Camino: Day 16-18

Atapuerca and Burgos

Day 16 – Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca:

Coming out of Villafranca in the morning was up up up. And have I mentioned lately how much I love the up? Downs kill my feet/toes. Then there was this downhill like I’ve never seen. I thought I might start to fall to the bottom. I could hear some 20 nothing behind me sliding down the hill. “Buen Camino!” as he rolled past me. Then only to be met with another straight up. Spain loves their hills. It was 12.4 km until the first town. That was a lot. Luckily Feena shared her yogourt with me and I had a granola bar and apple. We stopped at the Oasis. Too bad it was Sunday as the breakfast board looked amazing. The oasis is this weird and delightful place on the side of the trail in the middle of nowhere. I finally got a cafe con lèche at about 10:30-11. I had a bit of a scare which sent me into another spiral wondering what I need to learn from the Camino again. The scare seems to be nothing so I soldiered on. But I definitely shed some tears and Feena helped me to do some self reflection. I adore Feena. Another angel on my journey. I have to say goodbye to her tomorrow. 😭 we walked together for most of yesterday. Then we got to this wonderful albergue and we got to share a room with Otto and Linda! I spent the afternoon drinking wine with Otto and chin wagging with Linda with my feet up of course. My feet: blisters are healing/no more to report for a while. Unfortunately I have more bed bug bites so I’m treating and drying my stuff in a dryer. Sigh… it’s not as bad as I thought (I HATE bugs) but they got my thighs and butt cheeks (tmi? Fml!). We had a nice pilgrims meal with the four of us and Frances and David. It was so wonderful to have everyone together. I felt so fortunate. I cried again (of course). Tomorrow BURGOS!! This is a big deal!

Day 17 – Atapuerca to Burgos:

Early morning (7am start) in the dark. I walked with Otto and Linda for a good portion of the day. They said I’m walking faster!! Must mean my feet problems are improving in more ways than one. Up up up as we like to do straight out of the gate to the top. There was the cross and a spiral path constructed with rocks at the top. The terrain up seemed like it must have been lava at one point. Very technical to walk. It was cool and windy which was a nice relief. We walked until coffee (about 6km) and had a wonderful breakfast (tortilla de patata). Onward we trudged and met Sylvan along the way: an emphatic biker who wanted us so desperately to make it to the river. He drew a picture in the gravel and when he left us he kissed me on the cheeks and Linda on the mouth! There’s two routes into Burgos: the industrial way when you walk for 6km through industry or the river way which is longer (some people said a half km others said 3km). We chose the river way. Soooo beautiful. Burgos really does feel like the end of an act-a transition so to speak. I understand there are still 2 acts left. It’s like the whole camino shifts now as we prepare for the meseta. The meseta (from what I understand) is 10-12 days of walking on flat, barren, no shade trail. It’s where people can’t be distracted by the beautiful sights and it’s a time to turn inward and where the deep inner learning takes place. I have chosen to bike this section. It will take me 4 days. Then I’ll have more time hopefully in Leon and Astorga to sight see a little and to heal my feet further. It also means that my bubble of friends will shift as I’ll fast forward in front of them. It’s an interesting feeling to be on your own again doing your own thing. I’m staying one more day in Burgos.

Day 18 – Burgos – REST DAY

I still woke up at 5:30am as the pilgrims still get up then to start their day and it’s hard to sleep past 6 when the lights come on in the municipal albergues. For the 17th time I left my walking sticks behind in the albergue and had to go back and get them. I had a breakfast with bacon, eggs and potatoes!!! I haven’t had a breakfast like this since I left Canada 🇨🇦. Feena and I did a walking tour of the cathedral. This cathedral is immense. And the ceilings are just incredible. The detail each chapel’s relief had is really astounding. You need to see it to appreciate it I think. After that we walked to our next place to sleep. We rented a hotel room for 39€. A pretty good deal. I bought some black garbage bags so I could treat my backpack in case there are any more bed bugs inside. And we sent all the laundry through the washer and dryer (most important part). Then we walked to the bike rental place to secure me a bike for the next 4 days. The bike is 100€ and comes with helmet, paniers, and a lock. Also bungees to secure my backpack to the top of the paniers. Picking it up at 9am today. I’m pretty excited and nervous! Then to have a bite to eat. After that we returned to the hotel… a seista, organized my washing and packed my backpack, chatted with some friends back home and then out for dinner with Otto, Linda and Feena. The food is really starting to be just the same over and over again. My travel bottle I bought from MEC has broken so my shampoo became unusable. So i had to buy travel size shampoo and i couldn’t resist it’s match – travel size conditioner so last night my hair actually felt nourished for the first time in 2.5 weeks. It’s the small things.

