Camino de Santiago, Days 14 & 15
Day 14 Burgos to Hotanas 19 Miles
This article is the thirteenth in our series of walking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago with my husband Scott. Some articles will be only about one day of walking, and some may include a few days of walking, for the lengths will vary. To begin with the first article click here.
Day 14 on the Camino de Santiago began with much excitement because we were entering a week long walk on the section called the Meseta. It is known for miles of wide-open spaces and high plains. Some pilgrims choose to skip this part of the Camino and bus ahead. They aren’t interested in the wide open spaces and tiny towns along the way.
The 45-minute walk out of the city of Burgos was very pleasant. We walked through a huge park called El Parral, which is a beautiful place where locals hold fiestas.
For a few minutes, we walked with the couple we had met previously, and their guide dog. They were on a slower pace than we were, so we said our farewells, knowing we wouldn’t be seeing them again on the Camino. Scott and I had different mileage goals and a timeline to keep. In one week we would be meeting our friends from home in Leon.
Once we began walking on a dirt, farm road, our feet were happier. Scott’s shin splints caused him some pain, but we were feeling good after lightening our pack load in Burgos.
We began walking through miles of farmland and it became very foggy. Just then, we met Jeremy and Katrina, a young couple from Ohio. We shared a similar walking pace, so it was nice to walk along and chat.
All of a sudden, we heard a tremendous noise coming from the field next to us. We couldn’t see more than twenty feet ahead of us, due to the fog. Katrina thought it was a combine tractor. I feared for our safety because it seemed to be coming toward us. A few minutes later, we all laughed as we realized it was a freight train passing by!
After several hours walking, we all decided to stop for food. Scott and I had iced tea and tortilla potata. Jeremy and Katrina were serious about taking a long break with their meal. They had hamburgers and beer! Scott and I couldn’t imagine having such a big meal when we still had hours of walking ahead. Plus, Scott falls asleep after drinking beer, so that wouldn’t work!
It was a good test of our patience to sit through the long lunch. Scott and I didn’t usually take long breaks but we really enjoyed the company of our new friends.
As we rested our feet at the outside cafe, Jeremy took off his shoes and socks and covered his feet with Vaseline and then new socks. It was a preventive technique for blisters. Maybe I should have done that a long time ago! The funny thing about this is it didn’t even phase us; foot care was normal restaurant behavior on the Camino.
Late in the afternoon we arrived in the small town of Hotanas. It was a relief to come upon this charming town after walking 19 miles.
We all went into a hostel to see if there were rooms available, and just our luck, there were! The owner was so friendly and asked if we wanted to sign up for the pilgrim dinner which he and his wife would be hosting that night. He said he would be serving “the best paella in all of Spain.” Scott was very excited and liked his confidence. I told him I didn’t like rice and he said he would make pasta for me instead. He was so sweet!
Socializing in the Afternoon
Scott and I cleaned up and washed our laundry. We were lucky to have a sun facing room, so our clothes would dry quickly while hanging from the window sill.
We went out to the patio between our hostel and the church and met our friends for a glass of wine. Brenna, a young woman Scott and I had met on our first day of the Camino (and never seen again in 14 days) passed by and spotted us. She joined us as we sat in the sun with our feet up, sipping wine and telling stories about our lives back home.
At one point, the church bells started ringing for about five minutes. We think it was calling the pilgrims to mass. The sound echoed through the small town and it was a special few minutes.
At our pilgrim dinner, we met some new people; Lou and Helen from Texas, Axel from Germany, Serge from Alberta, as well as Brenna, Jeremy and Katrina.
It was a lively group and Manuel (the owner) told us the story of how he and his wife Svetlana had met as they walked the Camino and fell in love.
Everyone said the paella was excellent and I enjoyed my pasta a lot. It was so nice of Manuel to make it special for me.
The evening was one of our favorite pilgrim dinners on the Camino.
Day 15 Hotanas to Itero de la Vega, 14 Miles
Scott and I were up before the sun and on our way out of Hotanas. My feet were sore as I had developed two new blisters the day before. Scott’s shins were a bit swollen and sore as well.
We came upon the ruins of the San Antón Convent and passed through the tunnel. It boggled our minds to think of all the pilgrims who had passed through this very spot over the years.
Scott and I stopped in Castrojeriz for coffee and ran into Jeremy and Katrina. We walked together for most of the morning. As we passed many fields of fresh cut wheat, Jeremy stopped to explain to us the process of wheat and the different parts of the grain. It was interesting, and being from the mountains of California we had no clue about wheat.
Eventually, we saw a big climb ahead, so Scott and I stopped to tend to our feet. Jeremy and Katrina kept going and Scott and I talked to Lou and Helen who had stopped as well.
Scott and I made our way up the hill, it was steeper than it looked from far away. We enjoyed the gorgeous views it provided, but I mainly kept my head down and thought of the little old french lady and just thought, one small step at a time. It really got our hearts pumping, it was the biggest hill we had climbed in a while.
When we reached the top, we saw Jeremy and Katrina had taken a break to wait for us, so we all continued on together. We went down the other side of the hill and all we could see for miles and miles was bare land. It was hot and there was no shade. Up ahead, we could see the dirt road was under the clouds and our path would be shaded. We hurried ahead to race the clouds and enjoyed a break from the sun.
A Stopping Point
Eventually, we came to the town of Itero de la Vega. We had only walked 14 miles but Scott and I were having trouble with our feet and shins. Maybe we had overdone it a bit the day before.
There was a room available at the hostel, which also had a great bar and was a popular spot for pilgrims to stop for a meal and refreshments along the way. Our friends had a big lunch and relaxed with us for a while, and then were on their way again. They planned to walk for a few more hours before ending for the day.
We were bummed to see them go, as we knew we probably wouldn’t see them again on the Camino again. They were short on time and would need to bus ahead through a section soon.
Time for Rest
We enjoyed our rest that afternoon, and the bar served us soup, even though it was siesta. What a delicious treat!
The meseta was proving to be beautiful so far. Scott and I enjoyed the expansive views and being able to see for miles ahead. The city of Santiago de Compostela, our final destination, was coming to our minds more often as we made our way west, day after day.
Day 15, 14 Miles