On Saturday, Anne-Claire and I left the relative buzz of Burgos, a city of 170,000 people through a park on the edge of the city. Compared to the grimy eastern entrance to the city – an industrial zone we’d walked through the morning before – the morning quiet of the river promenade transitioning to the wheat and grass fields of the meseta was sublime. Much of the way was flat, and we had a clear goal in mind – to reach the tiny town of Hontanas more than 30 km away, a village Anne-Claire and I had visited with Amable and Michel last summer.
The Burgos cathedral is a true hidden gem in Europe, palacial in scale and ostentatiously ornate beyond all expectations. Outwardly Neogothic, its interior blends its Gothic roots back to the 12th century and the heavy influence of the in-vogue French churchs of the time with Baroque and Rococo ornmantation. While impressive, it does seem that any bishop or patron with enough money could arrange to have a chapel (most of which would be massive churches on their own stateside) built in their honor. A South African friend of ours commented that the term “stinking rich” came from this practice, as selpulchres of old weren’t air tight and the fumes from decomposing bodies would escape into the church.
Beyond the grasp of the city are just wide open fields and big blue skies so vivid they don’t feel real. Every so often, a fallow field blanketed in poppies in full bloom. Though we arrived exhausted from a day of sun and wind exposure, the hike to Hontanas was one of my best days on the Camino.