Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018
By Sharon Parker
Day 6 28th May
As I Sharon Parker the legendary Rain Queen of the North continues my tour of Spain the skies turn grey, the rain cometh and the temperature drops to a good old northern 13 degrees Celsius.
With my reputation intact we decide to take ourselves for a ride into and then a walk around Burgos. I am no fan of in town riding so I decide to go pillion today. As we ride into town I observe how much graffiti abounds. Any spare wall or bus shelter is festooned with paint. Even a truck that must have stayed still a little too long is decorated.
Some graffiti art can be amazing. Some just looks trashy and a mess. Most of what I see is sadly the latter. People's names and political statements rather than considered works of art.
Burgos is a busy town so if riding here keep your wits about you. There are lots of roundabouts and zebra crossings to contend with. I am glad I am on the back of the bike.
We find a place to park but being a main town it is pay and display. Ren goes to collect a ticket and helps a vicar obtain one too. I say vicar but to be honest I do not know if he is a vicar, priest, or chaplain etc. So a man of faith shall we say. Whatever his chosen faith may be he is a joyful happy chap and we are gifted angel biscuits for Ren's assistance. He makes me smile as his enthusiasm and broad grin is infectious.
Food of the Gods
The townsfolk are friendly, happy to help with directions etc. I really do like the Spanish people. In town there is a vast array of places to eat to chose from, including amazing cake shops displaying sugar filled sensations. I want them all.
Plenty of places to eat
The centre of Burgos is far more interesting than the outskirts we discovered the other day and we are happy enough to meander through its streets and admire some of its ancient architecture. It is surprisingly quiet walking around. Tourist season is definitely not yet upon us.
Ancient architecture and alleyways are here to be discovered.
As non city people we are vaguely interested in what is around us but we find we are not as usual enthralled. That is until we meet the Cathedral. The Cathedral here is the Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Santa María de Burgos and it is as impressive and mighty as it's name.
We walk all around it and view it from different angles both up close and at a distance.
The Cathedral's construction was started on the 20th June 1221. It has been added to and restored through each succeeding century. I marvel at the stone masons' art and their ability to extract such fine detail from the stones with which they worked. I have a great fondness for gargoyles and water spouts and the Cathedral supplies these in multitude.
The Cathedral is a testament to the grandeur, craftsmanship and the beauty that man can create.
As we rest for a while on a seat overlooking the Cathedral I ponder on people's religious beliefs. For all around these parts we have seem the seashell motif. The symbolic emblem to denote the Pilgrim routes, the road to Santiago. Or to give it is correct name the Camino de Santiago. Translated to English it is St James Way.
There are many stories as to why the scallop shell became associated with this pilgrimage but here it is suffice to say that today the scallop shell, together with a yellow arrow is used to guide pilgrims along the different routes heading to Santiago.
The pilgrimage started in 812AD after the remains of St James were discovered. Over the years less people travelled the routes but interest was revived in the 70's and 80's thanks mainly to the tireless work of the scholar priest Elías Valiña Sampedro. He dedicated 30 years of his life to the revival of the routes.
Today many people walk these routes for various reasons other than purely religious. Be it spiritual, adventure or simple curiosity these ancient pathways have caught the interest of modern men and women aided by maps of routes, places to stay and lots of other information now easily accessible via the internet.
I personally became aware of the routes due to the author Paulo Coelho. I was a huge fan if his early works and his book about walking one of the routes is documented in his book The Pilgrimage.
I can understand the lure of these pathways and there has been times in my life where if circumstances had allowed I may well have become a pilgrim myself. Today however I only touch parts of these routes by chance, not design and it's the motorbike that carries the load not my legs. Right now I wouldn't want it any other way. I may not be travelling a specific designated religious or spiritual route but for me this trip has so far been very life affirming and soul enhancing to my own being.
Once back at the campsite a look on the internet confirms that whatever route we may choose to travel tomorrow will be a wet one. To cheer us up I look to find us some dry accommodation. At least if we get a thorough soaking it would be comforting to know a dry haven awaits without having to do battle with a soggy tent erection. Rain once inside a tent is fine. Putting up a tent in a deluge, whilst trying to keep contents dry, while cold and wet yourself is no fun really.
