Monday, 23 July 2012

Lograno to Burgos

Tuesday 5: Logrono to Najera - 19 miles (30km).
I leave the albergue first, but Nathalie catches me up in a little park on the outskirts of Logrono and we walk together through Navaretta and Ventosa. We nearly spend the night in a small beehive hut but continue to Najera. I don't disagree with Natalie's description of the place as a shit-hole, but once across the river the more appealing old town appears and we head to Municipal albergue on the riverbank. Here we meet up with Erin & Cameron, Leia and Johanna.
Erin is a pretty twenty-two year old who has just finished a journalism course and is writing a weekly column for a local catholic newspaper. She is quite amusing despite, or maybe because, she suffers from a hearing impairment, but she copes with it well. Great for the camino, I say, "just turn your hearing-aid off and the snoring goes away". Unfortunately not, as it is only high-pitched sounds that she has difficulty hearing. 
Nathalie, Leia and I have a great tapas meal in the backstreets, it's good to get away from the rest of the pilgrims for a change. I should sleep well but I'm woken by grunts that sound like bonking, surely not. I wonder if Erin heard anything?
Municipal albergue (€10), large cramped ninety-person bunk room with inadequate cold water showers.
Wednesday 6: Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada - 13 miles (21km). The girls are further ahead but I catch up with Nathalie just before Navarette. She's concerned that Leia has her camino passport in her bag without which, I joke, "you may have to sleep in a ditch". They have agreed to meet up at Ventosa but when we arrive there's not much there just a note on the bar door telling us that they have continued on to Santo Domingo de Calzada. Nathalie's not happy, her feet are sore and she wants to stay the night here but we must continue. Eventually we catch up with Leia and check in to the Cisterciense albergue in the little town of Santo Domingo. We meet Dave & Julie again over lunch in the noisy town square and in the evening I cook a Scottish peasant meal, mince & potatoes, which goes down well with Spanish vino tinto. At 9:59pm  two women in black usher us to bed and turn the lights off - we're staying in a nunnery! The girls rebel at being treated like being back at boarding school and decide to "escape" in the early hours to walk in the moonlight towards Belorado. I agree (thinking to myself that they won't wake up).
Cisterciense albergue (€5), rickety old rooms but with a pleasant grassy courtyard, kitchen and dining area. Strict curfew.
Thursday 7: Santo Domingo to Belorado - 14 miles (23km). Leia wakes me at 4:00am, we pack quietly, creep downstairs only to discover that the gates are closed. We're locked in, but the girls' resolve is strong and we scale a 3 metre wall, me astride the top passing the bags over. We are out - but not quite. Bugger, we are in another courtyard with another 3 metre wall to climb. Finally we escape the albergue, we escape the town and promptly get lost in the dark. With luck and good judgement we find the camino again . . . We talk about the last few nights and it enlightens me about the rumpy-pumpy couple in the albergue in Najera. The girls were nearer and more awake . . . a couple were bonking on a top bunk - a small white-haired pilgrim from the bunk below gets up and disappears to the loo tutting and shaking his head - but who were the inconsiderate couple? Couldn't they get a hotel, grab the shower or wait and find a field?
Granon village is asleep when we pass through but we find a comfy breakfast bar, the Estrella, in Redecilla del Camino, great to have a coffee. As is customary, Leia leaves her walking poles outside near some red plastic chairs next to other pilgrim sticks. After breakfast both the expensive poles and the other pilgrims have gone, she's not happy but generously decides that the thief's needs must have been greater than hers.  Nathalie is tired so Leia and I walk ahead for a while and wait for her at Viloria de la Rioja. Leia's a lively twenty-four year old from New York, walker, climber and general outdoor kind of a girl.
Albergue Santiago (€5), run of the mill bunk-bed albergue but with the added bonus of a swimming pool. Cameron and I swim, the girls stay dry.
Friday 8: Belorado to Ages - 17 miles (28km). Walking with the girls today we are on the lookout for Leia's green colapsable walking poles, no joy. Now with Erin & Cameron we check into the municipal albergue in Ages where Leia and the others confront an Italian lady leaving her little option but to claim that she can't understand - the sticks are hers! Leia persists showing her photos of the sticks but the result is the same. It's not until later when Cameron enlists the help of an English speaking Italian guy, telling him that Leia will need to get a police report to make an insurance claim, that the poles are returned to the rightful owner - it's all a misunderstanding. With the international incident resolved we enjoy a great meal at San Rafael restaurant nearby.
Municipal albergue (€7), spaciously spaced bunks with gym equipment between beds (do worn-out pilgrims really need a running machine?).
Saturday 9: Ages to Burgos - 14 miles (22km). Long day with a boring approach through industrial suburbs into the old city of Burgos. I call after Natasha who takes the even more boring road route into the city but we meet up again outside the albergue, she's not happy.
The old quarter of Burgos is pleasant with a huge catherdal and several open squares. In the evening I have a few beers with American Dave and Mike from Whitehaven in a little sports bar, El Adan, in the cathedral square. Mike and I are joined at dinner by an American lady staying in the 4-star hotel opposite. The food in the restaurant is appalling, meatless rib of pork and dried-up trout, but she is all over Mike like a rash - she's met a authentic pilgrim. We take her back to the El Adan to meet some other pilgrims and later I tease Mike - Cumbrian stallion?
Municipal albergue (€5), modern 5-floor building behind original facade, solid banks of 4-bed bunks with side-lights and power points, not enough loos, no blankets or wifi.
Photos of the Camino de Santiago: Lorgano to Burgos. I've now walked 179 miles (288km).

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