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Camino Frances part 2 - from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela - In the mountains of dreams
camino frances meseta
Camino de Santiago,  Europe,  Spain

Camino Frances part 2 – from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela

Camino Frances is the most popular and famous trail of the Camino de Santiago. I went on a pilgrimage at the turn of August and September 2021. I wrote about the initial stage of Camino Frances from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Burgos and the journey to Camino Frances from Poland in my previous post here. After a few months from Camino, after rest and integration of what happened on the trail, I come back with a description of the rest of the trail: the road from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela. After two weeks on the trail, I move on, about 510 kilometers to my destination.

Burgos – León – a path through the Meseta Desert

On Camino it is said that pilgrims fall into two groups: those who love Meseta and those for whom it is a nuisance. It is a word that is formidable to many pilgrims. When we talk about Meseta, the experiences that follow can only be understood by those who have followed this path. And this is how I met some of the people who, for example, despite a shorter vacation, especially start their journey in Burgos to go through Meseta. To feel this space, emptiness. This is a real pilgrim test. On the other hand, some people (e.g. who have already gone through this episode) start right away in León so as not to have to experience it again.

The distance from Burgos to Leon is approximately 205 kilometers. After leaving Burgos, the route becomes very flat and monotonous. For the next few days you will not see any greenery, only yellow cultivated fields and sun-scorched land. Fortunately, sometimes there are sections where trees were planted on the south side of the road a few years ago, giving the pilgrims shade. And so at the beginning of September, after 10.00, the route was getting unbearably hot. In summer, it is said that many people march at night or just before dawn, admiring the incredibly starry sky. Here I also heard one of the legends about the creation of the Camino: even before the pilgrimage, people headed west following the Milky Way to Campo de las Estrellas (field of stars), from which the name Compostella was born.

Normally, it takes about 7-8 days to defeat Meseta. I combined a few episodes and I got to León in 7 days. Halfway down the Camino Frances is the city of Sahagún where the route joins Camino Madrid.

Castrojeriz

The first major town after Burgos is Castrojeriz. A few kilometers ahead of him are the ruins of an old monastery. It is worth stopping there and contemplating 🙂 For those willing, sometimes it is possible to stay there overnight, but without the luxuries of hot water.

Right next to Castrojeriz there is a hill with the ruins of the castle. You can climb there and admire the town and the beautiful spaces of Meseta.

Castrojeriz is one of those towns whose houses were built along one street. Therefore, the passage of the town itself will take a long time. There used to be an underground street under the main street – a network of cellar connections where wine was stored. Today it is possible to visit such a cellar, e.g. in Albergue Ultreia where I had the pleasure of sleeping, in the evening a short trip with wine tasting is organized 🙂

On the main street of Castrojeriz there is also the beautiful house Espacio Interior. The owner organizes morning and evening meditations, and sells her paintings and products. A beautiful place, full of peace and wonderful energy. I highly recommend visiting for more than 5 minutes 🙂

 From Carrión de los Condes, or 17 kilometers without civilization

The 17 km long section from Carrión de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza seems to be the biggest challenge. There is no village or even a water source on the way. I went through this episode in the afternoon, so the heat made itself felt. For this episode, you need to stock up on food and drink, fortunately the town of Carrion de los Condes is quite large and we will definitely be able to stock up on it.

León

León, or the city of lions, is another large city after Burgos found on the route. However, it did not take its name from a lion, but most likely from the Roman word legion, which over time turned into León. For me, it was the place of a 2-day rest stop due to a foot injury. There are many attractions (such as the Cathedral, St. Isidro’s Basilica, Plaza Mayor) and, as in the city, you can get things done. I went to a physiotherapist there, sent excess luggage to Santiago or bought a SIM card. Additionally, I used the time to explore the city on one of the walking tours.

León is known for its tapas – we get a small snack with every coffee, beer or wine. The city has a lot of bars and cafes where we can try local delicacies. I am glad that despite the injury, I used the time to rest and get to know León.

