Wandering in Burgos, Spain

Yesterday we finally ventured out of Logroño to Burgos–our first time in Castilla y León. It’s about a two hour bus ride. On our way I stared out the window watching for signs and postings marking the Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrimage that Jay and I have decided we have to do before we leave Spain. The city of Burgos itself has about 180,000 people and is full of historic landmarks. The most important is the cathedral, followed by many other churches, arches, and statues.

It was very chilly, but perfectly sunny. We were happy to spend the day sight-seeing! When we arrived we headed directly to the cathedral in the heart of the city center–it’s impossible to miss because its peaks raise higher than any of the other buildings.The entrance to the historic center is really beautiful. You must cross a bridge over the Arlanzón river to reach the Arco de Santa María, one of the main entry points. The outside is surrounded by the Paseo de Espolón which is lined with small parks, beautifully molded trees, and a Christmas market when we went.

We hit the main sights: the cathedral of Burgos, the Arcos. the Church of San Esteban, the castle, and the staute of El Cid. El Cid Campeador is a famous Castilian military leader who was raised in Burgos, and there are statues and tributes to him everywhere. We also squeezed in the four-story Museum of Human Evolution, based on the Atapuerca archaeological findings, a Spanish UNESCO World Heritage site. Burgos was named “Spain’s Gastronomical Capital of 2013.” and although I’ve seen a similar claim in a few cities already, the food was pretty great! We tried morcilla (blood sausage), which is famous in that province, and patatas bravas for lunch, and later that evening Jay and I had a pinxto of steak, goat cheese, and carmelized onions… deliciousness.

Matt and Kristen headed back to Logroño for a couple’s dinner mid-afternoon, but Jay and I opted to stay longer and keep wandering the city. It’s a lot bigger than we had expected, and we had only seen half by that point. We stopped for our favorite churros at Valor and made it out just in time for a beautiful sunset. I loved how hilly Burgos was… hills mean great views of the countryside and winding, Spanish streets. Once it got dark the city Christmas lights came on, and we both enjoyed just relaxing and exploring a new city. Excuse me while I nerd out for a minute–one of our favorite finds was ruins topped by a stork’s nest! Jay and I have just recently heard the story of the storks that migrate through Spain and have been spotting their nests all over Logroño.

After strolling through the Christmas market again, we headed back to the bus station. On the way back we took a new route and passed through another arch in the city walls into a pretty, more modern part of the city that we had no clue was there (or didn’t consider was so close). That day I realized how much a part of me has changed. As a pro-planner, I love to maximize my time and accomplish to-do lists. Jay is not that way. He likes being spontaneous and dealing with things when they come up, and although I sometimes hate how laid-back he is… I can see how it is important in some aspects. **Not to say I’m not spontaneous or adventurous, I just like to make the most of a situation I’m in and sometimes that could include rushing through a day and missing “moments.”

Before we arrived in Spain I had a long “bucket list” created while counting down the days ’til I was done with work and we were here of what to enjoy and what I wanted to see. I wanted to get settled ASAP and then start exploring as much as I could before our time here was up. I never had any direct intention of visiting Burgos. When we both chose to stay there later even though we had no immediate plans besides wandering around, I realized that I’ve started to adapt the Spanish lifestyle of enjoying small moments and dragging out a time of relaxation. It’s a refreshing outlook on life. Jay and I are both so lucky to enjoy the privilege of having relaxing time to drag out, and I want to relish it.

Tomorrow, the four of us are leaving for Belgium. We have four nights in Brussels, Ghent, and Bruges before we head for Germany. I hope Jay and I can keep our calm, open-minded attitudes while we explore these new countries! We have special plans to watch fireworks over the river in Ghent at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and I have a shout out to my dad who’s birthday is that day. I will be thinking of you! Happy early Birthday. I love you so much. Thank you for supporting me while I try to make the most of this opportunity. Muah!