Days 4 and 5-Burgos, La Picas de Europa, Pamplona and Borja

Days 4 and 5-Burgos, La Picas de Europa, Pamplona and Borja

We headed out towards the town of Burgos early in the morning since it was almost 3 hours away. We decided to head out to the furthest place away and backtrack through what we could get through by the end of the day.

Burgos has a huge cathedral that I wanted to see. You can’t throw a rock in Spain without hitting a church but some of these city cathedrals are just amazing feats of engineering and so pretty. We arrived to the cathedral during mass so there was a full choir filling the entire place with a somewhat haunting Latin chant.

Burgos has an amazing green space with a pedestrian street running along the river.

The first thing we passed through was the Arco de Santa Maria, an original city gate from the 1500s.

The cathedral held the coffer of El Cid, a military leader and national hero responsible for many battle wins in his time around 1100AD, but mostly just a local legend these days. He’s also a key figure featured in the arch we walked through into town. The coffer supposedly held all the gold of El Cid, which he used to back money transactions, but according to legend, it was really just full of sand.

I know I type this every post….but there are so many stairs in Europe. Haha

At least the stairs usually lead to amazing vantage points.

We left city center and headed to the outskirts of Burgos where were made it to the Miraflores Charterhouse 10 minutes before closing- just enough time to run in and see the inside. I was really interested in this cathedral because the altarpiece was made with the first shipment of gold that came back to Spain from the Americans. I’m not sure why I really wanted to see it, but something about it seemed so tangible that this gold gilded onto this altar was brought back from the Americas as proof of the riches awaiting men in this New World.

 

After leaving  Burgos, we took the scenic route back to our apartment though about 3-4 hours of national parks and small towns. We camera lens is super wide angle… so I can fit all of the mountains and cliffs into the frame, which gives the illusion that these aren’t really that big… but these are massive!

At one point, near Los Picos de Europa, We literally drove through a crack in the rock. It was crazy.

At one point, we came into a small village where some people were herding some cows (terribly) across the road into another field. Long story short: we got hit by a cow. haha

The idiots couldn’t get it together, they didn’t have the gates open…no one knew where they were sending the cows…. I was videotaping the cows coming at us and we were laughing when one brushed by the car… but then we got all backed up against the rear end and BOOM, the herd just kinda started got spooked and one cow gave us a pretty big hit from the back resulting in a broken taillight cover. Ooops. lol I hope that doesn’t cost us an arm and a leg when we turn it back in.

Very near our apartment were the Huellas de Dinosaurios or Dinosaur Footprints. Just like when we were on the isle of Skye in Scotland, a bedding plane on the beach had been eroded enough to show the remnants of dinosaur footprints. Except these were Brontosaurus prints! REAL dinosaur stuff 🙂

Norah laid down in the print for scale. haha

We went back to the town of Tazones for dinner again, but we knew that the restaurant from last night would be closed for the day, so we tried another. It was a cider bar… a drink very popular in this area. Up here along the coast, it’s overcast and rainy enough that grapevines don’t do so well, so they’ve always grown apples. They’ve been making this cider since 100 BC. What makes it so cool is that they only use the natural yeasts in the apples. They always pour the first drink from above the head to allow it to aerate and mix in the glass. You are supposed to drink it before the cloudiness resolves.  It was like a mix of a sour beer and a weak apple juice. Very sour, not too sweet…. very drinkable. But one of us had to drive, so I have a small amount and Kegan had two bottles. haha

 

We had calamari and paella and we weren’t totally impressed…. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t seek it out again. I’m still thinking about the seafood from La Playa the day before and scheming on how I can have that again.

Day 5

I’m tacking Day 5 onto this post because there really isn’t enough to justify a whole new posting. Today was just a day to get from the north coast of Spain over to the Costa Brava on the east coast. We got caught in construction and city traffic outside of Bilboa for a couple of hours in the morning, so our first stop was Pamplona in the afternoon. Pamplona is known for the “running of the bulls”, a traditional part of the festival of St. Gemin every July (just missed it by a couple weeks!) for over 250 years, 6 bulls and 6 oxen are chased and lead through the streets of Pamplona, chasing people who have decided to run with the bulls in front of them all the way to the arena where the bulls will be killed by bullfighters that day.

Bullfighting is such a barbaric blood sport… I really have no interest in it…it is even illegal in parts of Spain now, so I think it is definitely a dying tradition. There are variations that are more humane… some areas have a variation where a flare is attached to each horn and the bullfighter tries to grab it. Another is where the matador just uses acrobatics to evade the bull, but doesn’t actually stab it with spears enough for it to sever the tendons in its neck and bleed out.

We just made a quick stop to see the town square and the statue for the running of the bulls.

We drove on through the “Arizona” of Spain… passing little villages and scenery.

 

We arrived at the village of Borja…a tiny village no one would pay much attention to if it wasn’t for a little old lady and the power of social media. Cecelia Jimenez was an 83 year old widow and amatuer painter who did some work around the church in the village. She had asked permission from the priest to do some restoration of the painting Ecce Homo from Spanish artist, Elias Garcia Martinez. She has been touching up some edges for a few years, but the time had come for the picture to get some major touch up work done… and well… lets just say things got out of hand. What resulted is what would be forever known to the world…as “Beast Jesus”.

The “restoration” was so terrible that it immediately went viral. haha  People all over the world were looking at this “priceless” painting that had been completely ruined. The poor lady said she couldn’t even eat for days after she found out people were so upset and that so many people knew about her attempt.

But… all’s well that ends well. Beast Jesus put Borja on the map… they now get over 150,000 visitors a year coming to look at Beast Jesus and they charge 2 euro a head… that cash income has resulted in restaurants, an arts center and other local programs and Cecilia is now a local hero of sorts. The painting that saved a town. Because of that, I just had to see this thing for myself and add our 6 euro to the Borja coffers.  The church is actually REALLY pretty! and the town was adorable with a scenic vista, a cute little cafe and everyone was very nice. It really should have been on the tourist track before Beast Jesus…but I’m glad it is now.

After that I had a conference call for work I couldn’t miss (even on vacation.) So Kegan and Norah walked around and played on the play equipment for a while.

We ended in a little town along the interstate (a tolled interstate by the way that cost us almost $60 to drive on!! Highway robbery… literally!) that was just a roadside hotel/spa and we had McDonalds for dinner because Norah sometimes has to get what she wants, too 🙂

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