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Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago: Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca

Headed to Burgos walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca 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 15 (other posts linked at the end of this post).

Camino Frances Day 15: Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca (approx 19 km)

Steep incline walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comSecond last day walking this stage! It dawned a little bit cloudy and foggy which was totally fine with us as the first stage up to San Juan de Ortega was mostly uphill. We walked through all sorts of different terrains…

Misty paths…

Misty forest walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comPretty, impressionistic-like coloured shrubland…

Pretty colours walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.com Colourful shrubs walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd there was even a dark forest (fortunately we didn’t need to walk through there!)…

Dark forest walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comEventually, though, the climb ended and we reached a lovely rest area where a bunch of other walkers were taking their breakfast.

Rest area walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comThere were even some activities to keep you busy as you recuperated from the early morning climb…

Rest area on the way to SAn Juan de Ortega on the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comNeil and I continued on, it felt too early to stop and we’d already eaten a good breakfast that morning so we didn’t need a rest (yet!)…

Headed to San Juan de Ortega walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhat we thought was the last ascent of the morning landed us at the Monumento de los Caídos:

Monumento de los Caidos walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comA memorial to those who lost their lives during the Spanish Civil War, it also marks the shallow graves of those who were executed. A sobering stop…

After that, the terrain seemed pretty flat (and the weather seemed to be sorting itself out too) and then we saw this in the distance…

Headed up a steep hill walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comUh, really…. We have to climb THAT???

This made us laugh at the bottom of the valley before we began this ascent…

Yea God Boo Devil sign walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd actually by the time we got to the top of the ascent, 1. we realised it wasn’t so bad and 2. the weather had cleared up again!

Near the top of a steep incline walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe finally reached the tiny town of San Juan de Ortega (pop 20)…

San Juan de Ortega walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comWith a classic, older-style small albergue, San Juan de Ortega has been a stop on the Camino since medieval times. With such a small population, this was a town we decided not to stop in which is why we had a shorter walk the day before. We’d been walking for a few hours at this point today so we spent quite a while camped out at the café, enjoying coffee and snacks and chatting with some of our fellow walkers, before heading on in the direction of Atapuerca…

Leaving San Juan de Ortega walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe weather finally seemed to be getting better with some sunny patches visible…

Sunny skies walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comWith Agés in the distance, the sun finally came out for a bit!

Town of Ages walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comAgés is a pretty little town but with a population of just 60, it was not a stop on our walk that day… We pushed on to Atapuerca…

Ages in the distance walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comArriving in Atapuerca walking the Camino de Santiago Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe pre-historic caves of Atapuerca have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the earliest human remains ever discovered in Europe were found here) and, knowing what we knew later in the day, I wish we had stopped to take a look at the site.

We arrived in Atapuerca (pop 200) to find that there had been a mixup with our room at our guest house and our room was not available. Um, ok… We contacted Wiktoria at the Camino Travel Center who gave us a few options and we ended up getting a taxi to Burgos for the night. WHAT?  A taxi on the Camino? Well, we needed somewhere to sleep and the towns prior were not options at this late stage in the day. Plus, the first thing we did was make sure the taxi could bring us back to Atapuerca the next day so we could do the  final day’s walk… Camio Travel Center handles the details seamlessly and soon we were in our hotel in Burgos…

Burgos cathedral walking the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comAfter a few days in tiny towns, it was very exciting to be in a big city but we knew we still had 20+km of walking the following day to do, so tried not to go overboard in terms of “sightseeing” in the big town!

We did, however, manage to find a gem of a pintxos bar, La Favorita

Wine list at La Favorita in Burgos Burgos cathedral walking the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comHome to this, pán cristal (aka tomato bread and possibly the biggest revelation, food-wise, of this trip!)

Pan cristal at La Favorita in Burgos Burgos cathedral walking the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comCrunchy shards of bread with flavourful olive oil and the tomatoes (more like tomato water) smeared on top, this was heavenly…

La Favorita in Burgos walking the Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comWith one more day of walking ahead of us, we didn’t want to get too carried away but we did make a note of the address for the next night!

This was a relatively easy leg in terms of the walking with some interesting places to stop along the way (San Juan de Ortega, Agés). Atapuerca looked interesting (especially the prehistoric site) and I wish we’d have had more time there. At the end of the day, the walk had to take precedence though and Camino Travel Center handled the room mixup issue very smoothly and professionally for which we were extremely grateful.

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Disclosure: I researched Camino trips independently and chose the Camino Travel Centerfollow 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!).

Read more about the Camino de Santiago

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