We woke on Wednesday morning to soft flakes of snow swirling in the courtyard behind our apartment block. Burgos may be in Spain and only five or six hours from Barcelona, but mild winters would be an anomaly here with November–March temperatures regularly falling below zero. Burgos, known for its ‘healthy’ climate, is one of the coldest places in Castilla y León, as well as Spain generally; and the snowy winter scenes in Doctor Zhivago were filmed in nearby Soria.
Burgos sits at an elevation of 856m on the edge of the Iberian plateau which is the reason for its continental Mediterranean climate — and when the north wind blows there’s nothing to stop it whipping through the city streets, biting the ears of hapless hatless folk. On Wednesday, the wind chill brought temperatures down below freezing and I bravely entered into society with my newly acquired bobble-topped woolly hat with ear flaps. Despite the icy air I didn’t see many hats — umbrellas, yes, as the Burgaleses are fond of their umbrellas (which are much larger and more colourful than their British counterparts), but surprisingly few hats.
The night before it snowed a friend regaled us with the story of an especially bad winter about five years ago: he, his wife and some friends went into a bar on Christmas Day for some drinks and tapas, stayed in the bar for an hour and opened the door onto a street covered in eight or ten inches of snow. And it continued snowing until it was so deep that the town council arranged for it to be scooped up by mechanical diggers and piled into an enormous mound on the bank of the Arlanzón River in the centre of town. There it remained, slowly shrinking and getting dirtier by the day, for the next three months.
Wednesday’s snowfall, however, was just a flurry, lying for only a few hours before quickly melting once the snow turned to rain. Fortunately we had enough foresight to seize the moment and climb the hill to the castle, iPhones in hand, and shoot some pictures whilst there were still snowy white scenes to capture. I took a bunch of Instagram shots with my iPhone, including the one below, but the snowscape above was shot with a Canon IXUS 75.
Once we had descended the hill we stopped off at Café Latino for a coffee and to warm our bones before heading out again to see what else was Instagram worthy … the story of which I’ll share in my next blog post.