Arriving in Burgos and it’s a beautiful sunny day, the sky is a brilliant blue and the air is crisp, there’s a feeling of the changing of seasons from winter to spring, and it feels great to be somewhere new, to explore and discover.
Leaving Bilbao, the bus journey to Burgos took us through rain, sleet, snow, strong winds and finally the arrival of the sun in this new city that we’d set out to take a look around. The sun was blinding, a rare sight for anyone who had been in Bilbao in the beginning of February, the rain had been indefinite in Bilbao, something that until a few days ago I was convinced was here for the long run. But yet again Bilbao surprised me and out came the sun and the clear blue sky.
We set off to the old part of Burgos and crossed the river where the sight of odd trees and bridges was apparent. The sun reflected off the river glistening in the midday sun and we found a small tower to get our first higher glimpse of the city.
Continuing through the main entrance into the old part of the town and it’s the cathedral which attracts my focus, the intricate patterns on the side and the spires. I may have seen a lot of cathedrals, but this one grabbed my attention with the cleanliness of it, how it was well kept and stood as the focal point of the city. Inside of the cathedral was the plenty stain glassed windows that you expect and the high ceilings, with the sun outside the windows appeared all the more impressive.
The rest of the day in Burgos was spent debating the meaning of the word “Lechazo,” for any Spaniard reading, you’re fully aware that this has nothing to do with “Lechuza,” and that the only thing they have in common is that they are infact both animals. Lechazo being young lamb, and Lechuza being an owl.
Noticing this on a menu and all our minds went to Hedwig, the most famous owl you’ll come across and not lamb, as the word we knew for that was cordero but it was not to be resolved until we arrived in Palencia.
After returning to Bilbao in the snow from Burgos in order to attend an oh so fun registration meeting it was the weekend and time to continue the travels to Palencia and then on to Valladolid.
Palencia appeared to be a ghost town, a town of empty streets and real life tumble weed. The thing that attracted us there was the statue of Cristo de Otero, a monument of Christ which stands tall over Palencia. At 20 metres high more or less it was the main focus of our day here, alongside the owl/lamb which you’ll find out about soon.
It was very impressive as we walked up, but so cold and windy that I felt like I might blow away. After admiring the view from above we returned to the centre and here begins the owl/lamb fiasco.
Entering into a what we found to be a very typical Spanish bar we realised that lechazo was the specialty of the region so naturally something that we really should try, discussing what it actually was we decided to just take a leap of faith and order, below is what we were presented with…
That’s right, lamb’s feet? It’s still a little unclear of what it actually was, but the question was how to try this. I personally have the opinion that everything is worth trying once, don’t knock it until you’ve tried sort of attitude, but the question of this one was: what exactly am I suppose to eat? All I could see was bone and fat, something that I’m not willing to put into my stomach. We tried the sauce and it wasn’t that bad, but putting that aside the rest of the food was delicious and the atmosphere of the place was great.
So there ended the story of Palencia and the short journey on to Valladolid, a city with such a beautiful park that it’s worth the visit just for that. Wandering through the park we saw peacocks, red squirrels (a rare sight for an English person!) and soaked up the atmosphere and the feeling of the city. There were painters capturing the park in watercolour, children laughing and peacocks showing off their feathers.
It was a great day in Valladolid, and our timing could not have been better, the city was coming towards the end of its week long carnival and had a special event in the evening called Fuego de Toro, I guess Fire Bulls would be a good enough translation. But it was an event that once again left me wondering about the risk of death.
The crowd was gathered in the square in Plaza Mayor, held firmly behind some tape waiting for the evening’s events to begin. As the clock struck 9pm out came four men with metal bull costumes attached to them with nothing else than fireworks coming out of them, shooting out of both sides, on a direct level of the crowd. At this point I was already beginning the WOAHs when all of a sudden the tape is dropped on the floor and I begin to see children running towards them, then dodging and diving, my immediate thoughts are someone grab those kids, but as I pause, I begin to realise that this actually is the event, in short go play with the bulls with fireworks coming out of them, it’ll be fun. And oh my, it really was!
I can’t deny that I was scared of being set alight, but the adrenaline rush was amazing, running in one direction, turning and darting back to try and avoid the bulls gave a rush and was exhilarating, scary but so much fun. In all the excitement I didn’t manage to take any good photos or videos, so I leave you with this one I found on youtube from 2011, skip to minute 7.55 then starts the better part of the Fire Bulls.
In all it was a very enjoyable weekend and a great introduction into what Castilla y León has to offer. If you get the chance visit Valladolid when carnival is on, you’re sure to have a lot of fun and maybe even get to see someone set on fire, you never know in Spain.
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Enjoy your evening!