We enjoyed one last day exploring Santiago before flying home tomorrow. We went to the pilgrim mass at the Cathedral in the morning and browsed through the shops. Our final destination before dinner…..a local tattoo studio!
Today We cycled through rolling farmland where little has changed in centuries. Inheritance laws have required farms to be divided among the heirs, so they’ve become smaller over time – too small for machinery. Farming is still done the same way as it has been for generations. it was a very hilly challenging ride. 49 miles.
Our most challenging climbing of the tour occured today as we crossed the Galicia Mountains. We stopped just over the pass in the tiny hamlet of O Cebreiro. You may remember seeing the thatch roofed stone houses here in Martin Sheen’s movie “The Way.”
As we climbed, the scenery changed to lush countryside. It was absolutely beautiful! 25 miles.
We headed out after breakfast cycling along the Orbigo River. It was a very nice ride with some hills and flat lands. We had to climb a very steep hill to reach the town of Astorga, our destination for today. In Astorga, we visited its 15th century cathedral and the Episcopal Palace (designed by Antoni Gaudi). We also went to the main square and checked out the Chocolate Museum. This region of Spain was among the first to see the future in chocolate after it was introduced to Herman Cortes and his conquistadors by the Aztecs in the 16th century. This area began making chocolate in commercial quantities in the early 17th century, which turned Astorga into one of the great chocolate centers for Spain.
Our first stop on today’s route was also one of the most famous on the Camino. It was here on the banks of the Cea River where Charlemagne fought the Moors in the year 778. More than 40,000 knights died. We ended our cycling day in the beautiful city of León.
It was a long cycling day but the headwinds were not as strong so today’s ride was much more enjoyable than yesterday’s ride.
Total for today = 65 miles.
We will enjoy a layover day in León to visit the sites and give our legs a rest. Our hotel is a short walk to all the sites!
After breakfast, we left Burgos on a bike path. The day began with rolling hills but turned into the flattest section of the Camino. We cycled past fields of grains and sunflowers and wind farms. We stopped to admire the 11th century Romanesque church of San Martin full of beautifully detailed sculptures. Then we stopped at the huge church of Santa Maria la Blanca.
It was a very tough day for riding. The flattest section of the Camino was actually the hardest for cycling because of the strong headwind. We were all exhausted by the end of the day.
Total distance today = 60 miles.
Today’s beautiful ride took us through the Goose Hills. Yellow arrows and scallop shells carved into stone marked our way. We ended the day in the great cathedral city of Burgos. Stunning from the outside, the grand cathedral sits in the center of the town’s square and a short walk from our hotel.
Along the way we passed the sanctuary of San Juan de Ortega. Total distance = 56 miles.
Our next stop was San Juan de Ortega. This was once one of the most important stops along the Camino. St. John of Ortega was St. Domingo´s principal helper who later went on to build more hospitals and churches for the pilgrims. He is buried in the church here. Queen Isabel was cured of her infertility after praying at San Juan´s tomb and in thanks had the original little chapel completely rebuilt. The pilgrim´s hostal is still run in the old tradition by the parish priest. We also had our passports stamped here.
After a long climb, we made it to Burgos. our final destination for the day.
We checked into our hotel and walked over to the town center of Burgos for dinner.