El Camino de Santiago || Week Three

Camino de Santiago, Personal, Travel


Welcome friends! In case you’re new around here, allow me to introduce this crazy adventure! Last summer I did the craziest thing of my life so far and walked 500 miles across Northern Spain with my 18 yr-old brother as a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago. It took us five full weeks to get from St. Jean Pied-de-Port France to Santiago on foot and I’m so excited to finally be sharing the photos and stories of our journey! I have committed to a five-week series where each Friday I post the next installment of our journey. Be sure to follow the links above if you’ve missed any of the other installments and hit the subscribe button to be the first to know when the next installment goes live! __________________________________________________________________ WEEK THREE Our third week of the Camino brought us to the dreaded “Meseta”, a central high plateau in Spain that ranges in elevation from 1300 to 3200 ft and is known for its endless fields of wheat, flat open horizons and wide open skies. There is little shade found in this section of the Camino and certain stretches certainly became repetitive with the yellow landscape but overall it wasn’t as bad as some people had made it sound. We also lucked out with a relatively cooler July than is normal for Spain and so we didn’t experience the dreaded scorching sun quite as much as some former pilgrims had warned us we would. DAY FIFTEEN: Burgos to Hornillos del Camino || ≈ 20.8km (12.9 mi) We headed out of Burgos and after a few miles of walking through the outskirts of the city we officially entered the Meseta. A group of my household sisters from Franciscan actually were walking the Camino at the same time as us, but they were about 2 or 3 weeks ahead of us so they would tell me things to look out for or things they had really loved. This group of friends had stopped at Hornillos del Camino and LOVED it so we decided to stop there too. Around Burgos, we began to see these massive storks’ nests all over chimneys and steeples. The picture below really does not show you the true massive-ness of these nests but they were seriously huge. A very typical view of the trail on the Meseta: We stayed in the municipal albergue in Hornillos which was located right next to the Church: The Church in Hornillos was another one of my favorite Churches. I LOVE the white stone and intricate ceiling. DAY SIXTEEN: Hornillos to Castrojeriz || ≈ 20km (12.4 miles) Our second official day on the Meseta was really hot and we were quite ok with making it a bit of a shorter day. We only crossed through one official town and so most of the day was just endless wheat fields. We had one of our earliest morning starts to try and arrive at our destination before the worst of the afternoon sun hit which meant we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise on the trail. Entering the town of Hontonas, the only town we walked through this day: The other highlight of the day was passing the ruins of San Antón. This Church once belonged to the Order of St. Anthony and was probably built around the 11th century. Today there is a unique albergue built within the ruins which has no electricity or running water (hence one of the reasons we opted out of staying here). The road literally goes straight under the main arches. We took a little detour to explore the ruins and then as we were leaving, we were stopped by a man who runs a little cafe across the street from the ruins. He called us over to offer us slices of fresh cold watermelon which was the perfect treat for this hot day. A little later on we passed fields of the largest dandelions I have ever seen in my life. Some of them were literally the size of my face. Entering the town of Castrojeriz. We actually didn’t have the greatest experience in this town but that was my fault for picking the albergue I did instead of just walking a little further and staying in the municipal albergue. DAY SEVENTEEN: Castrojeriz to Frómista || ≈ 24.9km (15.4 mi) Our day started with crossing a large marshy plain before climbing around 700 ft up a very steep path to reach Alto de Mostelares and then climb down the other side to enter, you guessed it more endless fields of wheat. We were rewarded for our strenuous climb by some incredible views as the valley behind us was illuminated by the early morning sunshine. The view of the other side from the top: John Paul’s face summarizing how we feel about the slightly overwhelming view in front of us and the prospect of having to walk straight through it. We stayed in the charming town of Fromísta that night and this albergue had a really nice courtyard garden out front which I spent several hours in after we arrived. And this was the view from my bunk in Fromísta, not too shabby: Day EIGHTEEN: Frómista to Carríon de Los Condes || ≈ 18.7km (11.6 mi) I had been looking forward to this day for a while because I was very excited to stay in Carríon de Los Condes. My friends who were a few weeks ahead of us had told us about this town and how there are two albergues run by two different orders of Religious sisters. We stayed in the parroquial albergue which is run by an order of Augustinian Sisters. These sisters lead an evening music prayer service for any pilgrims who wished to participate and it was so great! The Monasterio de Santa Clara also has an albergue and is run by the Poor Clare sisters. They also have a Eucharistic Adoration chapel with the largest monstrance I have ever seen in my life. The trail on this day ran parallel to the road for almost the entire day but it was lined with lots of wildflowers. We started this day pretty early as well because it was Sunday again and we were hoping to make it to Carríon de Los Condes by mid-morning so we could make it to a Sunday Mass. Just about half-way to Santiago! Honestly, you can’t really tell in the photo below just how huge this monstrance is, but it must be several feet tall: A few of the Augustinian sisters leading us in their evening music prayer session. They had a variety of songs in different languages on their paper and it was a really neat experience! They had an evening Sunday Mass for the pilgrims and it was pretty packed. At the end of Mass, the Augustinian sisters and the priest stood at the front of the Church and offered blessings for any pilgrims who wished to receive one. DAY NINETEEN: Carríon de Los Condes to Terradillos de Los Templarios || ≈ 26.6km (16.5mi) We finally got back on track with our guidebook on this day and we were greeted with a 17km stretch with no towns to pass through and just one seasonal snack stand that offered some simple refreshments about halfway through. We were very grateful that the seasonal snack stand was open! There was nothing like the sight of an approaching town after several hours with no water sources and no bathroom breaks. Besides two albergues, there really is nothing at all in the “town” but thankfully the one albergue had a small store attached to it so we were able to get some food for dinner and some snacks for the next day. DAY TWENTY: Terradillos de Los Templarios to Bercianos del Real || ≈ 23.3km (14.4 mi) We had two route options on this day and we chose the one our guidebook didn’t recommend because there was a donativo albergue in Bercianos del Real that had a lot of good reviews. The guidebook didn’t recommend this route because large portions of the trail simply run parallel to the road and aren’t very exciting but we had an awesome experience at the albergue in Bercianos del Real so I think it was well worth the slightly less exciting path. Coffee was a daily occurrence (often a twice a day occurrence) and was so.dang.good. A freshly baked pastry was a rather frequent occurrence as well (still somehow confused how I lost weight during this trip when I was eating like this…but I guess walking 500miles must have balanced it all out). A few pictures of our albergue in Bercianos. The middle picture shows the washing station in the backyard for pilgrims to wash their clothes. We had a communal dinner with the twenty or so fellow pilgrims staying in our albergue and then we all pitched in to clean up and then we walked a short distance outside of town for a beautiful vantage point to watch the sunset. This was honestly probably one of the only sunsets I saw on the entire Camino because we were almost always in bed well before the sun had set. DAY TWENTY-ONE: Bercianos del Real to Mansilla || ≈ 26.8 (16.6 miles) I hardly took any pictures this day but the most fascinating part of the day happened mid-morning when we had a glorious view of a thunderstorm in the distance (which thankfully never actually came over and hit us). We officially had filled one half of our pilgrim passport when we got our stamp for our albergue in Mansilla. And that’s a wrap for week three! We walked about 100 miles this week and we had completed approximately 3/5 of our journey by the end of this week! Xoxo, Mary Kate


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