The Camino de Santiago – Day One: A Late Start

What is a pilgrim’s passport?

A pilgrim’s passport is also known as a “credencial”. It is a document that most pilgrims carry on the Camino. It has pages for stamps that pilgrims collect along the way in albergues, bars and churches. It is also something for pilgrims to hold on to after the Camino as a memento.


Why is it necessary for the Camino?

Most albergues (a hostel for pilgrims) ask for the pilgrim’s passport before they let you in. Some smaller villages along the way do not have hotels or other accommodation, so a pilgrim’s passport is a must so that you can stay in the albergues.

What is the Compostela?

The Compostela is a certificate for pilgrims who’ve walked more than 100 kilometers of the Camino. This is the reason why a lot of people choose Sarria as their starting point, which is roughly 110 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela. To get the Compostela, pilgrims must present their pilgrim’s passport (with all the stamps they got along the way) at the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago.

Day 1 – 12:30

As pilgrims’ standards go, we started out pretty late on our first day. We initially planned to stay only in hotels, but we realized that the next village within walking distance only had albergues, meaning we had to get a pilgrim’s passport from the Alberge Municipal de Peregrinos de Burgos before we could start our day’s walk. The municipal albergues usually don’t open until around midday.

The municipal albergue was crowded with people by 12:00. Some pilgrims finish their walk by midday to ensure they get a bed in the better albergues. We didn’t get to start walking until 12:30, which meant that we were way behind other pilgrims who started from Burgos that day.

The weather on Day 1 was perfect, neither too cold nor too windy. The sun wasn’t scorching and we started walking along the side of a river. The route was pretty clear and marked with arrows.

We didn’t see any other pilgrims but we did meet some enthusiastic local Spanish people along the way. Spanish people are usually very enthusiastic when they see pilgrims. They are more than happy to point out where the route is for you.

The Spanish phrase “¡Buen Camino!” is what Spanish people and other pilgrims use to greet you. The literal English translation is something like “good road”, and it is the most common phrase pilgrims hear on the Camino.

After three hours of walking, we stopped by a Spanish bar called Restaurante Pececitos for lunch. Common meals available in Spanish bars include: tortilla de patatas (egg and potato omelette) and bocadillos (subway sandwiches).


We didn’t get to Hornillos del Camino until about 6:00 in the afternoon. The albergue we stayed in that night only had two upper bunk beds left and they were in different rooms. This is the reason why most pilgrims start walking at around 8:00 am, as the beds in better albergues run out fast during popular seasons.

Pilgrims hang out in the common room, have showers and wash their clothes until light outs, which is usually either 10:00 or 10:30 in most albergues.

After six hours of walking, my legs and feet were sore and hurting. From Burgos to Hornillos del Camino was about 20 kilometers. It was the longest distance I’ve ever walked in one day. I fell asleep almost as soon as my head touched the pillow.