A cathedral to take your breath away…

I started out early this morning with a light breakfast (McDo doesn´t do ¨typical breakfast¨  here but CAFE with pastries and neat coffees. I couldn´t consider a burger for breakfast. I walked around la Plaza Mayor.

I took the metro to the train station (with a connection, no less!) and a great 2.5 hour bus ride by bus. I arrived in Burgos at 4 and all the albergues were full even the 110 bed one! I managed to find a pension room for 20 Euros. NOTE to self  – even if this is mid May, there are many pelegrinos around this town!

I visited the Burgos Cathedral… What an incredible museum – although it is still used as a church, most of the art work, statues, doors etc are original. It is HUGE, and incredibly ornate. There is so much gold and marble, not to mention the unbelievable woodwork. I spent more than 2 hours just walking around and admiring every alcove, section and areas where many are a resting place for Bishops, kings and others.

I have to admit at first I felt rather overwhelmed at the size of the cathedral. However, I managed to find some really great little areas that seemed a bit more intimate. It felt very familiar yet at the same time quite different than what I had ever seen. The shere works of art, be it of the stained glass, the marble statues, the wooden pews, the incredible ceilings, were of such beauty.

In certain areas you can smell the history… strange to say, but churches have this ¨smell¨ that is hard to explain. As well, many of the wooden pews have worn spots where people over the centuries have sat down to pray.  the many handrails are smooth as silk from millions of hands touching them and the stairs are worn down to the bottom of some of the steps.

The outside is just as impressive as inside and I am very excited to now visit the cathedral in Compostela which is apparently even bigger and more extensive in terms of statues and relics.

It´s 8 pm and restaurants and stores are finally open for business. I did stock up on cheese, chorizo and cured ham for tomorrow´s lunch. I´m planning an early start to get a bed this time!

It´s finally hit me that this is the REAL thing! I am on the road to Santiago!!! Dreams do come true!  Hasta luego!

A culture of night owls

Last night, to adjust to the time difference I decided to try to stay awake as long as I could despite my few hours of sleep on the plane.

By 8:30 PM I couldn’t stay awake so I settled into my little hostel room for the night. I had a dream that I was at a gathering of free flowing laughter and wine and woke up to the sounds coming from the restaurant across the street. I glanced at the clock on the bedside table and was surprised to see it was close to midnight.

I was reminded of my 9 weeks in Buenos Aires when friends often extended the hospitality of a great dinner held typically around mid evening. As a morning person I never did get used to the shift in work and eating times despite my best efforts.

I often wondered how it was that north Americans whose ancestors often came from Europe didn’t keep to those hours. If we adapted to the sun up, sun down for farming reasons, Europeans had the same daylight timeframes yet dinners at night time are still the norm here.

I recognize the advent of the siesta time to avoid working in the high heat of the day likely had something to do with it, but we are but a few degrees more north from a good part of Europe. I know this because of my geocaching experience!

So as I listened to joyful sounds of chatter, clinging wine glasses and laughter I wondered how well I would adapt to the change. By default with the typical albergue “lights out by 10 PM” this would preclude very late dinners. The constant daily walking would also account for early bedtimes.

I will soon find out as I head to Burgos today to my first albergue night and the start of my walking journey tomorrow. I am very excited to start and if it requires me to become more of a night owl, I hope that I will adapt!
Hasta luego!