Day 21 – A rough day at the Office

I walked into an albergue at the end of today's walk out of Leon – I think I've walked about 27kms today – and a Canadian bloke who had already arrived took one look at me and said: Rough day at the office, hey?

It's funny him saying that, because that's exactly what I was going to write my blog about today – that if the Camino is a metaphor for your journey through life, then today I went to work. And it was tedious.

My pics today are purposefully dour – I just wanted to show that the Camino isn't all rolling hills or mesmeric Meseta – there are also sections that are industrial, commercial, beside noisy highways, and are generally very taxing on the nerves and for me, at any rate, my personal aesthetic.

But then again, I can find beauty and wonder in the grubbiest of environs.

What made today rough though was the rain – it rained non stop – and it was cold. I noticed at 9:30am that the temperature on an electronic read out was 3 degrees C. Later, it dropped down to 1.5C

I stuffed up, too. There are two routes out of Leon – a scenic route and a route that follows the highway. I missed the markers for the scenic route, so I copped the highway, with all the noise and trucks and billboards and industrial zones.

So once again, it's my own damn stupid fault.

But this notion of today being a work day fascinated me as I walked. I thought; That is life. There are days when you have to go to work and it’s tedious. It's a grind. It's unpleasant. But you have to put your head down and do it.

That's the camino, too.

That was today.

My rest day in Leon yesterday was great. It's such a beautiful city. Last night I bumped into some young 'uns who I've seen regularly over the past 3 weeks or so. They were all sitting in a bar near the cathedral, and I went in and we chatted.

It turns out that they'd caught a bus into Leon. They didn't want to do the long boring walk into the city. But a few of them were feeling a little sensitive about it. A little guilty. They'd been labelled “cheaters” by a couple of the others. (All in good spirits)

I spoke to one bloke who had fobbed it off, saying that it didn't affect his experience of the Camino. If anything it gave him more time in Leon. (To sit in a bar…)

I remember the day I walked into Burgos, and being open to the possibility of a bus. The last 10kms into Burgos was notoriously unpleasant, beside the highway. And that was when i was in serious pain. As I said at the time, if a bus pulled up beside me, and the doors swished open, and the driver leaned over and smiled genially and said to me: “Pilgrim. Burgos. One euro.” Do you think I wouldn't have got on that bus?

But Ivan the Terrible and his wife Giovanna appeared like Botticelli angels and spirited me through the parklands into the centre of Burgos, and so a bus never became an option.

And now, almost two thirds of the way through, I won't consider a bus or taxi or backpack transport service. I've come this far – I'm going to do the whole thing on foot, carrying my backpack, every inch of the way.

As for the young 'uns, I won't name them for fear of reprisal. But they read this blog and they know who they are.


Ha ha.



25 thoughts on “Day 21 – A rough day at the Office

    • Thanks Nancy. I must admit, I’m getting a real kick out of taking these pics each day. It helps me see the Camino with a whole different perspective. Bill


  1. Thank you for the image of the bell tower – wasn’t that alone worth the other dreary images? So good to know it isn’t all rolling hills. Never edit it – keep the rough cut coming.


    • Ha ha – that’s a five stork town, that one! I love the blue door and the red bricks. The different textures. This place is full of wonderful visuals.

      Much love, Bill


  2. Bill – still loving your posts – words & photos. I’m heading from Toronto to Paris in 2 days and will start my Camino on May 8th. I’m wondering if you could help me with a nagging question: I want to take my clunky DSLR with telephoto lens, but I’m worried about carrying/storing it all the time – any thoughts? What are you using – cause I adore your photography!!!!



    • Hi Angela, check my What I’m Taking section of the website – it explains my camera. It’s a little Fujifilm x10. It’s light and fully manual, and I love it. However in retrospect I should have bought a Nikon D3200 with the 16-85mm lens. Good lens optically, and the Nikon, whilst it’s an entry level DSLR, has a terrific sensor, and is small and light.

      I see people, not many, with DSLRs using a Lowepro pouch slung around their chest – it seems to work well.

      In the end, it comes down to what’s important to you. If photography is important, then you’ll sacrifice weight elsewhere, or you’ll suffer the extra kilo or so.

      Also, as you know, it’s not the camera, it’s the eye and skill of the photographer that’s ultimately what counts.

      Hope that helps! Bill


    • I took a DSLR last year and did not regret it in the slightest. It was the one guilty pleasure I allowed myself, amd my backpack still only weighed 6kgs.


  3. Wondering how to find the way to Burgos you took with Ivan and his wife. I wish you the best and I continue reading your post. Very informative and is helping me to plan my camino. 1/3 left! Awesome!


    • Hi Ariam, I could never find it again. Evidently some enterprising bar owners have painted yellow arrows away from the designated path to direct pilgrims to their establishments, and then they get lost.



  4. Just wanted to acknowledge that I am still reading and enjoying! Thank you so much for sharing! Oh, the pictures today were great but if I had to chose one…the BLUE DOOR!! Travel mercies!!


    • I love that shot too. Took it in the rain, risking my camera getting soaked, bit it was worth it! Bill


  5. This post is worth just as much, if not more than the others. Life is gritty and not necessarily what we would like at times. But you still kept your eye open for the joy. I can’t wait to do my Camino in August and September.


  6. Bill , some days are diamonds , some are just pearls … it is tough to keep morale high all the time … especially when you are travelling alone so much. remember Katz in Bill Brysons book .!! well done r


  7. Hiya Bill..
    Wondering if I could ask a question about your rest day.
    Has it stopped the flow that you seemed to be having before you stopped…or enhanced it?
    How did you body feel when you set out today and started walking again?

    Hope you don’t mind me asking :0)

    I loved the 5 stork town photo as well.



    • Funny you should ask that Abbey, because sometimes rest days can be counterproductive. I felt very sore and tender coming out of Leon, but remember in the three days leading up to Leon, I’d walked 41kms, then 19kms, then 39kms. That’s 99kms in three days. So maybe it’s no wonder I was tender.

      And yes, the five stork town shot was a cracker, hey?


  8. Hello Bill, I love your posts. We had the same experience of rain and wind as we left Leon – and I recognised that grey fence to the left! Regarding the bus – the wisest words I overheard from a peregrino (much younger than myself), was that it is not possible to cheat on your own camino. I did take the bus a couple of times – the first time I shielded my face in shame as the bus driver came down to open the luggage compartment – and I was amazed to see lots of backpacks already there! And I must say, as I sat in the bus, I thought “Oh yes, this is the world I used to live in”. The bus took 7 minutes, my husband took 2 hours to walk. It was a good reminder of just what the camino was all about.
    Buen camino,


  9. Hi,
    I am glad that found your blog! You write funny but so truly and personally. It provides an excellent starting point for my own training to the Camino.
    I hope that the Camino is going well until the end.


  10. wife found your blog today. We will be starting our Camino at St Jean on June 5… about 2 weeks after you finish. I read your whole blog start to finish tonight. Thanks for writing it. Buen Camino…. Jim


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