October 21 – 23, Burgos
The train trip to Burgos was relatively short at two hours and after arriving we took a taxi for 9 euros to the Hotel Cordon, located right in the heart of historic part of town. Much like La Salle in Santiago, this was a very nice property yet still only running us about $75 a night. We unpacked our gear and then headed out to do some walking around.
We thought about trying to get over to the offices of Mundi Camino to say hi to Oscar but missed our window, so instead stopped by Las Cantina, the wine and tapas bar we’d enjoyed during our first stay. Of course, we just had to order that Tartar de Salmon con guacamole and a glass apiece of Spanish Cava. It was just as good as we had remembered, not always the case when something strikes you right the first time you try it.
Snacking accomplished, we walked towards the Cathedral and then started climbing San Miguel hill behind it to reach the summit and the Burgos Castle. Not much of the castle remains as it was destroyed by the French after their occupation of it ended in 1813, but the view of the city was magnificent. We continued to be lucky with the weather, moderate temperatures during the day and generally sunny skies.
Having seen the cathedral during our first pass through town and with plans for a full day the next, we returned to our room with a cold bottle of Cava in hand and passed a relaxing afternoon, reading and working on the blog. For dinner that night we went to a St. Steve’s recommendation just off the Cathedral Square, Restaurante Ricon de Espana where Joanna and I split a insalada mista and an order of their specialty, the wood oven roasted suckling pig.
It was a nice meal, tender pork falling off the bone with a crispy skin covering, potatoes in the iron pot soaking up the juice from the meat. We returned to the room to relax and enjoy being in one place for more than one night, unlike our many days on the Camino.
We arose Sunday morning and after a cafe con leche apiece and potato tortilla at the café around the corner from the hotel, crossed the river to head to the Museo de Evolucion de la Humana (Human Evolution). We ran into a crazy scene though as the city was hosting a 5K/10K run that morning and so we stopped for a few moments to catch a bit of the excitement as the runners gathered together for the start. As odd as this may sound, it was as if we were home witnessing the same type of event and for a brief moment I had to look around to reassure myself I was still in Burgos.
With the runners off we headed up to the Museo and spent a fascinating few hours there, hitting every exhibit as we worked our way through the history of human evolution. We started downstairs on Level -1, conceived as the heart of the museum. It recounts the archaeological and paleontological complex of sites at Sierra de Atapuerca near Burgos and one of the richest finds of its type in the world
Level 0 is dedicated to Charles Darwin’s theories and the history of human evolution with 10 realistic reproductions of our human ancestors, made by French sculptor Elisabeth Daynes, ranging from Australopithecus afarensis all the way to Homo neanderthalensis. Finally, Level 1 answers, from a functional standpoint, why we are so similar to the hunter-gatherer of 9,000 years ago, and yet so different.
We left the museo dazed but happy and proceeded to spend a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon relaxing, eating and drinking. Our first stop was a Valor we’d spotted near the Cathedral, where we split a sandwich and chocolate covered waffle along with a café con leche.
Finished we walked over to that café/bar, Café Babia, across the street from the albergue we’d stayed in the first time through and enjoyed a beer.
Just outside of the joint we had a conversation with a fellow American who was walking the Camino. It turned out he and his wife and kids had recently sold a business and with the proceeds moved to Montpellier. We chatted about that city and the coincidence of running into each other here in Burgos and then we moved on to our last stop of the day, La Cantina.
What an afternoon. We had some amazingly good tapas, one being six bite sized scallops broiled in their shell in butter, another being a paper thin strip of filet (carpaccio de chuleta) that the waiter prepared at our table with some salt and spices, then rolled into a ball for us to consume.
Also tasty was a skewer of chunks of filet (bruchetta de solomillo con pimiento) with bell pepper strips for additional flavor. Joanna had ordered a glass of cava and as it was getting warm, the gentleman at the table next to us, who we would come to know as Oscar, motioned to her to put the glass in the ice bucket next to him, stating that the drink had to be consumed cold.
Thus, would begin an hour or two of conversation with he and his girlfriend as I helped him finish off his bottle of white wine, and a couple of gin and tonics he ordered for us all. His English was not so good but with my rudimentary Spanish, we somehow all managed to communicate OK, particularly interpreting some of the gestures he would make when referring to carnal relations between man and wife.
Honestly, I think we’d still be there today drinking more gin and tonics if he would have had his way but with a day of travel ahead of us and feeling a bit woozy from an afternoon of boozing, we tore ourselves away and returned to the room to collapse and prepare for our journey to Bilbao the next day. Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up.
Hotel Cordon: http://www.hotelcordon.com/es/burgos/
Las Cantina: http://www.lacantinaburgos.com/
Castle of Burgos: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_of_Burgos
Ricon de Espana: http://rincondeespana.com/home-en.html
Evolution Museum: http://www.museoevolucionhumana.com/en/
Sierra de Atapuerca: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atapuerca_Mountains