by Craig Randall
January 14, 2005
What can you say about Burgos? It is truly an amazing city and one of the best-kept secrets of tourism in Spain, in general. As you approach the casco Viejo, you start to feel a little different. Very little has changed here, and very few cars are allowed in the old quarter. This allows the visitor to explore uninterrupted the charms of the heart of Burgos.
Due to the lateness of the hour and the length of our journey today, we opted to try private commercial lodgings. We checked into a fantastic room at the Hotel del Cid, which is a stone's throw, literally, from the cathedral. The pictures we took attest to that. We recommend the Hotel del Cid to anyone. It was a welcome lodging after such a long day on the saddle.
The road out of Burgos for pilgrims is still the N-120, and you'll follow this road all the way to Olmillos. We pulled into a bar for sandwiches and drinks and sat down next to the embutidos guy. In other words, this man sold salami and salchichón for a living. We were quickly recognized as pilgrims, and he offered us some chorizo samples, among other things. What a treat!
Olmillos has a neat castle right in town, which isn't saying much. I would say the population of Olmillos is somewhere in the few hundreds. The castle dates to the 13th century and is in good condition. There is also a Romanesque church in town that makes the smallish village something a little more special.
The riding through this region is mostly along local roads that are scarcely traveled. This was one of the joys as we headed from Olmillos towards our next big stop at Castrojeriz. We were mostly alone, as the pedestrian pilgrimage trail is off this road, and although visible from where we were cycling, it was far enough away that we couldn't even tell if people were walking on it.
A number of the settlements in this area are Celtiberian in origin and were originally hilltop municipalities known as "castros", hence the name of this town. The town is located on top of a hill that has provided it with strategic advantages over the years. The Romans captured it and fortified it over their period of domination in the peninsula. It was a major crossroads and way-station for pilgrims over the years, as its history shows, and it used to have seven hospitals. Today, it has one pharmacy.
From journal The Camino de Santiago - Spain