written 19th December
According to the history section in the lower cloister, the current cathedral is built on the site of a small, unassuming looking church which was built around 1080 and modestly extended in 1180.
In 1219, or thereabouts, the King decided that it just wasn't big enough (something to do with him getting married, not sure if he wanted to get married in Burgos and couldn't or had it rebuilt in anticipation of his marriage - was trying to read the spanish as the english brochure stopped upstairs which was a shame, deinately something about king and marriage) so ordered a new cathedral built. They started in 1221, had the first mass in 1230, and finished most of it by 1270 - quite impressive in 50 years when you consider the neverending slow progress of the Sagrada Familias in Barcelona which is the only other cathedral we have been to which comes close to Burgos (but they have funding constraints and a dead architect (Gaudi) to contend with, amongst other things) - and it is simply immense.
There is nothing left of the original church and on the model it took up about a quarter of the floor plan of the current edifice and a third of the ceiling height so it was a massive change for the town.
and everywhere there are stone bishops sleeping on pedestals and in alcoves - there have been a lot of bishes.
Somewhat incongruously, instead of the hallowed organ music we were expecting, the cathedral staff were in full on christmas mood so we bopped our way around to "lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you", "Walking in a winter wonderland" and "santa claus is coming to town". which was fun :)
The upper cloister and some of the chapels were closed for restoration - an ongoing thing from what we could understand of the history section - but even so we had a good couple of hours of amazement and it was definately worth the trip.
Deciding that Burgos was just too cold for any tourist office, guided walk fun - we have done a lot of that recently anyway - we decided to set off once more. Burgos has been the destination for a while now, with no real plans after that. Our options were following the pilgrims route to Leon - another place featured on the cold weather news - or taking up Bill's suggestion of a good driving road, N623, between Burgos and Santander so we decided to head north and down, in the hope of fine driving and warmer temperatures. The map promised some light wiggles and a pass or two at around 1000m which sounded good to us, and conveniently passed Carrefour so we were able to stock up - and i have bought my first ever spanish cheese (Tierno)!
The road started off well, nicely clear and gritted, through more wide open expanses of what I presume to be fields but covered in snow,
Again, with no real plans, we headed first for Santillana del Mar - a mediaeval village near some prehistoric cave paintings, 3 miles inland, which was apparently described as "the prettiest little village in Spain" by Jean-Paul Satre, but in the dark, with nothing open and no where obviously to park up, we decided that they would have to forego our tourist euro (only the one, we have blown the budget for this week on electronics and gas buying midweek mini breaks in France!)
We started the next day again with sunshine and no plans. I fancied the wiggly red roads through the Picos de Europa National Park but with passes at 1600m Will sensibly veto'd that plan so we headed off in the sunshine along the coast where I was in geography heaven with snowcapped mountains on one side and rolling green hills, cliff edges and blue sea on the other.
And we are now on the Camino Norte de Santiago (Northern Pilgrimage route) so still heading in the right direction.
We also met Laura and Cedric who asked us what we were doing with our little van and helpfully circled all sorts of good places on our map both locally and further afield in northern and southern spain and portugal - we had been wondering whether we would find enough things to see to fill the 10 days before our Porto rendezvous, no worres anymore! although sadly the really good bits of Asturias are the mountains and we have had enough mountain fun for a while, maybe another trip in the summer in the midgey - a nearby beach where we would be fine to stop for the night and a great seafood restaurant for the following lunchtime and on hearing that we hadn't tried the local cider, promptly invited us to join them in Villaviciosa that night - excellent!
With the right time to start drinking cider apparently being between 9-10pm, we had a couple of hours to kill so set off for the suggested beach and set about cleaning ourselves up properly - well if people had been good enough to invite us out, the least we could do was not smell too bad :) At 0 degrees, it was even so warm compared with our previous couple of nights that I washed my hair, thus negating the need to find a campsite for another few days - more budget for cider! :)
So, nearing the end of another day, and having started it with no plans, we have finished up with some new ideas for a route, new things to see, new food to try and some new friends - not bad going :)