Situated on the Paseo del Espolon, with its interlocking arch of Plane trees, Restaurante Polison was a picture-perfect lunch spot on a mild Iberian afternoon earlier this year. Seated on the sunny patio, Keith and I tasted authentic tapas including Jamon Iberico, Spanish ham drizzled with olive oil and topped with coarsely cracked pepper and served with a basket of fresh bread—and drank the crisp white Albarino wine. The view was priceless and the lunch a steal at under $20 for two. The funny part is, we hadn’t even planned to be there.
We had driven to Austria—where we’d enjoyed a four-week stay—and had chosen Burgos in northern Spain as a stopping-off point on our way home to Lisbon. Arriving late and tired at our hotel, we misplaced our car key. Bad news: it would take four days to receive a factory replacement. Good news: that was plenty of time to discover the secrets of one of the loveliest cities in northern Spain.
A two-and-a-half hour drive from Madrid, Burgos feels much more like a small town or village than the thriving university city it is. Burgos is home to just under 200,000 people and spread over 106 square-kilometres, but the heart of the city is walkable and livable. Little markets and shops dot the streets and locals are friendly and laidback as they go about their daily routines.
Like so many Spanish cities, Burgos is packed with fascinating museums celebrating the country’s rich and varied history. Every street we turned down seemed to house a new architectural or historical gem. We took in the impressive Burgos Cathedral, a gothic structure dating back to 1221, viewed the burial vault of the famed El Cid—the medieval military leader—and wondered at the impressive Arco de Santa Maria.
Strolling the city’s historic streets we were spoiled for choice when it came to dining options. The cosy, candlelit interior of La Cantina de Burgos called out to us one evening and we were glad it did. We tucked in to a delightful dinner of various tapas followed by a rich chocolate and walnut brownie accompanied by creamy homemade ice cream. Delicious. Even with a glass of rich Spanish Rioja wine and a couple of local artisanal beers, the bill came to under $40.
For our short stay in Burgos, Keith and I settled into a charming hotel within walking distance of the city centre. But, we were so seduced by the many charms of Burgos, that we set to wondering about our options for a longer stay, so we popped into a real estate office to see what was on offer. We were impressed to discover that two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments rent from as little as $445 a month and three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses sell from around $297,000.
Low costs, friendly locals, rich history and breathtaking architecture…our short stay in Burgos awakened us to the possibility of a fresh start in Spain. We know we’ll be back to Burgos. And who knows…maybe next time we’ll be staying put…
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