To my surprise I find a lovely looking lodge via Booking.com for €30 euros a night. Wow not much more than camping fees. That will do nicely.
It is a bit chilly tonight so I take out my foil blanket. I haven't used one before and purchased it after looking for suggestions regarding keeping warm whilst camping. The foil blanket is a basic emergency blanket. They are cheap, less than a £1 each, light and pack down small so perfect to pop in your luggage.
In theory of you place them under your sleeping bag they will stop the cold coming up from your mat and also reflect your own body heat back to yourself. As I unpack it is rather noisy but fortunately it moulds to the lilo and therefore creates little noise once I lie on it and move around.
An Emergency blanket. Small and super lightweight. Pic of blanket pre packed and repacked after being used.
The foil blanket is not the only new piece of equipment I have with me on this holiday, as I mentioned earlier on I have a new sleeping bag. Being my first ever duck down bag its lightness confused me. It is warm but my body wanted weight if that makes sense. I am slowly getting use to it but it felt very strange at first. I snuggle down into my sleeping bag and hope for a good night's sleep for tomorrow we shall ride on again.
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Building Up To España
In the prologue to their journey Ren can't help but feel that the forthcoming journey might be a costly disaster. Forever the optimist.
Getting Ready For Spain
Sharon is determined to be ready, organised and prepared for her forthcoming trip to Spain. However life is even more determined to ruin her plans.
Bodging Daaan Saaaf
Ren bears witness to an impossible event. Then there's some last minute bodging to be done.
Motorway Miles And Muses
Sharon's derriere proves more than tough enough for the big ride across England. Can she manage to lose them emotional luggage while securing her physical luggage though?
To The Ferry
What are the chances of Sharon getting out of bed very early twice in the same week. Well she'd better had otherwise the Muppet's will miss the ferry.
Sharon's more excited than nervous but this is the first time the Kwakker has been aboard ship. That's if customs let her on board.
Lost Off The Ferry
The great adventurer and motorcyclist Ren is proving that he is in fact a useless idiot. He can't ride and he can't find a campsite that is open. Oh what will become of the BAT muppets?
Sharon is having way too much fun while Ren is trying to find a place to sleep. Well someone has to be happy when Ren's such a grump.
Discovering The Picos
After a troublesome first day in Spain hopefully Sharon and Ren's luck will improve. Thing is they have a 187km detour to reach their destination. There have been worse detours though.
Putting fear and doubt to bed for a while Sharon enjoys the wondrous ecstasy of nature and the joy of riding a motorcycle through it. Oh and a lot of sharp corners too.
Rain In The Picos
Will the rain bring doom and gloom to the already grumpy Ren? Luckily there's enough scenery and interesting things to keep him going.
The Sound Of Silence
In spite of a dire weather forecast Sharon's day in Spain is filled with the beauty of nature, fond memories and the creation of great new memories.
Riding to Burgos
Is motorcycle touring a non stop stream of excitement, beauty, wonder and exploration? Erm, nope. It's a rather ordinary day on the road to Burgos.
It's both a good and bad day for Sharon as she travels from the delights of the mountains to the grim reality of the city and the rain. At least her hair is looking good.
Higher Than I've Ever Been
In spite of the weather forecasts. In spite of no longer being in The Picos. In spite of Ren being a pessimist. In spite of all this it seems Northern Spain has more delights in store.
Sharon's having another amazing day riding around Northern Spain. She's on a high, metaphorically and literally.
Boots And Burgos
Ren is suffering a footwear malfunction and it's time to go and do that city thing. Can Burgos convert Sharon and Ren into city lovers?
Sharon explores the city of Burgos, Spain. Architecture, stone masonry, pilgrims and tempting food. But can a city really endear itself to this country girl?
Lost In Luxury
How to turn a fortuitous and splendid day into a nightmare. Just follow Ren and he'll sort the rest out. Still, it could be worse.
Fearing the weather Sharon is braced for a drenching. Thing is the weather isn't really the problem.
Gritty Northern El Bierzo
There's time to explore a different part of Northern Spain today. It might not have the beauty of The Picos De Europa it is however a fascinating area.
