Peter and Sandra, my neighbours on the campsite in Burgos, provided me with a nice cup of coffee this morning. The discussion we had continued from where it had left off the previous evening. Interestingly they had been to Nordkapp (I’m somewhat alarmed by the number of people who have; there I was thinking it was a remote, adventurous place to visit…) and they got there by taking the Hurti Gruten ships that ply their trade between the ports of Northern Norway. A ‘cruise’ from Bergen in the south to Nordkapp and back had cost them £800 each. So for me to travel one way – probably not as far as Bergen – would presumably be significantly less. If anyone has any more details from personal experience, I’d be interested in finding them out. That said, the website is probably the definitive place for answers.
Chatting with Peter and Linda didn’t delay my departure from Burgos – if anything I delayed them – but my decision to pay the local Decathlon store did. I needed; a replacement inner tube for the one I used last week, a plastic fork and spoon (that I forgot to bring with me), a spare gas cylinder for cooking (I have no idea when the one I have will run out), a new bottle cage tool box (as the one I had was rattling and I was willing to pay €3 for a replacement: the price of silence!) and some straight tent pegs. I didn’t get the pegs in the end as they were steel and heavy. That said, after erecting the tent tonight on hard ground, I’m getting to the point where I don’t care how heavy they are; if they don’t bend, I’ll buy them and the next time I’m passing Decathlon I’ll do just that. I returned to the centre of Burgos for a midday departure to the east.
In terms of the cycling, today sits firmly between cycling day 13 (not good) and cycling day 14 (very good indeed). It was simply good. I stuck to the main N-120 road for most of the day. I wouldn’t describe it as busy but much of the traffic was articulated trucks which never make for carefree cycling, especially when they decide to overtake each other travelling in the opposite direction on a single carriageway road. Had the traffic been constant I would have been tempted to find an alternative route but it wasn’t so I contined regardless.
That said, the only alternative route would have been the Camino de Santiago itself which for about 80% of the day ran parallel to the road. For a few short stretches I did use it but although not a bad track upon which to cycle, the temptations of a Tarmac road only a few metres away are too much to overcome. I suppose the walkers (and some cyclists) that I passed were still asking themselves the question ‘why is he not going in the right direction?’ but only one elderly local man made an attempt to ‘correct’ me. I ignored him, smiled and cycled on. I’m getting the impression that the the walkers, or rather most of them, get up early and try to get to their destination as soon as they can. I suppose this is to guarantee their beds in the next albergue. I understand this but… Don’t most people attempt the Camino to give themselves time to think (“for spiritual reasons“). Walking with others probably hinders this somewhat so I admire the walkers who are still at it late in the day, on their own, thinking. Well, that’s what I imagine they are doing. They could be sick of the sight of their friends of course… The few cyclists that I crossed included one guy from Japan who was riding a folding bike and had a GoPro camera clamped to the front of his helmet. He seemed intent on not turning his head. Was he recording the whole thing? At least you only have to suffer snippets of GoPro footage from me. His female friend followed in his wake, about 500 metres behind him, well out of view of the wide angle lens.
The 1:150,000 Camino de Santiago Michelin map that I’m using is great. I’m managing to cycle three pages a day and will be invaluable over the coming few days. It guided me to Santo Domingo de la Calzada without problem where I spent half an hour or so pondering the accommodation options. I would like to experience a Parrador – state run luxury hotels – before I leave Spain (and time is running out) and the one in Santo Domingo was ‘only’ €65. I was tempted. The thing that stopped me was my wet tent. It didn’t rain last night but there was a lot of dew and was wrapped up damp. I found the campsite on the other end of the town near the main road. It’s full of static caravans; all but a handful are empty. I’m the only person with a tent let alone a bicycle… Peter – my neighbour in Burgos – warned me off the place but its location was perfect. He didn’t like it as it was very noisy with kids screaming until the early hours. Tonight the only thing I can hear is the traffic on the road. That said, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend an entire holiday here. It takes all sorts… See you tomorrow.
P.S. I’m now in the region of Rioja and the landscape is gradually becoming more and more mountainous. I’m looking forward to the Pyrenees!