Burgos: home of the tomb of reconquista hero El Cid, staging ground for Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War and apparently the rudest geriatrics on the planet. Without much to regale you, dear reader, on our time in Burgos – we slept, ate morcilla (blood sausage), saw a wooden Jesus statue that grows hair and nails and slept some more – permit me to recount our bullshit arrival into what is otherwise a very charming city.
Guidebooks for Spain advise travellers to show respect to the elderly, because, I can only assume, most people treat the elderly with contempt back home. And we would have showed respect to shrivelled old gnome and her equally shrivelled, aggressive husband had they asked us, politely would be preferable, if we could slightly move our seats forward.
Instead they chose to simply kick our seats, punch our headrests and generally hurl indecipherable insults at us. For more than an hour. My Spanish was put to the test as I, politely at first, told them we booked these seats and we were here first.
Either I told them purple monkey dishwasher in Spanish, or they didn’t want to know. More kicking and punching of Tam’s chair ensued, prompting Tam to mutter to me, “How do I tell them to go away in Spanish?”
Despite their petulant behaviour, I thought the situation might be salvageable if I convinced them to move seats. “Asientos,” I said, waving a hand towards the practically empty bus, “Alli, alli, alli, alli, alli.” More spittle and Spanish curses followed.
So I tried a more direct approach. “Silencio, por favour”. Enraged, the bastarda now stopped shouting to resume her boxing bag routine on Tam’s head rest. Tam, looking like she was about to explode, turned around, smiled sweetly and said, “Por favour, viejo personnas, sienta alli!” (old people, you sit there!), pointing to the seat next to us, marked with a sticker containing the silhouette of a stick figure holding a cane.
Luke, sitting two seats back, found the whole situation hilarious. Two ladies sitting behind him, one of them speaking broken English, commented, “Those old people are stubborn.”
“Yes,” Luke replied, “But just as stubborn as those two.”
We finally arrived in Burgos. “Let’s get the hell off this bus,” Tam said, making a bee line for the door before our friends behind could leave a horse’s head on our lap.
Quickly collecting our bags, we noticed the old troll gesturing wildly to the bus driver, who after listening to her rants for the better part of two hours, was in no mood for a lecture. He waved her away with a dismissive hand before she stormed off, husband in tow.
The whole episode was mostly negated by our hotel in Burgos, which depending on whether you believe Hotelbookers, Hostelworld or the hotel website was either two, three or four stars. Spacious rooms, television and even a bath, all for 20 Euros a night.
Thankfully, the behaviour of our travel companions didn’t reflect the greater population. They were lovely, particularly the owner of a local pintxos bar who engaged us in animated conversation despite us not knowing what the feck he was on about. But the wine was cheap and delicious, while the aforementioned Morcilla de Burgos was devine. We tipped generously.
On another note…Tam called in an unofficial timeout on our second night that involved a fruitless search for a cinema screening Transformers in VO, while Tam indulged in a bubble bath, glass of wine (see bottle) and the latest episode of her autobiographical show, also known as Offspring.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the Cathedral of Burgos, home to the Jesus statue and a number of other priceless relics and artworks. Stunning doesn’t do this magnificent edifice justice.
So rested, relaxed and ready to face our next bus ride, these intrepid travellers are off to the university town of Salamanca, where great tapas, cheap drinks and a clutch of Busabout guides on vacation await.