After 9 days of walking, we made it to Burgos which is one of the bigger cities along the Camino. So big that there's even a McDonald's, Papa John's and Dominos here. While the little family-run hotels have been pleasant along the way, it was so nice to check into a Marriott last night. I showered with hair conditioner and used a blow dryer for the first time in days - my new standard of luxury.
A quick recap of the first week? PAINFUL. Days 3 and 4 were the worst for me. My legs were sore from the tops of my thighs down to my ankles. By evening, I could barely walk. My biggest problem was with my feet - halfway through walking, they felt on fire. The pain reminded me of when I would work retail on concrete floors in heels for 8 hours. No amount of massaging could get them back to feeling normal. That said, I've been very lucky as I haven't had any blisters. I can't say the same for Graham :(
Prior to starting the Camino, my biggest anxiety was mental. How could I wake up every morning knowing that I would have to walk for hours again? And tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Surprisingly, even with the pain, I was excited to get up and get moving each morning. It was in the afternoon, when I only had 1-2 hours left of the walk, that was mentally and physically the most challenging. The end of each day was so near (along with a hot shower and dinner), but so far away.
By day 7, my body started to adapt and, while I was still sore and my feet still hurt by the end of the day, it got a lot easier. Here are some of the things we've seen along our walk, although it is out of sequence:
The shell symbol (here on its side) is the visual cue peregrinos look for. This shell, along with yellow arrows, guide us in the right direction of the Camino.
In Villaval, I walked past this older couple's private home only to get a whiff of something delicious. I look over and they are grilling these enormous red peppers right in their front lawn. My broken Spanish got me far enough where they let me on their property so I could take pictures. Very sweet couple.
In Navarette, we came upon an old cathedral. From the outside, it didn't seem like much. However, inside is one of the most dramatic alters I've ever seen.
Walking from region to region across Northern Spain allows you to see the landscape visibly change. We had gone from wheat fields to vineyards to forests. Given that it is October, it is harvesting time in La Rioja, a major province contributing to Spain's wine industry. There were many men and women picking grapes and one man even gave us a bunch to eat as we walked.
Coming from Atapuerca to Burgos, there are many steep hills to climb. After reaching the highest summit, we found this sign which translates to: "Since the pilgrims in Burguete climbed the mountains of Navarra and saw the fields of Spain, they had not seen a more beautiful view than this."