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Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago: Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Walking from Najera to Santo Domingo e la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comThose of you who follow me on Instagram will know that this summer, I spent 7 days walking around 120km along the Camino de Santiago, from Logroño to Burgos in Spain. This was the second leg of the Camino that I started in 2016 (if you’re interested, I wrote a Q&A post in response to some of the questions people had asked me along the way). This is Part 12 (other posts linked at the end of this post).

Leaving Najera on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comCamino Frances Day 12: Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada (approx 22km)

Our first “long” day in this year’s leg of the Camino dawned bright and sunny…

Blue skies leaving Najera on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe guide book warned that “there is little shade and few drinking fonts” which sounded ominous, especially as it was already pretty hot around 8am when we started walking…

Long shadows leaving Najera on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comYup, nothing but blue skies as far as the eye could see…

Blue skies and hot weather on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comAround 9.30, we arrived in Azofra, a tiny (pop: 250) town and really the only place to stop on this leg (which is a bit inconvenient when you have basically just started your day…). So cute, we had to stop…

Colourful balconies in Azofra on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comInside the bar, I spotted this…

And it seemed like a great idea. You know, being 9.30am and all!

Drinking Cerveza con Limon in Azofra on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comThis became “our drink” for the remainder of this leg of the Camino. Seems we were often stopping around 9.30 and this really hit the spot! Meanwhile, Azofra was so pretty all I wanted to do was wander around and take photos…

Doorway in Azofra on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comBut no, there was still about 15km to go so we plodded on…

Random 2CV leaving Azofra on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe weren’t sure what was happening with the random 2CV sighting in the middle of the field but noone offered to give us a lift, so we moved on…

Approaching Cirueña, there was a welcome sight…

Welcome sight on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com(smart guy – he had set up camp near a water fountain and a small park. Never mind that the town was within spitting distance, every single group stopped here for a cold drink!)

On the way to Ciruena on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comSooooo… close to our destination, we didn’t stop here (it was so hot we just needed to not be in the sun anymore…) though we DID end up inadvertently doing an “Opción” (i.e. an extra 1.5km) though we were sure we followed the book. Ended up walking through a brand new housing development. It was odd and I was cross, who wants an extra 1.5 km added on to an already long day?

Hot weather walking on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com Miles to go on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comDoesn’t look like there’s a city in sight, does it? When the landscape looks like this, there’s only one thing to do…

Google maps check on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com(LOL at how we are *just* 12 minutes away by car!)

Finally, Santo Domingo de la Calzada showed up on the horizon…

Santo Domingo de la Calzada in sight on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comThis was a hot afternoon walking in the sun but eventually, we stumbled into…

Welcome to Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhere we immediately headed to the hotel for some much needed rest.

Later on we ventured out in search of ice cream and found a LOT of Santo Domingo-themed souvenirs we didn’t have space to carry…

Souvenir plates in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhat’s with all the rooster-themed stuff?

Rooster shaped pastries in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comEven the snacks are rooster-shaped!

The town is named for Saint Dominic who dedicated his life to bettering the Camino for pilgrims, building roads (calzadas). He built the pilgrim hostel (now a fancy hospital, a Parador) and the church which later evolved into the Cathedral. It’s said he intervened to save the life of a man walking the Camino with his parents, framed for theft because he refused the advances of the innkeeper’s daughter. He was condemned to hang and his parents continued on their way (!) returning some weeks later to find him hanging but alive, apparently thanks to the intervention of Saint Dominic. They rushed to the sheriff’s home to alert him to this fact and the sheriff, about to sit down to dinner, told them that their son was no more alive than the rooster they were about to enjoy, at which point, the rooster stood up from the dish and crowed loudly! The young man was eventually given a full pardon and the legend is reflected all over town in souvenir shops (and bakeries!).

View from church tower in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comThere is a live rooster and a hen housed in the Cathedral (very high up in a dark corner, so difficult to photograph).

We enjoyed a stroll around the town and when it was time for dinner, we couldn’t find anywhere with a pilgrim menu that looked appealing (there were actually a number of places that looked good but there was some sort of religious gathering with loud chanting and singing that was just too much for these two tired pilgrim walkers to deal with – we needed quiet and perhaps a little aircon…)

We stumbled across Los Caballeros where we were just about to head back and eat at the hotel and took a chance, even though it looked much fancier than we were used to. On the spur of the moment, we decided that this could be a “splurge”.

Jamon at Restaurant Los Caballeros in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comJamón to start (obviously)…

Beautiful plating at Restaurant Los Caballeros in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comGorgeous plating (this was a simple grilled fish with a ratatouille-type side)…

Fancy dessert at Restaurant Los Caballeros in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comThis was an orange sorbet with shaved chocolate, peanuts, cake croutons and whipped cream. Odd but oddly delicious!

This place is definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in Santo Domingo and need something a little different than a pilgrim menu. They also have a “pub” section with more traditional tapas but that didn’t seem to be open. In any case, the calm and aircon, along with the excellent service (even for two slightly grubby-looking pilgrims!) was worth a little splurge.

Verdict on this day? I’d start as early as you can if you are walking in the summer. And don’t forget to stop for a cervza con limón!

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Disclosure: I researched Camino trips independently and chose the Camino Travel Center based on a number of features such as flexibility to accommodate a couple of “splits” in some of the longer days, price and customer service. They were, in fact the first company I came across in my very first Google search and the one I ended up booking with. From the initial inquiry to the actual trips, they have been a pleasure to deal with and we have been very impressed with the service provided (bag transportation) and the accommodation choices. I was not compensated to write about this trip in any way but I love sharing companies and products I believe in with my readers. I couldn’t recommend the Camino Travel Center more and, in fact, am booking another Camino walk with them for next summer (and every summer until I reach Santiago!).

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