning came much too soon, however the lovely showers in Casa Ibarrola got us going. This is one of the best Albergues on the Camino and I have stayed here twice. Click on the link above for more information and pictures of the sleeping capsules.

After breakfast we set off, first stopping at Caminoteca to get Francois a fleece. Our (pleasantly cool) European spring weather turned out to be a shock to someone coming from a hot South African summer. This is a wonderful resource for the Camino, as you’ll see from their website. They’ve really put an effort into stocking everything needed for walking this route, and they now open early in the morning.

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Our walking speeds are very well matched  and we made good progress out of Pamplona, through Cisur Menor, Zariquiegui and to Alto del Perdón. As usual it was quite blowy up there and we only stopped for the obligatory photos.

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I’m not a fan of steep downhills strewn with loose shingle, but we made it down to Uterga, despite my knees protesting.

After a break we pushed on to Muruzábal, where we diverted to Eunate. This added a 3 km diversion, which is well worth it. Except when we got there a coach full of tourists pulled up just as I was trying to take a photo. And the church was closed before the scheduled time. Still a wonderful place to visit, even from the outside.

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We booked into the parochial Albergue in Puente la Reina, a bargain at €5. Its claim to fame according to my guide is the good washing lines. We made use of them. And when we got back from dinner we were able to dry our still damp socks on the radiator in the room. Prima!

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