From Burgos to San Anton

Day 13, Thursday 5 September 2013

Distance to Santiago:  510,3 km

We have to wait until 10:30 for the bicycle shop to open. We struggled to get used to the Spanish way of life.  The shops opened at the earliest at 09:00, were closed between 13:00 and 16:00, but stay open until late at night.  After fixing the bicycles and buying a padded seat cover for my bike, we were on the way. Our luggage was in pannier carry bags, one attached on each side of the carrier and it worked well.
We planned to cycle for the day from Burgos to Formista, 69,5 km.  We left Burgos late, at 11:00, confident that our bicycles are correctly assembled for the trip.

Burgos is a big city, architectural jewel and full of monuments worthy of exploration. We enjoyed exploring Burgos and were impressed with the Spanish people, their culture and traditions.

Sheep farmer on the way to Hornillos

The Meseta is the central Spanish tableland, which intersects the Camino Frances between Burgos and Astorga.  On the meseta, I saw many kilometres of similar landscape, and that was the charm of it.  It is a part of Spain known among pilgrims for its wide skies, dry heat and flat lands, all of which mess with perceptions of time and distance. I was always amazed by the vast open fields and the peaceful, tranquil feeling it created.

Gravel road to Hornillos

I was careful not to go too fast downhill because of the gravel road and being inexperienced with cycling. We reached Hornillos after 3,5 hours and 21 km. The next village is San Bol and then Hontanas.

Ermita de Santa Brigida Hontanas

Two km before Castrojeriz are the ruins of an old monastery and hospital de peregrinos – San Antón.  The remaining buildings date primarily from the 14th and 15th centuries.  Although the building is mostly ruins, part of it is restored and functions as an albergue.

San Anton old monastery and hospital de peregrinos

The most impressive remnant of the original monastery is the archway spanning the Camino. Ancient pilgrims who arrived too late to gain access to the hospital, shelter under the archway for the night and monks would leave food in the niches that line the walls. Today pilgrims often leave notes here.

A storm was building and we still had to do more than 25 km to reach Fromista, our goal for the day.  We lost at least 3 hours by starting late from Burgos.
Being forced by the threatening storm to retire without reaching our goal was a blessing in disguise.  This decision resulted in an amazing experience. We had to sleep in Albergue San Anton, which operated on donations. It’s a private hostel that can only take 14 people. It was sited amongst the ruins of the ancient Convento de San Anton built in the 14th century.
There were only basic facilities, no electricity, where we later had a meal made by the hostess, traditional local garlic soup with bread, salad, pasta, red wine. Sleeping in the ruins of an ancient monastery, sharing a communal meal and being entertained by the host, singing traditional Spanish songs while playing the guitar, contributed to a unique experience.

We cycled only 39,2 km.