Blink Of An Eye
Sharon has an interesting day poking around north west Spain. There's a something of a shock in store for the evening.
Back To Beauty, Dodgy Caravan
It's time for the dynamic muppets to saunter their way back towards the ferry and Ren is in reflective mood. Wonderful scenery, weird accommodation.
The Good, The Bad And The Musty
It's a day of confusing emotions for Sharon, but life is for living. Will this evening's accommodation be as luxurious as the previous evening's?
While going to a now familiar town is hardly intrepid at least it means Ren is calm, chilled out and not lost. For once.
Head In The Clouds
Sharon is calmed by the wonders of Northern Spain's wondrous scenery as she returns to the comforts of Potes.
Sun, Sand, Sea And Santander
The weather has improved now it's time for the dynamic muppets to head back to the ferry. Ren is intrigued by stories or walking across Northern Spain, will we see "Walks And Travels" or W.A.T.?
Splish Splash Santander
The beauty and grandeur of the The Picos means Sharon does not want to leave, ever. It's back to the city, ready to sail home. Fear not, there's still pleasures to be found.
The Ferry Home
It's the dynamic muppet's last day in Spain so it's time to catch the ferry. A mixture of sadness and relief for Ren, but what about the other riders in the queue?
Final Thoughts On Spain
Ren crosses the T's and dots the I's on the Spanish trip.
Rod said :-
Looking at your pics has made me think again. I should stop riding so many miles in one day, and appreciate the places I ride past.
Or maybe I should ditch the bike and start walking!
17/8/2018 10:06:07 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I no longer do extended continental (or anywhere else indeed) tours. However, when I did I always liked to be at my resting place for the night (never pre-planned) by 4 pm or so giving plenty of time for a wash and brush up and a reasonable stroll around the town, with a glass of beer in a neighbourhood bar before dinner.
I generally tried to find small independent hotels in small towns with something to see - always churches etc but often other interesting buildings.
Harder when camping of course but in France many of the municipals are on the edge of towns or villages so you can still do this.
17/8/2018 10:52:08 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
We are all different Rod and we appreciate different things. While Sharon and I don't agree on everything we both seem to appreciate not ploughing on through endless miles every day, rather we like to stop and look around.
Ian's right about the camping. While some (not all) camping municipals in France are close to town generally around the UK (and Spain too) the campsites are way out of town.
If you're going to a specific place and know well in advance then it's a good idea to seek out campsites close to places you may wish to explore. In the past we've also used buses to reach town.
However on a tour like this one we don't know exactly where we are going to go. In which case we have to improvise. By taking a day out from travelling and simply making the fairly short ride to town we had the chance to look around. That said we had our bike kit on and our helmets which is a pain in the ass.
Whatever works for you - but I do strongly recommend travelling slowly.
17/8/2018 11:57:30 AM UTC
Ross said :-
If you're interested in a light-hearted view of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage I found this book quite entertaining...Spanish Steps: Travels With My Donkey, by Tim Moore.
Just wanted to mention I've been enjoying following your Spanish adventures and look forward to it's conclusion (don't keep us waiting too long! :) )...and then have next years big trip to look forward to...any plans yet?
17/11/2018 11:09:05 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I keep on prodding Sharon to get on with it but she's got other fish to fry first. I reckon it'll be done just before next year's trip.
As for next year - we would love to go back to Spain but with the pending disaster that is, or may be, Brexit I'm loathe to shell out for a ferry with any uncertainty looming. So far the plans involve The Mull Of Kintyre. It's an area I've not explored yet.
18/11/2018 8:37:17 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Just keep well clear of this lot:
19/11/2018 12:37:51 PM UTC
Ross said :-
:))) He's rock and roll royalty He is...how long was it number 1 back in the day?...seemed like forever!
19/11/2018 3:40:57 PM UTC
NigelS said :-
Ian Soady . . . Linda Eastman (aka Lady McCartney) great music and documentary photographer RIP
19/11/2018 3:53:32 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
As soon as I mention going to the Mull Of Kintyre everyone starts singing that blasted song. I am old enough to remember it well. I have "mixed" feelings about the tune, The McCartneys, The Beatles, Wings and all things from the 70s.
19/11/2018 4:54:49 PM UTC
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Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018