Europe 2017 – The Camino de Santiago – Part Seven

October 6 – 9, Burgos to Sahagun

We arrived just before noon at the Burgos bus station and walked the short distance to the municipal albergue we’d be using for our lodging. It didn’t open until 1pm and so we ordered a coffee from the handy bar across the street and talked for a bit with Tim, exchanging the kind of get to know each other information we’d become quite good at. In business, this is called the elevator speech, that is you need to sell your product in the time it takes for the elevator ride.

That Cool Bar Across the Street

Right on time the albergue opened and we registered, found our beds in the two bunk pod, stashed stuff in the adjacent lockers and met Tim downstairs to walk over to the Mundi Camino office, fifteen minutes away. We introduced ourselves to Oscar and I quickly explained that plans had changed and not only would Joanna be joining me but that Tim also needed bike. And so, about 30 minutes later the deal was done and at a good price, 15 euros a day for each bike, 20 euros for each bike to be picked up at the end of our adventure, a helmet apiece, one set of panniers for 20 euros, and a spare tube, pump and tire levers to round out the rental.

Oscar at Mundi Camino

We were to return at 6pm to pick up the bikes so we walked back towards the albergue and stopped in at a cool wine and tapas bar where Joanna and I had a beer apiece and split a nice ham and veggie tapas and a great salmon tartar with guacamole. Once finished Tim went his own way and Joanna and I walked over to the Burgos Cathedral, just down the street from the albergue, to take the audio tour.

Burgos Cathedral

This is a repeat of the tour we took back in 2014 of this magnificent edifice and yet we weren’t bored in the least. Consecrated in 1260 and modified substantially over the ensuing centuries, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on October 31, 1984. It is the only Spanish cathedral that has this distinction independently, without being joined to the historic center of a city (as in Salamanca, Santiago de Compostela, Ávila, Córdoba, Toledo, Alcalá de Henares or Cuenca) or in union with other buildings, as in Seville.

The Golden Stairs

We finished our tour and with time to spare made our way back over to Mundi Camino to pick up the bikes. We were presented with a matched pair of Spanish made Minali mountain bikes with disc brakes and a triple chain ring set up, plenty of gears and stopping power for our needs. The pannier set looked to be quite complete with two large saddle bags and a sizable zip off day pack that sat on top of the rear rack.

Joanna, Tim and I With Our Bikes

Satisfied with our setup, we bade Oscar a Buen Camino and rode back to the albergue, locking the bikes on the first floor and repairing to our beds to relax a bit before venturing out for food. Later, as we went on our search, we ran into Sally and Elliot, the two ladies from Portland who we’d been shadowing for a week or more. We all decided to go to the same place for a pilgrim meal at 14 euros apiece, Las Espuelas del Cid which had a nice looking menu.

That Bottle of Wine

This was a good meal, nicely prepared and tasty and yet at 14 euros, we were expecting a bit better. Also, instead of one bottle of wine for two people we had to split it among four. Joanna had asparagus and I the carbonara for our first, she the sea bass and I the beef tail for our second. As we would soon lose contact with the girls, it was nice to spend some quality time with them at the dinner table. Just another one of those Camino moments, friendships quickly made and dissolved.

Asparagus and Beef Tails

We arose the next morning, loaded up the panniers with full bags worth of stuff (roughly 30-40 pounds) shipping the other bag down the road, and then crossed the street to the bar/café (whose name I’ve forgotten and for the life of me can’t find anywhere on the net) for a nice filling 4 euro breakfast. And then we took off, our first full day of riding the Camino, our destination that day Castrojeriz.

My Loaded Bike with Panniers

We’d rented the bikes for eight days with the original intention of riding 50 kilometers a day (31 miles) to Sarria and then walking the last 100 K to Santiago. Our good weather karma continued to follow us, mornings slightly cold but days warming up nicely with plentiful blue skies. Our ride that day would take us through some pretty long stretches of deserted country side and to prove that not all luck is good, about halfway through the ride my rear tire flatted.

