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  • Writer's pictureJamie Clark

Buen Camino

Updated: Mar 26

Walking 121.75KM from Logroño to Burgos along El Camino de Santiago.

Photo gallery at end of article | shot on a Konica z-UP 60 camera


In the late afternoon, I reached my accommodation in Logroño. After unpacking my bag to re-evaluate my belongings, I made a quick trip to the supermarket to stock up on snacks for the following day, unsure of what to expect.

As I settled into bed, I reached over to the side table to set my alarm for 6:30 AM. I thought to myself "let's get a head start on the day; I'll be out of here before everyone".

I fell asleep.

At 5:30 AM, the entire building started to shake with a chorus of alarm clocks from fellow guests. The echoes of the ensuing commotion reverberated throughout. Pilgrims hurriedly zipped up their bags, swiftly downed their coffee, brushed their teeth, and clicked on their head torches — and out.

"Well, 5:30 AM it is then", I said to myself.

Playing catch up, I too prepared my things at a speedy pace, and attempted to be out of the building as quickly as possible.

As I departed Logroño, it became apparent who was on 'El Camino' and who had just returned from a festive night out. Although my usual inclination might have been to join the party-goers, this time, I found myself following those with large backpacks and hiking sticks.

In the first minutes, after setting out, I stumbled upon a group of pilgrims who appeared friendly. The first to extend a greeting was a German girl called Rodri, who was walking among a larger group that included a family from the Gold Coast. On a dark and quiet trail at 5:30 AM on my first day, the sound of an Aussie accent was welcomed.

We swiftly navigated the trail, and as the sun ascended, the landscape of mountains and vineyards gradually unfolded before our eyes. It was beautiful, and I immediately felt invigorated by the Camino's fabled energy.

Sunrise leaving Logroño
Sunrise leaving Logroño

The first day proved to be quite a bit lengthier than the subsequent ones I had planned for my week on the Camino. To reach La Nájera, the town where I had planned to spend the night, I had to cover a distance of 28.27KM, and I was uncertain about the terrain.

I was trying to take minimal rest breaks to make progress in my journey. I was fortunate that I was greeted by these mountain backdrops and a beautiful 23º degree day.

On the way to La Nájera
On the way to La Nájera

As I walked, passing cars, cyclists, and pedestrians all greeted me with 'Buen (Good) Camino', as did the residents of the villages we entered. It felt as though we were a sports team, and the locals were our enthusiastic fans, cheering us on. As we entered La Nájera, a table of fellow pilgrims - sitting at a bar, simultaneously stretching and consuming their beverages were clapping those arriving into the town.

During the day, I heard whispers of the competitiveness to get accomodation in some towns. So, I called a few hours prior to arriving and booked a nice albeurge.

These towns were well-equipped to cater to travellers covering long distances on foot. Several cafes offered an economical and nourishing "menu del dia." I selected one of them at random, settled in with my book, and felt an overwhelming sense of contentment knowing I had successfully completed the first day of my journey.


It was 5:30 AM, and this time it was my alarm that had gone off first.

Since I had already packed everything the night before, I simply brushed my teeth and headed out immediately.

What it looks like to walk in the dark

I aimed to position myself close to fellow pilgrims, as a safety instinct. This was because, in the mountains at that hour, it was pitch black and quiet, and, for me, it felt a bit too quiet.

As the sun rose behind the clouds, I started recognising familiar faces along the Camino. The atmosphere there was unlike any other; people exchanged smiles that made you feel like you knew them, even if you'd never spoken before. The social connection was truly unique, a powerful and authentic human experience that I had never encountered before. Conversations flowed effortlessly, and there was no pressure to engage with people — but also no fear of rejection when you tried to connect with others.

My objective for today was 20.93 km, which would take me to Santo Domingo de La Calzada.

That morning was one of my more social ones; I met a young Geography student from Germany, and later, a group of three girls from Germany, Austria, and Slovakia. They had also just met on the Camino. I would estimate that 90% of pilgrims were traveling solo, and I believe that this added to the flair of the experience.

Following a rather long first day, I found myself energised and ready to conquer a modest 21KM. I arrived early into the town, and I decided to stay at the public albergue.

Public albergues, typically located adjacent to the local church in the villages, are often large rooms capable of accomodating of up to 50 people. However, the quality of these lodgings can vary significantly. While some albergues are well-maintained and semi-modern, others may not meet the same standards. And as a pilgrim with little accommodation options, there's nothing you can really do about it.

Piggybacking off the various encounters I had during the day, I met friends for a menu del dia. This transitioned to dinner where we dined in what looked like the living room of a family home. The size of the space was notable, yet the decor and family photos hinted that this may be a multi-purpose venue.

I was curious to ask the wait staff if this was also their living room, but I resisted.


The challenge with sleeping in these large albergues is if you are in a room with 50 people, there is a high probability that at least one will be a snorer. And given the acoustics of the room, even a single snorer is audible. Imagine when there are multiple snorers.

There were snorers. And despite my weariness and fatigue, I embarked on the next leg of the journey with a smile and eagerness to press on.

