After leaving Estrella via the most beautiful and scenic path, we arrived in Los Arcos. A small town off of northern Spain’s main highway. We were pleased we arrived early despite taking the longer route. I thought we could pick just about anywhere to stay. But much to my dismay, everywhere was booked. And let me say, I always thought I would just remain flexible, ya know, see what the camino brings, yada yada yada. But after 20+ miles in 80 degree weather, the last thing you want to do is continue walking around a stone city looking for a place to sleep. After a few hours, we arrived just outside of town to find a hostel with only two beds left. We felt so lucky. Later on that day we heard (at the only restaurant in town) that everywhere really was full and they were busing pilgrims outside of the city to a public pool to sleep. We sat that night watching as two waiters served a crowd of nearly 200 tired, oblivious, pilgrims, and couldn’t help but wonder. What is it like for the locals? Obviously the money must be great. But what about their town? Their way of life? What about the whole idea of meeting people from these small towns? Its started to seem like everyone was just there to meet other pilgrims that spoke their language. Like some kind of large super expensive meetup group.
It’s not that I had a horrible time on the whole camino. It just seems that its popularity, funding by the European Union, and efforts to make it a commodity ruin its wild beauty. From what we were learning, over the past ten years walking on a perfectly sculpted dirt path with a tree every 25 feet had become the standard set by the EU. The days of letting people route find and truly see northern Spain were dead. We also learned there are really only a few parts of the actual camino left. Most of it had been paved over or built upon. So while there were some really cool Roman roads, a majority of the way had literally been shaped for tourism. We ran into this directly later on when we spent an hour wandering through a city following the yellow arrows only to find ourselves back at the entrance of the city. The camino was literally weaved into a city that was next to the camino, not on it.
Anyway, back to Los Arcos. That was the night that it really hit Michael too. We were laying in bunk beds when a drunk guy in a suit busted into the room stumbled around and left. Michael and I met outside the room and discussed. Michael was just fed up. However, I felt a little threatened. How could I drunk dude just walk off the streets and come in? We both tried to head off to bed again. Then at 1:45 and 4am the dude returned. The last time he came in he had brought a friend. His friends guided him to the next room where they were apparently staying. Then, at 4 am, the party started. People were drinking, yelling, fighting, just all around drunkin’ assery. The one benefit was everyone in our room left and started walking, but my ankle was swollen so we just waited out the party and then slept in.
It was at this point that we began to take more ownership. We quit wishing and dreaming of all the romantic ideas of the camino and looked at it for what it was.
From Los Arcos, we headed into Logroño via taxi with my swollen ankle and then onto Burgos via train. It was great to have let go of the constraint of having to walk every individual kilometer, and just have fun. Also, that 80 degree weather and sunshine…. so much more delightful not walking with a huge pack 🙂
While we had a blast in Logroño, I am realizing there isn’t many pictures. Logroño is also where we found some of the liveliest tapas culture and some kick ass Potatas Bravas!
So below are pictures from Burgos. Burgos was an incredible city! I couldn’t believe it but we found an amazing vegan restaurant! It was such a nice break.