Out In Nowhere

Let me reiterate, we were out in the middle of nowhere. We pulled off the tire and got the tube out and then took out the pump to put some air in the bad tube to try to see if we could locate the hole (this is important as the cause may still be stuck in the tire). As soon as we started to use the pump it came apart in our hands.

Joanna Before the Flat

This. Was. Not. Good. A few brief moments of desperation set in, visions of our dried and dusty skeletons found years from now on the Spanish plains. But, St. James was watching out for us and it was a Saturday and thus many recreational riders were out on the course. We flagged down a group and long story short, they had a pump and soon we were on our way. But now, we had no pump and no spare tube.

Monastery Ruins on the Way to Castrojeriz

We arrived later trouble free in Castrojeritz, our destination for the night, and located our lodging, Albergue Ultreia where we were greeted warmly by the owner. Glad to be there without any further mishap, we walked up to a market and secured a couple of beers to tide us over in the afternoon and just generally relaxed as one will after a full and adventurous dayDinner that Night.

Dinner that night in-house was a delight, a pasta salad and delicious roast chicken with plentiful amounts of local wine and Sangria, followed by the highlight, a demonstration of the antique wine press mounted above the dining table and then a tour of the underground first century Roman tunnels that had been converted into the owners personal wine cellar. Although his English was limited, his enthusiasm wasn’t and as we sampled some wine from a jug he had secreted down there we couldn’t help but think that sometimes each day just turns out the way it should.

The Antique Wine Press

Our destination the next stage was Carrion de Los Condes, where we would stay at Hostal Albe for a phenomenal 28 euros a night for a large room, double bed, bathroom and attached kitchenette (which we didn’t use). The entire day of cycling went smoothly except for my flat tire anxiety as we couldn’t resolve the pump or tube issue until the next day in Sahagun, as it was a Sunday and that was where the next bike resource was located.

Morning Out of Castrojeritz, a Very Steep Climb and View from the Summit

We hit a pizza joint for an early afternoon pick me up and after recovering in the early evening walked down to the main square for a nice meal at a place that catered to pilgrims, ordering fried Hake for Joanna and a nicely cooked piece of thin beef steak for me. With three glasses of wine the tab came to 25 euros, well worth the price.

Joanna on the Road, that Beefsteak and a Canal on the Way into Town

Keeping with our 50K cycling routine our next destination was the city of Sahagun and the aforementioned bike shop where I hopefully would find piece of mind with spare tubes and a functioning pump.

The Flat Plains of Spain

We checked into Albergue/Hostal Viatoris, a large combo hotel and dormitory and were shown to our room, two bunk beds all to ourselves and bathroom for 25 euros. We immediately went in search of the bike shop, which turned out to be a establishment for the repair and sale of bikes, motorcycles, lawnmowers and all kinds of machine driven mechanical devices. I secured two new tubes and a good pump for prices far lower than I would have paid in the States, an interesting development we’ve encountered throughout this trek.

Wine and Veggie Stew with Chicken

Indeed for much of what we consume, the prices are much lower than what we would pay at home, even with the exchange rate thrown in. Given how much wine we consume daily, it seems like we’re actually making money as we drink. We returned to Viatoris, killed the rest of the afternoon and then took in dinner there, a pilgrim meal for 11 euros apiece that would be one of the better ones of the trip.

Pork Filets and Broiled Hake

As we sat down we noticed a solo woman sitting at the next table and asked her to join us. She was an Austrian, traveling the Camino for a week away from her family and our conversation that night ranged far and wide, from family to politics to life in general. On the food side, I had a vegetable stew first course that was incredibly good and Joanna’s fresh grilled Hake made all of her previous visits to this fish preparation seem stale in comparison.

Our Room in Carrion and a Sunrise as we Set Out

We’d survived three days on the bikes, two without the confidence that spare equipment brings. As one would expect, we’d ride the entire rest of the Camino and not again experience a flat tire. So maybe St. James was just testing our resolve. Who can really say as we had many more challenging days ahead to determine if that was the case.

For All of You Fans of DeMolay


Mundi Camino:

Burgos Cathedral:

Minali Bikes:

Las Espuelas del Cid:

Albergue Ultreia: Albergue Ultreia

Hostal Albe:

Albergue/Hostal Viatoris:

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