To reach Burgos from the port at Bilbao, one needs to take the A8, then the AP68, then finally turning to the AP1. The road is a dual-carriageway toll motorway with several service stations along its route. Drivers take a ticket shortly after the start of the motorway and payment is made by cash or card at the exit. The final peage is situated just before the exit for the Burgos campsite. For the 100 mile tow, the toll charge was €21. 50
Fuentes Blancas at Burgos is a popular site used mainly as an overnight stop-over on longer journeys. But there are sufficient places of interest around to warrant a stay for two or three days. At the site, the pitches are laid out on either side of three parallel roads through the camp. Close to reception are the caravans and bungalows which are semi-permanent. Further through the site are pitches for tourers and motorvans. Open air sink units are situated every 100 yards or so but in the winter, the water is turned off because of freezing. Similarly with the electric bollards. They are placed every 50 yards. The electrical connections are of the two-pin continental type, which are showing their age. During the winter months, two of the four toilet blocks are open – one is heated, one is not. Both are clean and functioning with hot water in sinks and showers. From past experience, I know the pitches tend to become water-logged during periods of heavy rain. As it was raining when I arrived, I reversed the caravan on to the pitch ensuring that my front drive wheels stayed on the roadway before unhitching.
The site has a good internet connection which is free to log on to. Login details are available at reception. The ASCI discount card is also accepted.
By Thursday evening the rain was back again and continued through the night and into the next morning. But by lunchtime, it had stopped and the sky was clearing so I got into the car and headed off to Burgos. On the road leading to Fuentes Blancas, there’s a turning which is signposted “Monastery of our Lady of Miraflores”. I decided to explore, so I turned off and drove to the top of the hill. The gatehouse was open with a few visitors coming and going. I joined them. The building is home to monks of the Carthusian Order, and this monastery was founded in 1442 by King Juan II of Castille & Leon. Carthusian monks wear an oatmeal coloured habit and hood. But none of them was to be seen, because they live a life of silence and solitude, with each monk living in his own cell. The first service of the day begins at midnight, followed by eight others throughout the day. Carthusian monks are only allowed two visits per year by members of their immediate family. The French members of the Order are the producers of the cocktail ingredient, Green Chartreuse.
Once through the gatehouse, there is a small area with cloisters on two sides. On the third side is the church with the coats of arms of King Juan and Castille over the arched doorway.
Like all religious houses in Spain, this one is highly ornate with gold leaf decoration everywhere.
However, it is to the wood that my eye is always drawn. Here there is wood carving in abundance.
Two banks of choir stalls are arranged down either side of the chancel. They are all intricately carved from walnut and were completed in the 1550’s. In a side chapel, three sides of the room are taken up with massive chests of drawers containing vestments and altar frontals.
These too were constructed in the 16thC using walnut.
Saturday looked to be a promising day so I packed some lunch and set off back towards Santander, but by the old N-623 road. On a forum recently – maybe the C&CC – someone asked about towing on this road. Well yes! it’s possible, but there are several hilly, multiple S-bends on the route, so why would anyone want to when the toll-free A67 is just 15 or so miles to the west. However, I was on it because I wanted to visit the medieval village of Orbaneja del Castillo. The village was built during the Moorish occupation of Spain and the thing that makes it unique is that it’s built into the side of the Ebro Gorge. In the cliff, towering above the village is a cave from which spring water flows. The water runs into a culvert through the village, then cascades down the cliff face before reaching the river in the bottom of the gorge. .
On the way back to Burgos I detoured slightly to stop in the village of Vivar. It was in this village where the Spanish hero, El Cid was born. At the centre of the village is a rather neglected memorial to him.
Time to move on tomorrow.
To be continued. ........ To see this blog with several more pictures go to https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/