October 4- 6, Santo Domingo to Burgos
We walked just outside of the historic center of town and located Pension Miguel, heading up a flight of stairs to be greeted by a very enthusiastic proprietor who spoke Spanish only at a mile a minute but curiously, maybe because of the time we’ve spent here, I could understand maybe a third of it.
We’d booked what was available, in this case a triple room (thee single beds) with a shared bath for 32 euros, a deal as it was a spacious room in order to accommodate that number of beds. Still a bit undecided about taking a full rest day that morning, the room convinced us that it would be a good place to do so and I immediately went back on line and reserved the same room for 35 euros.
With a full day to relax and explore ahead of us, we hung around in our room getting caught up on chores and reading, a luxury when you are walking everyday and are tired at the end of each one. Joanna went over to a Eroski supermarket close by and picked us up some beers which helped to make the afternoon an enjoyable one.
The Three Consistent Menus
We wandered out later in the evening in search of food, searching for something other than a pilgrim meal. As good as they have been, one craves a little variation after a while. We strolled up and down the Main Street close to the pension and eventually stopped in at a cafeteria that had some of the standard menus we’ve seen recently. What appears to be a common practice now in the parts of Spain we’ve traveled in is for these smaller establishments to offer one or more of a standard set of menus containing items likely supplied to them by a a firm specializing in these three products: pizza, paella, and pasta.
The Bottle of Crianza
We ordered a bottle of Rioja Crianza, an insulate mista, and a paella veduras (with vegetables). The salad was nice, large enough for two that contained lettuce, tomatoes, onions, tuna, and hard boiled egg. Just before we finished it the paella arrived and it was quite good as well, the best part scraping the toasty bits off the bottom of the cast iron skillet it was served in. Back at the pension we slept well that night two of the beds pushed together so we could be close to each other.
We’d planned on eating breakfast at the little bar downstairs the next morning but when we entered it didn’t appear to be a morning meal kind of place, so we walked over into the historic center towards the main albergue, Tourist Info Office (TI) and laundromat where we planned to get caught up on cleaning almost all of our clothes. We ducked into a bar for two quick coffee con leche’s and some food item, then hit the laundry where we started up the process, stripped down to the last set of clean clothes we had left.
Bad back threatening our Camino and not willing to give up yet, we’d done some research in the room about renting bikes, but most of the options seemed to complicated, involving having the bikes shipped to a destination. When we went down to the TI to inquire about bikes and the bus schedule to Burgos, I noticed a poster on a bulletin board for a company named Mundi Camino with a Burgos address. A faint bit of hope sprung for these two pilgrims.
We finished up the laundry, a mundane task and yet when traveling one that is a thing of joy, washing machine cleaned and dried clothing (hand washing the bane of every pilgrim) received like a gift. On the way back to the room we stopped in at Pasteleria close to the pension and sampled some heavenly treats along with a couple of coffees, particularly good the Naranja Confitada, slices of sugar dried oranges dipped in a dark chocolate. So good we’d be back for more. We returned to the room and did some more bike research and then called MundiCamino. Oscar answered the phone and long story short, I agreed to rent a bike for some number of days to be picked up the next day in Burgos.
That settled and with an open afternoon we walked back into the historic center to tour the town’s main attraction, the Cathedral de Santo Domingo de Calzada. Construction began in 1158 with ongoing changes and additions occurring into the 1700’s. It contains the mausoleum of Santo Domingo and most interesting, is the home of live chickens. According to legend:
A German Pilgrim called Hugonell was walking to Santiago with his parents, when they decided to rest at an inn in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The owner of the inn’s daughter immediately fell in love with him; however her feelings were not reciprocated, so the girl, angered, placed a silver cup into his luggage and accused the boy of theft. Thieves at that time were punished by hanging, and this was the fate of Hugonell.
His parents, saddened by his death continued the pilgrimage, and upon arriving in Santiago de Compostela, began their return journey to visit the grave of their dead son. When they arrived in Santo Domingo however, they found their son still hanging in the gallows but, miraculously alive. Hugonell, excited, said to them: “Santo Domingo brought back me to life, please go to the Mayor’s house and ask him to take me down”.
Quickly, the parents arrived at the Mayor’s house and told him of the miracle. The incredulous Mayor, who was preparing to have dinner with friends, responded: “That boy is as alive as these two roast chickens we are about to eat,” and suddenly, the chickens came to life, sprouted feathers and beaks and began to crow, and so, to this day there is a saying about the town which goes: “Santo Domingo of the Way, where the roosters crow after being roasted.
Chicken Box and Wood from the Gallows
To honor the legend, a hen and a rooster live in a cage, with a piece of wood from the infamous gallows hung bone it. And, is if on cue, the rooster crowed while we were there. Finished with the Cathedral, we walked back over to the Eroski to pick up supplies for a picnic dinner in the room; a bottle of Rioja Reserva, a package of three kinds of meat and one of five kinds of cheese, a cucumber, baguette and yoghurt for breakfast. Dinner was sublime that night, simple yet filling, a good wine to wash it all down with. Later we watched an episode of Downton Abbey, a season of which Joanna had downloaded at François’ and then read a bit before falling asleep.
We enjoyed our in room breakfast (including a coffee drink I’d purchased at the market in the dairy aisle) and at the appropriate time made our way the few blocks to the bus stop, stopping again at the Pasteleria from the day before to load up on sweet goodness before the hour long bus ride to Burgos. During the ride I got to thinking about my plan to rent a bike and just shadow Joanna as she hiked and the more I cogitated, the more it made sense to me for both of us to rent bikes and share that experience together. After explaining my logic to her, Joanna readily agreed and once in Burgos, that is what we would do.
I’d plotted out an itinerary and had the general costs in mind and as we approached the city limits, I hopped up a seat to sit next to a fellow American, Tim, who we had mentioned the bike idea to. He was interested as well and would end up following us over to the rental office once we arrived in town. With a clear path ahead, we enjoyed the rest of the ride into Burgos. We’d be staying at the municipal albergue without a reservation and had the bike business to finish. It would be a busy afternoon.
Pension Miguel: http://pensionmiguel.com/
Mundi Camino: http://www.mundicamino.com/
Catedral de Santo Domingo: http://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/arte/monumentos/rioja_la/catedral_de_santo_domingo_de_la_calzada.html
Bikes an excellent idea, all things considered. Bet you have close to the 100 miles required to get your pilgrim shell in Santiago. You will never forget this experience. Be well and do good.
Love and kisses to the two of you pilgrims.
Frau und Herr Angst