Day 12: Santo Domingo’s Blessing

Although an old monastery lined the narrow streets, Najera didn’t seem to take advantage of its natural points of beauty. A river ran through the city and stunning, deep red cliffs bordered one side, but it sermed the highlight (at least for B) was the supermarket.


On the way out, we saw the albergue that was closed for fumagation.


A gradual climb in between two round hikks led us through dry clay punctuated by green vineyards. We stopped in the little village Azofra, where we breakfasted on the chocolate croissants bought yesterday and Kat had her second fix of the day. A group of Spanish pilgrims had their morning sandwiches with beer. It was 9 am.

Onward we walked up dry hills until we were welcomed by a carpet of sunflowers at the well-heeled town of Ciruena. Manicured lawns, this place was a haven for golfers with its golf course, tennis courts, and swimming pools.


A rest and snack of biscuits gave us more energy. Biscuits like these are so easy to find here, they are like the ones that B, Kat, and Z grew up eating, but hard to find in the U.S. They are lightly sweetened and perfect with tea.


B ran into the woman from Mexico who we met the first day at St. Jean, still struggling a bit but still determined. B kept guard while she relieved herself by a grove of grapes. Walking a bit together, the Mexican woman said that at Najera, a Korean woman was trying to sell spaces in bunk bed in an empty renovated apartment with no running water for 8€. She also warned B of a drunken Polish man who was asking pilgrims for money and almost got into a fistfight with a pilgrim dad. The police escorted him out once, but apparently he is still around. Look out for a tall, beligerent, drunken Polish guy.


We entered the dirtier warehouse outskirts of Santo Domingo de la Calzada before walking into narrow cobblestones full of tourists there to see the 12th century cathedral and Camino museum.


Known for its care of pilgrims, Santo Domingo surpassed it a reputation. The donation-based albergue, Cofradia del Santo, welcomed us with clean floors and a smile. These guys are pros. Shoes left at the entrance, organized entry, a Brookstone-leg massager for 2€ (best money spent), and an elevator. There are even special rooms for loud snorers.


A pilgrim in an altered wheelchair/bike was able to maneuver easily. The bunks are clean, the segregated bathrooms awesome, kitchen perfect. This is a must stop. The volunteer even helped us with our packs.


After a shower and laundry, we ventured to a local restaurant where we had the best food in days: their specialty, mushrooms, pork, eggs, and on and on.


Full and happy, we ventured to the Paradour, a four-star hotel that was once the pilgrim hospital. We sat behind the Cathedral catching up on email, watching inflatable bouncy houses go up in preparation for an outdoor festival the evening.


Before we head to the grocery store for dinner, we will meet up with the foot specialist that visits the albergue every day at 4 for Kat’s blister. Using the old pen and paper method to register pilgrims, Santo Domingo and Cofradia del Santo know how to bless weary pilgrims.