León – Astorga – O Cebreiro, or the last days in the region of Castile and León

After two days of rest and leaving León, I meet only new faces on the route again. Most of my friends are already far ahead, and because of an injury, I am now walking slowly, trying not to exceed 25 kilometers a day (which is not always feasible;)). After leaving León, we have two options: the historic road (camino histórico) or through the Villar de Mazarife. Both options come together only at Hospital de Órbigo, 16.5 kilometers before Astorga. The first camino histórico option is divided into two similar sections (24.6 km and 23.7 km), but a large part of it runs along the national road. The second option via Villar de Mazarife is in total 4.2 kilometers longer, and its sections are less proportionally divided (21.1 km and 31.4 km). However, it is set back from the busy street. I choose the camino histórico option.

Astorga

The next larger city on the route is Astorga. It is a very touristic town, among other things because of the Gaudi Palace, which looks like a Disney castle. Astorga is situated on a beautiful hill overlooking the surrounding area and also from which you can watch beautiful sunsets. Most pilgrims stop at the city’s Albergue, which was once a pilgrimage shelter a thousand years ago.

The next larger city on the route is Astorga. It is a very touristic town, among other things because of the Gaudi Palace, which looks like a Disney castle. Astorga is situated on a beautiful hill overlooking the surrounding area and also from which you can watch beautiful sunsets. Most pilgrims stop at the city’s Albergue, which was once a pilgrimage shelter a thousand years ago.         

Galicia

O Cebreiro

O Cebreiro is located right on the border of the autonomous regions of Castile and Leon with Galicia. It is a stone, picturesque town located at the top of another hill. It is located at an altitude of 1300m above sea level. I am lucky that on the way up the hill it starts to rain very hard and I reach the top completely soaked. You can’t see beautiful views of the valley either.

In O Cebreiro there is a small church where Don Elias Valiña Sampedro is buried. He is the originator of the Camino de Santiago marking with yellow arrows. In the 1980s, on a foggy day, he met a lost pilgrim. He started talking to him, and that’s how the idea of marking the trail was born. With his idea, he went to the local authorities, which had yellow paint for street painting. The priest accepted the paint and marked the trail in the area. This is how the classic yellow arrows were born.

 Sarria, the last 100 kilometers

To get Compostela (Camino de Santiago certificate) you must walk at least the last 100 kilometers. For this reason, soooo many people start their journey in Sarri, which is located 100 km from Santiago. There have been many more pilgrims on the trail for the last few days, but it is only in Sarri that it starts to get really crowded. You can immediately see who is just starting the pilgrimage, and who has several hundred kilometers behind them, waiting for its end. This is the least enjoyable part of the hike in my opinion. On the one hand, with each step, you can feel the end of this month-long journey, on the other, there is no space for contemplation or a lonely journey. The trail here resembles “entering Morskie Oko”. There are tourists on all sides, it is noisy, there are a lot of souvenir shops. Bars are overcrowded. All that’s left is to smile and move forward. This is also part of the Camino 🙂

Santiago de Compostela

I reach Santiago de Compostela on the 33rd day of hiking. This day was predetermined, as my mother and aunt were simultaneously following the Camino Portugues de la Costa route and we were to meet in Santiago. Entering Santiago is accompanied by a spectrum of emotions. On the one hand, I am happy with the achievements, with these experiences, on the other, I am sad that this is the end and I know that I will miss it soon, I am praying for it at dawn and setting off into the unknown.

Camino Frances was quite difficult for me. A lot of distance, injury and effort were interwoven with meetings with amazing people and deep conversations. People are the greatest resource and support on the road. I am very grateful for the opportunity to do this route. Too many adventures, coincidences and the appearance of Camino in my life. Buen Camino!

Camino Frances plan: Burgos – Santiago de Compostela

Below is my Camino Frances itinerary (previous part from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in this post).

For more posts about the Camino de Santiago, follow this link, including a general post on How to Prepare for the Camino.

 

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Hi! My name is Zuzanna, I am from Poland. I love traveling, hiking and doing yoga. Spain is my favorite destination, I walked several Camino de Santiago roads there. I created this blog to share my travel experiences.

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