Bus after bus after bus…
It seems the wine did help last night – “holy” bed and all I managed to sleep most of it.
For breakfast we have a quick toast with jam and set off for the bus station in the dark. We have no idea what time the bus leaves or even whether there is a bus on a Saturday. As it turns out 7:30 am is far too early and we head to a coffee shop nearby while we wait for the bus station to open.
There is a bus, but only goes as far as Logrono. From Logrono we will have to get on another bus to Burgos and so on. We book for Logrono and wait. The trip itself is uneventful and the bus is mostly filled with fellow pilgrims. Some with bad ankle or other injuries and I realize how lucky we are being injury and blister free so far.
We get to Logrono and go inside for more coffee and something light to eat. The place is very dirty and the whole floor is strewn with papers, used napkins and empty wrappers. Also no one clears or wipes the tables. I am told this is standard practice but in South Africa this is totally unacceptable. Luckily we only have about an hour before our bus to Burgos.
We reach Burgos about lunchtime and immediately book the next part of the journey to Leon. Unfortunately there is a three hour wait. I feel a little despondent but as soon as we walk out the station and I see the top of the cathedral it turns into pure joy. There is a river running through a beautiful park with huge trees and green grass. Even the entrance portal to the Cathedral is incredibly impressive and I am in total awe. Building on the Cathedral of St Mary of Burgos started in 1221 and it is not difficult to see why it is a world heritage site. It is absolutely mind-boggling!
There are two wedding ceremonies going at the same time and we walk around just in time to see the couples come out to the sound of crackers, loud cheering and flower petals. We study the Cathedral from all sides and eventually settle in for lunch in its magnificent shadow on Plaza del Rey San Fernando. I cannot think of anything that goes better with a glass of crisp white wine and a toasted sandwich. The craftsmanship is so incredible and it must have been done with such meticulous care. Definitely tops on my list of cathedrals so far!
Three hours passes far too quickly and soon we’re on our way to Leon. Our bus driver is somewhat of a character and needs some instruction on how to operate the gearbox and other controls. Not far into the trip he almost takes out a road sign and soon has to stop to pick up the right mirror which he smashed against another road sign. Needless to say we are extremely grateful to arrive in Leon in one piece.
I first walk to the machine and buy our bus tickets for the next morning. We still need to get further down the route if we want to make it to Santiago and hopefully will be walking again by mid-morning.
By now it is 20:30 in the evening and we have nowhere to sleep yet. I look over and see two women with backpacks and walk straight over for a chat. This mother-daughter team is from California and yes, they are walking the Camino. They have a hotel booked for the night and does not mind sharing their taxi with us. The idea is that if we can get into town close to the Camino route, we might find something that is within our price range.
Their hotel is right in the centre of what also looks like the older part of Leon and close to the Camino route. We literally walk only two blocks before we come across heaven in the form of Hostal Guzman. Although somewhat more pricey than the Albergues (€27 per person), he has me with hook, line and sinker at “own shower” and “last room available“. After a few nights in Albergues and not too much sleep, I am more than ready for some comfort tonight!
We book in, wash off the road and head into town. It is Saturday night and extremely busy and lively. There is not a street café or restaurant that is not bursting at the seams. We walk around for quite some time before finding place to sit outside and the food looks promising. The evening’s entertainment is provided by a bachelor party across the road from us.
“Reading the fine print” will from now on also apply to menu’s. The food was great, but the unexpected 20% surcharge for sitting on the “verandah” leaves a slightly bitter taste. (Maybe for Europeans this is normal practice?)
It is almost midnight before we head back to Hostal Guzman and the streets are still bustling. It seems that here the party goes all night long!