As I left the town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, I found myself alone with only distant torchlight visible along the track. Eager to catch up, I quickened my pace. Crossing the last bridge to access the track, a wild boar suddenly emerged from the bushes — large and disoriented. Our eyes locked, and in that moment, uncertainty lingered about whether it might pose a threat. Just 10 seconds passed, but it felt like an eternity that we stood there. Eventually, the boar retreated into the bushes, allowing me to hurry past.

I converted the adrenaline of the encounter into rapid progress. It was on this day that I truly felt into the swing of things, and decided I would walk more, and not settle in the biggest town, but rather go until I felt tired.

I engaged in some memorable conversations, particularly with a couple from Germany aged 77 and 74. They had been together since the ages of 20 and 17, respectively. In their broken English, they warmly recounted their honeymoon in Mexico that took place over 50 years ago, and we joked about the depth of their knowledge of each other. Observing their body language — intimate gestures, mutual support during breaks, and unspoken patience — it was truly remarkable. A true partnership.

El Camino
El Camino

I cruised down the trail and reached the town of Belorado by approximately 1:00 PM. Still brimming with energy, I opted for a menu del dia, and then decided to cover an additional 5KM to reach Tosantos, a place with virtually nothing but two albergues and a church. Not a single restaurant was in sight, so all pilgrims gathered in the albergue for their dinner. It had a spacious and vibrant garden, and although sat at different tables, we all engaged in lively conversations, creating a cheerful dinner atmosphere.

... and then came the symphony of snoring and sleep talkers. Sleep eluded me entirely that night. The snorers coupled with one individual grappling with a nightmare through their sleep talk, disturbed everyone in the room minus those who had noise-canceling headphones. It was a scene of chaos, marked by the audible rustling of sheets as people manoeuvred their bed to try find some rest.


People gave up trying to sleep early on, and so many pilgrims set out earlier than usual.

Feeling slightly traumatised from the previous morning encountering the wild bore, I decided to hold back and wait for somebody to start the day.

And then I met somebody who would turn out to become a friend.

Born in Lithuania but having spent most of her adult life abroad, our conversations felt like intellectual sparring matches, rapidly exchanging ideas and philosophies on life. We discovered more common ground than differences, and on those points of misalignment, we spent ages critiquing and debating.

We walked and talked up until around 10 AM — which, at this point, was five hours into the day. This also included a lengthy conversation with an ex-US Army member who had recently retired. His insights into life in the Army was both riveting and poignant.

As the drizzle turned into a downpour, I draped a garbage bag over my backpack for protection. Seeking refuge, I ran into a nearby cafe, joined by several other pilgrims. Amidst smiling faces, warm conversations, and supportive messages for those braving the rain again, the camaraderie inside the cafe lifted our spirits.

For the remainder of the day, I walked alone. I arrived to the town of Atapuerca at around 1:00 PM and set up in a lovely albergue. Having a nicer room shared by only four people was welcomed after the previous nights struggle.

At this stage, I had made a group of friends, and coincidently, they all arrived at different times into Atapuerca. One bloke from the US suggested we go on a tour of the nearby caves, and the rest all followed.

The bus to the caves was set to depart at 4:30 PM, so I strategically set my alarm for 4:15 PM to wake up from my nap. But, I overslept and only woke up to the time reading 4:35 PM. I rushed out, and made my way to the bus stop, hoping I could still catch it. Fortunately, as I arrived, the bus pulled up, and we all boarded, and headed to the caves.

Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
Archaeological Site of Atapuerca

We returned to Atapuerca by 8:00 PM, enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant, played a round of cards, and then called it a night.


With Burgos only 20.1KM away, there was a relaxed atmosphere within the group. I, too, felt at ease, knowing that Burgos was my final destination.

We took more frequent and extended breaks. The first stop was at a cafe adjacent to a field of sunflowers. With the sun rising, it was clear that the pilgrims were enjoying life's simple pleasures: good coffee and fresh air.

The route into Burgos isn't particularly scenic, unless you have a keen interest in airports, highways, and factories. However, for the rest of us, we actively veered off the Camino to follow a path along a nearby river, preserving our connection to nature.

Descending into Burgos, it became apparent that the social dynamics were different. Greetings to those who passed by went unanswered, smiles disappeared, and people seemed to be in a hurry. We were back in a city, and even I, who had spent just under a week in nature, felt discombobulated.

All the pilgrims stuck out like a sore thumb. Within the the Camino community, we continued to greet each other on the streets defying the social norms of the city.

By coincidence, I ran into other friends I had made in earlier days. I spent the afternoon in Burgos enjoying some conversations over coffee, and then concluded the evening at a lively bar on La Calle San Lorenzo, a bustling street. At the bar, we were about 30 from the Camino — a big turnout. While the Camino can be a solitary exercise, it was clear too that people had an appetite for social interaction.

The week I spent felt like the bare minimum required for a complete immersion. Another advantage of my limited time was avoiding injuries. Many pilgrims, after three weeks of walking, were covered in blisters and complained of aching. Completing the Camino from start to finish demands a certain level of physical and mental discipline.


In just my short week on the Camino. I felt the magic. I encourage you to go feel it for yourself.



Photos shot on a Konica z-UP 60 camera

Buen Camino.


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