Fun trivia fact: apparently the surrounding area of Burgos has one of the highest amounts of villages in Spain.
So when I was invited to go along with some of the fellow teachers from the school I work at to walk around some local villages and then eat a local bean dish, of course I said yes. An opportunity to explore a part of Spain perhaps less available to tourists, and to get to know my colleagues outside of the classroom couldn’t go ignored. If I was a decent travel blogger I would have taken note of the village names (one was San Miguel…something or other. Only remembered due to resemblance to name of a beer).
When I say an area lesser known to tourists, I’m completely ignoring the fact that Burgos is part of the Camino de Santiago, and so the places we visited are on the route. But as they are tiny villages they are hardly thought of by those who head to Madrid, Barcelona or Benidorm!
I had a few opportunities to live and teach in a small village in Spain. Although it would be a truly authentic Spanish experience, and my Spanish speaking would come along in leaps and bounds I am glad I am living in a city! These villages are incredibly pretty but definitely suited for day trips!
There was a definite church theme for our visit. I love visiting churches in countries like Spain and Italy: even the smallest of churches are beautifully decorated. Although I’m not religious I can appreciate the serene atmosphere found in places of worship – even if I am scared to make any noises when visiting!
The baptismal font pictured is a medieval artifact, from the 13th century I think! It’s carvings represent the Kingdom of Heaven that will be shown on Judgement Day. The statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus mark the point in the church where the beauty can begin – behind the statue the rooms are apparently bare.
Next we visited a museum that holds information about the local forge and mill – two major forms of economy for the area throughout history. It also had access to where the local priest used to live, and many farming tools!
(Where they used to wash their clothes!)
We then visited the mill which was demonstrated to us how it works. Of course throughout the day all talks in Spanish completely went over my head but my fellow English speaking teachers did their best to translate for me!
After we moved on to a section of the Camino de Santiago. We went up part of the walk to a small church built into the rock! It was incredible to see, and the views were beautiful too. I am so used to seeing Spanish landscape as brown and dry, but here there were green fields and it reminded me a little of England.
Anyways back to the church… The one we visited was built for men, there was another for women but it is now inaccessible. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the church but I assure you it was dainty and beautiful! That’s what is impressive about Spanish churches – no matter how small or frequently visited, their altars are always spectacular pieces of work. Some of the teachers who come from small villages told me their churches altars were the same. They certainly take pride in Catholicism!
Afterwards we went to a hostel that hosts the pilgrims of the walk. It was cosy but modest, and also had a small chapel that we gathered in for a short prayer session (slightly awkward for the non Spanish speaking non believer, but although I hate religious believers forcing their beliefs on others I also hate atheists showing disrespect to the peaceful practice of religion). They also played what sounded to me like Spanish country music, which was slightly bizarre to hear.
Thankfully it was then time to eat – and I was starving! I was told we would be having a local dish that was a type of bean stew. When I was served a plate it reminded me instantly of feijoada – a Brazilian dish that consists of beans and pig meat (depending on the cook this could be anything from normal pork to pig ears!). It was essentially the same – beans with pork, and a chorizo. However although I am not a fan of feijoada because I think Brazilians add far too much salt to the dish (and make it taste of nothing but salt – grim!), I really liked this because it had a lot less salt and I could taste the different flavours. Sadly I took no photos of the food because I couldn’t wait to tuck in, and I’m a firm believer that food should be eaten and enjoyed rather than being photographed. We enjoyed it with appetizers, salad, wine, bread, morcilla (a local black pudding), dessert, coffee and a local digestif that tasted a little like fruity sambuca. Wasn’t quite sure about it… But the rest was delicious, and that combined with the tour and a morning coffee amounted to a very reasonable price. The Spanish certainly do food well!
So yes, quite a jam packed day and resulting blog post! Muchos gracias if you took the time to read all this! I’m quite liking the new picture layout options, quite fun to jazz it up a bit!