La cattolica

By the Bar you read the paper

Second day of rest. I spent the first nursing my body, i.e. doing nothing at all, as well as contemplating what to do today. After careful consideration, and no little reliance on the weather charts, I elected to stop for a second day.

There is a lingering thought at the back of my mind that tells me that, if the temperature continues in this totally natural way, being mid November, but yet totally merciless to the summer equipped cyclist, I will be better loading the bike on a train south, occasionally sticking my nose out of the carriage and dismounting as soon as the temperature becomes more agreeable.

We are not there yet, it looks like tomorrow’s weather will be clear if a little chilly, so I will set sail for Torquemada on the route to Valladolid.

I did not have a chance to get out  anywhere yesterday, partly because I had near no cloths, all washed now, and partly as it was cold and torrentially wet.

I got very excited on the way into town on Friday when I realised that this might very well be the nicest city I have encountered on the trip so far, definitely worth a look at.

One of the things that has bugged me more in the last few weeks is the “one shot or you’ve missed it” quality of this trip of mine.

Not sure what this is all about.

Much as life is, a round trip means that you won’t have a second chance at places. There is no return leg that follows in reverse all the tracks you’ve made.

On top of that, if I am to finish the whole trip, there will be little chance my tyres will ride twice over the same piece of tarmac, unless I get lost.

This awareness is even more present when you spend large amount of time regretting not taking that picture at the top of the hill when you’re now at the bottom, or not filming that stretch of cost when you’re now well into the mountains.

Well, in order to prevent further regret, in the knowledge that I might not be passing these parts for a very very long time, I braved what the weather forecast described as “5º fells like -1º”.

The first thing to be said about Burgos is that is very nice. Granted I only went around the centre and sampled food and drinks from only a handful of  places, but the feel is one of a city that knows what’s good and what’s not.

There is a great deal of interesting architecture and it appears there is a great inclination for public art. I became quite quickly addicted at taking picture of all these statues that are dotted all over the place.

The idea was, obviously, going and looking up where they come from and what was the driver in putting them there. Definitely something to do between this posting and dinner.

The cathedral

Burgos is however, and I suspect has been for a while a tourist destination, as you get from both the type and the decor of the shop that “here to fish money out of your pocket” feel.

On top of that when you get to the cathedral, undoubtedly an architectural masterpiece, you can go in and follow a very regimented path if you want to pray in the west corner, other than that you have to go and get yourself a ticket.

I don’t really like cathedrals, mostly for what they represent. I don’t mind churches as they, despite the unnecessary baggage of religion that inevitably comes with them, have formed and still form a cornerstone of the social bonding of our society.

Cathedral on the other hand are simply a reminder that religion has evolved into a system of power. They are there to get people to recognise the primacy of the church rather than for the church to sanctify the primacy of the people.

Nothing says that more clearly than an entry fee.

So here I am, entering, observing what I can observe for free, and, on the way out, emptying my purse of a few coins not in the donation box but in the little basket of the beggar just outside the main door.

If I was still the boy I was, and not the the old cynic I have become, I would be enraged at the juxtaposition of the ladies in fur coats inside the cathedral listening to the teaching that were probably stale two thousand years ago, while there are opportunities for charity within a few yards of them.

Pilgrim’s monument

I’m not enraged, I try not to judge anymore, but sometime it’s very hard. It is natural after all. I remember that my first reaction to visiting the Vatican as a child was the same as Tarn’s reaction when we went many years after, “why are they not feeding the hungry with all this?” she asked, much as I asked many years before to my parents.

The thing that strikes you going around Burgos is how much of the tourism must indeed be religion driven. Most people, as they see me, assume that I’m on one of the various penitentiary caminos. They sometime get quite disappointed when I explain that I’m doing what I’m doing for very secular reasons, and “No, I’m not going to Santiago!”.

I suspect not many of the people that walk the Camino de Santiago do it as a form of penance or as a spiritual retreat. For sure those that do will find it quite depressing to share accommodation with the kind of “gadgetted to the hilts” people I have seen going around town.

Mind you I have a gadget quandary of my own.

Over the past few days, as I looked at the grimmer and grimmer temperature forecast, I have purchased both a pair of  gloves and a woolly hat. As I walk around Burgos [see below], I see people in clothes that you don’t even see people wearing in the UK.

So shall I purchase more cloths? or shall I just ride my luck in the knowledge that the promise land is only 10 days of riding away?

More for the cloths than for the shop, but nice shop anyway.

On the whole I would recommend a visit to Burgos, ideally in the mid season as I suspect it might get a bit hot in the summer. It is clean and tidy and it looks like there might be a lot more than just praying to be done.

My hotel is just down that road.

I’m going to eat out tonight, second restaurant meal of the trip. I’ve discovered there is a good place for steaks just around the corner and I need all the proteins I can get my teeth on.

Or so goes the excuse 😉

All very nice and tidy, isn’t it?

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Julca says:

    Anche Hemingway parlava di Burgos come di una cittadina molto pulita ed ordinata.
    Perchè non ti compri qualche capo invernale economico,magari da Decathlon,poi li ragali a qualche indigente quando incontri il caldo. Piuttosto che finire per ammalarti…

    1. Alex says:

      Mi sa che monitoro e poi se non si riscalda un po faro proprio cosi.

  2. Ilaria says:

    Hai fatto benone!! Ti sei fermato un paio di giorni in una città che mi sembra molto carina!!! E che spero ti abbia fatto gustare una buona bistecca… Che quando ci vuole ci vuole

  3. Jayne says:

    Strange to think in 10 days or so you’ll be needing high factor sunscreen – not extra clothes.
    You are doing really fantastic – totally inspirational!

  4. Giovanni says:

    Ciao Alex , sono a Biarritz da Lorenzo, mi è dispiaciuto non averti incontrato qui , ma quando torni a Modena sei invitato a casa mia a pranzo!!! Buon proseguimento Gianni

    1. Alex says:

      Sicuramente ci sono, io ci metto il vino tu ci metti i funghi 🙂 Quando arrivo in Sud Africa parcheggio la bici e faccio un po di vacanza tra Modena e il Regno Unito prima di ripartire per l’altra meta dell’Africa.

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