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Cheese, wine, Switzerland

It’s good to be back in Switzerland, even if it was just for 3 days.

The idea was for us to come back here, rearrange our stuff, celebrate the 1st of August (Swiss national holiday) and spend some time with friends and family. Exactly what we accomplished.

We arrived by train at the train station where Guy, my father-in-law picked us up. I’ll spare you the broken record: it was hot, morning, day and night.

We dropped our bags, had a wonderful dinner with Luc’s parents, and then Luc, Vivi and Guy headed to the fireworks and I retired to my bed – I thought I was fighting a cold.

The next day was the 1st. We hunted for a box we left in the attic 6 years ago when we lived there for 6 months. After some brou ha ha, Guy found it tucked in a far reaching corner of the attic. It held so many treasures that I had forgotten about: towels, tampons, Christmas cookie cutters, Christmas wrapping, a pair of shoes, a curling iron, books, slippers… it was like a time capsule we got to reopen.

A neighbour to Guy and Camille invited us over to their pool for a swim. This neighbour has a daughter about Vivi’s age who we hope will become great friends with her. Unfortunately she was on holidays still but the pool was incredible to cool off.

Later that night we headed to Jouxtens for sausages, wine, bread, lentils, wine, and lots of friends and connecting – it was the 1st of August and the Swiss national holiday. Vivi made a friend on the play ground. It rained like crazy and thunder and lightening. So cool.

After that, we headed down to the field where there was a MASSIVE bonfire and fireworks. I’ve never been one to really dig fireworks and I find it interesting that it seems like the Swiss (and now I’ve witnessed the French – more on that later) really do enjoy watching the night time spectacle. They light up the sky for what seems like a half an hour. All I can think is “wow this must be so expensive”.

The next day was the 2nd. Time to look at everything we brought: store winter stuff, pack for the Cote D’azure for 3 weeks and the Camino for 40 days. Try not to forget anything. We downsized to a backpack each and one big backpack. Not too bad. Much fighting and arguing ensued for Luc and me.

After that, we headed to a friend’s house for a wonderful lunch. Let me paint the picture: first the lunch was about 4 hours (and I left early to catch up with a friend, my mom, and my daughter). We had some aperitifs under the tree in their backyard: baby tomatoes, crackers, wine. So lovely. Then we moved to the table in their yard where we had a pasta salad and tomatoes with mozzarella and basil as a starter. Then sausages  and green beans – more wine. So delicious and so spoiled. It was beautiful. We moved back to the table under the tree to have bread and 2 different kinds of cheese. I think more wine. Then we had a Turkish drink called Raki that tastes like Ouzo. Then a little tiny delicious coffee. I was a little drunk by the end of that meal to be sure.

It was such a wonderful time catching up with our friends and getting to connect with Luc’s longtime friend’s wife who speaks English. She’s a new friend of mine but I’m so happy to meet her and her two wonderful children.

Since Luc and I have been fighting like cats and dogs, I suggested that we take the opportunity, while we have babysitters, to go out that night on a date and try to reconnect. I wanted to go to Vevey where we lived for 6 months, 6 years ago.

We grabbed his parents car and headed out around 8:30pm taking the lakeside route from Jouxtens to Vevey. Just like how I remembered it.

We got to Vevey as the sun was setting over the lake. I immediately felt like I was home. There is something so special about Vevey for me. I had only been there for about 10 mins when I told Luc I could absolutely move back here in a heart beat.

We ate at our old stomping ground, Pizza Taxi over looking the lake. It was pristine. I couldn’t have asked to be in a better place at that time. It filled up my heart and spirit to soak it all in.

We slowly walked back to the car, I remembered the times we spent here, the different seasons, the snow, the Uno competition, the walks beside the lake pushing Violette in the pousette, visiting the town when it was Christmas, watching the leaves change as I walked Jaedyn to school…it was heaven.

The next morning we woke up and headed to the airport to take off for Antibes. It was weird thinking I wouldn’t be back in Switzerland until October. I’ll come back and the leaves will have started to change, it will be cooler (hopefully), Vivi will have been in school for over a month and things will be different again.

 

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