Visiting our Camino Mentors and Picking up Stela

After a delightful night’s sleep at Pam and James’ home in Fredericksburg, we took off on Friday morning to have lunch in Williamsburg with our Camino mentors. Russ’ sister Phyllis and her husband Otis introduced us to the Camino in 2007 when they walked it for the first time. We thought they had lost their minds when they told us about their plans. However, their photo of relaxing in Molinaseca changed our minds and we too became Camino lovers. It was wonderful to share some time with them on the way home from this adventure.

From there, we went to get our Stela. She remembered us and was happy to see us. Daughter Meg and son-in-law Steve loved for to pieces, and were not really sorry to have us take her back. She is a lot of dog, especially for dachsund enthusiasts. We had another good night’s rest and drove the 12 hours to Florida on Friday, beating Tropical Storm Nestor to Gainesville. A perfect ending to the trip!

Home Sweet Home

Scenery and a Busy Hotel

The bus ride from Burgos to Madrid is only a couple of hours. The scenery is beautiful, through mountains and desert. The bus dropped us at the airport and we caught a shuttle to the Ibis Aeropuerta hotel. It has almost 200 rooms and was a beehive of efficient, friendly service. We cringed when we saw the line to checkin. But it took only minutes for the staff to handle a dozen or so ahead of us.

Our rooms were clean and comfortable. The bar is open 24/7 for cool drinks and bar food, which we were ready to enjoy. The dining room opened at 7:30, a wonderfully welcome time for pilgrims. In the morning, they start serving breakfast at 4:00! Happily, we did not need to be there until 7:00. We caught the shuttle again and were at the airport to begin the — always awful — flight across the ocean.

All in all, in very acceptable ending to a marvelous time in Spain!

Traveling Back to Madrid

Yesterday’s weather bluster calmed to steady chill by this morning. We woke to 39 degrees and sunshine. All the locals had their winter coats on. We donned ALL our layers and ventured out for a morning of coffee and working on our sketchbooks.

In the afternoon, already feeling sorry our Camino was ending, we walked the city in our backpacks until time to head for the bus station and Madrid for tomorrow’s return to Virginia.

Russ enjoying the cathedral under blue skies
coffee and breakfast at the cafe bar
We worked in our sketchbooks here. If we had wanted beer, it apparently would have been cold!
A great people-watching restaurant near the cathedral
a last walk along the river
an art exhibit along the promenade

Day 14 – Burgos

The weather turned blustery today. We feel lucky to be at the end of our trail for this year. We spent the day at the cathedral, doing art, and slowly recovering from yesterday’s long trek.

our hotel’s lobby
Burgos cathedral
a portal to the city
sky drama
a favorite in the cathedral
alabaster arch
almost too much
learning in the cathedral
afternoon together fun

Day 13 — Burgos

Getting a bite to eat before starting up the hill out of Atapuerca

Our final long walking day covered almost 14 Camino miles. The first third were up and over a magnificent, sometimes rocky hill and along its ridge before down through fields.

nice trail up the hill
except for the rocky part
at the top
and another cool
down the other side

The middle was flat, dusty, and boring — past the Burgos airport. We did not even see any planes.

The final section brought us into Burgos via el
parque fluvial. It was lovely and flat….and too darn long.

We were very happy to arrive at our hotel, rest, and go to a very, very, very nearby bar for a cerveza grande.

el parque fluvial

Day 12 — Atapuerca

The morning was a foggy swirl of mountain mist and the Boar Hunting Club. We finally got coffee and headed out to taxi over the mountain. Because we wanted more time at the archeological site in Atepuerca, we jumped ahead up the mountain by taxi and saved several walking hours.

We walked from San Juan de Ortega into Atapuerca, a world heritage site. We dropped our backpacks at our pension, which was not yet open for checkin, and walk almost a mile out to the site. Unfortunately, being Saturday and a national holiday, all the tours were “completo”. Bummer! We walked back to town

We checked in and hated the place. One bath shared with at least four rooms. Electrical wires hanging out of the walls. Sloshy beds. And a cost that was higher than much nicer places we had stayed.

I went hunting and found good accommodations at an albergue with some small private rooms. We swallowed the non- refundable reservation and moved happily across the street. Spent the rest of the day on art and chatting with other pilgrims at a Paneria with a lovely gazebo.

In the evening, we had a picnic of cheese, bread, olives, and meats in the common area of the casa where our rooms were. A couple from Australia and two young American women who met as high schoolers in Hong Kong, joined us.

Later, we slept well!

the church in San Juan de Ortega had lovely light coming in the windows when we arrived about 9:00
fall colors in the oaks of the Montes de Oca
the Oca forest
the princess pine grows like a fairy ring around the trees
look what we found as we transitioned out of the oak forest!
pretty entrance to the town just prior to Atapuerca
it was really hot on the walk out to the archeological site and back. I made myself a sun bonnet from my extra shirt LOL
after we chucked the crummy room and moved to the nice one, we celebrated with wine and art

Day 11 — Villafranca in the Montes de Oca

We started the morning, very briefly, along the road again. The truckers redeemed themselves for sweeping away our energy yesterday. Today they honked, waved, and gave us a thumbs up to encourage us onward. Yay, Truckers.

The trail soon moved away from the road. The vistas were expansive. The villages were welcoming. We completed our 7+ miles by 1:00, washed clothes and hung them. Spent the rest of the afternoon painting and blogging.

Pam and James’ blog is

Seen as we walked out of Belorado this morning
leaving Belorado
Continue reading “Day 11 — Villafranca in the Montes de Oca”