We take our time getting started since I (Joyce) added kilometers in my head incorrectly and we have a short day of only about 8 kilometers. It’s tricky finding beds these days even though it’s beyond the summer rush. It’s still unseasonably hot and challenging to beat the speedier Pilgrims for the Municipal beds in Viana while Logrono would be a long haul in this heat. We need an easy day anyway, right? Divine intervention, for sure.Oh, well… on the plus side we stayed in a small apartment last night that was very nice and we even heated up paella from the grocery store in our cute little kitchen. Not bad at all and easy on the budget.
Survival of the fittest in arid, dry conditions; snails crawl up a live plant stem to obtain moisture. Hey!! It’s the brother/sister pair from Israel! We last saw them in Estella.
What? We are here already? Cross the river right after leaving Sansol and we find our home for tonight at the San Andres Hostel.
This village is best known for its 12th century church, Iglesia de Santo sepulchre (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) linked with the Knights Templar and based on the octagonal church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The cupola with its cross-ribbed vault forming an 8 sided star, is particularly notable and emblematic of the Knights. ~ Brierley guidebook (Its locked so are unable to tour the interior.)
Time for the Pilgrim Menu and we are lucky enough to share a table with a delightful couple from Italy. Thanks to Google Translate we are able to communicate, but I think their smiles say it all… Chow!
Rats!! Apparently we missed a huge party last night in Estella as at 6:00 a.m. this dark, Sunday morning we hear the revelers still going strong from the downtown area of Estella, Spain. We did enjoy our Pilgrim meal last night in Oceana Youth Hostel (Ignore the name – they take in old people like us, too!) as recommended by a colorful character from Amsterdam. Our table included people from France, Germany, Brazil, Australia and ourselves from the United States so the air was peppered with the sounds of these languages and accents. Our stay also included a nice visit with a brother and sister from Israel as they shared some insight to their culture and way of life. The hostel is in an old school turned dormitory and serves us well for a good night’s stay, especially when we weren’t sure we’d even get a bed.
Two choices of routes leaving Estella – Go left to experience the wine fountain “Fuente del Vino” beside the Monastery of Nuestra Senora la Real de Irache... that is the route we choose. Free wine? Can’t pass that up! A community of monks served pilgrims here since the 10th century but were forced to vacate in 1985 and it is now a museum. ~A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by Brierley.
The ruins of 10th Century St. Stephen’s Castle are at the top of the mountain and can be seen from Villamayor de Monjardin.
Another incredibly hot day of hiking and Joan may have sucked her bladder (water supply in her backpack) dry. Interesting conversations with other pilgrims help take our minds off of the heat today.
Short video of our day:
Top three photo picks of the day:
Ceiling view of Iglesia de Santa Maria de los Arcos XIIth C in Los Arcos, Spain
We leave at the crack of dawn to beat the heat today and find the path surrounded by tall plants that look and smell like dill. As we proceed down our path we hear the hum of paragliders as they entertain us with dips and swerves making the moment seem surreal. (Included in the video at the bottom of this post.)Delicious wild black raspberries are a treat along the trail.
The Romanesque 11th century bridge at Puenta la Reina (The Queen’s Bridge) owes its foundation to Queen Doña Mayor who had the bridge built over the river Arga.This old Roman road is said to be the most important stretch of Roman road left on the French Way. My mind wanders imagining centuries of use and here I am in this moment, right here, right now. Mind boggling… We take a lunch break next to a water fountain and enjoy the entertaining company of a group from Italy as we communicate using charades and the English skills of the young woman on the right. Why are Italians always so much fun? I may need to go to Italy some day to discover this phenomenon.The final leg of the day proves to be challenging as the high temps and lack of shade takes its toll. Our survival strategy is shade hopping as we slog our way under the hot sun and take short breaks under the shade of the occasional small tree.
Aa-a-a-r-r-r-g-g-g-h-h-h… So hot!
We are too slow today and there are no beds for us in Lorca, but an outgoing character from Amsterdam is at the bar highly recommending Oceana Youth Hostel in Estella. Better pick up the pace so we can find nice cozy beds. At this point, cozy isn’t even necessary… just a bed will do.
We lift off on August 29, 2016 and have a bird’s eye view of the Minneapolis area.
August 30, 2016: After landing at the Paris airport we easily make our way to the Gare du Nord RER station with a couple of hours to spare and carefully watch the monitors to find our platform number for the train to Bayonne, France. All we see listed for our train is the word delayed.
Finally, a platform number appears on the monitor and we rush to find our assigned train car. Crowds of people rush along with us trying to read the faded small car numbers and Randy has gone on ahead to locate our car. All of a sudden, the bells go off and Joan and I are pushed onto a random car by a railroad employee. This delayed train is trying to make up time with a short stop here.
Where’s Randy? Oh, no… did he even get on the train? Is he still standing on the platform at the Paris train station? We try to walk forward through the train cars to find him.
No, we can’t…Hearts sink as we discover this train is really made up of two trains hooked together and they will eventually separate with different destinations. Plus, Randy has our tickets. Trying not to panic, we alert an employee and nobody seems very concerned. No cell phones, no two-way radios and basically no French language skills other than counting to 10 and merci. Randy must have gotten on the train in front and made his dilemma known as we are aware that there is a “situation” in the other train.
Will we lose Randy in France before we even start hiking? How will we ever find him and where will he be? Worse case scenarios rush through my mind.
We are instructed, when the train arrives in Bordeaux, to hop off and get onto the correct train before it is unhooked to split off. Meanwhile, Randy has made friends with a wonderful gentleman named Al who speaks French and English so he interprets between Randy and the railroad employees. Several delays along the tracks means our train ride is getting longer and longer and darkness eventually surrounds us. At least Joan and I have the wine.
Five hours later… Al helps Randy position himself just outside the car closest to our train, so that we can quickly find him before the train leaves and splits. After a long and tense ride we are reunited and it feels so-o-o good as we can finally continue our travels together again. A huge thank you goes out to our Camino angel named Al. Travel tip: Do not wander away from your group when attempting to get on a train.August 31, 2016: Next leg involves buses from Bayonne to San Sebastian and on to Pamplona. It’s always interesting to visit with other travelers when using public transportation.
Last step is the taxi ride from Pamplona to Zubiri since there is no bus service available. Thanks to Cesar Mendez we had a great ride and interesting conversation discussing our different countries and interests. Thanks, for the fabulous service, Cesar! Now we can say that we have met a person that has actually “run with the bulls” in Pamplona.
By the looks of our clothing, we appear to be homeless, don’t we? Apparently, we don’t want to put on airs and are saving on laundry during the first day of hiking.
September 2, 2016: We (Joan, Randy & Joyce) leave Pamplona shortly after sunrise and find the early morning streets fairly quiet. (Short video of the day at the bottom of this post)
ALERT!!! Joan and Randy possibly witness an ATM scammer at work this morning with a Camino bicyclist as his victim and it reminds us to always be aware of people nearby when using these technologies and don’t use a machine if you view anything suspicious. Click on this link: How to avoid ATM fraud while traveling for some useful information when withdrawing cash. Also, be sure to alert your bank as to where you will be traveling so they are aware of your activity. Shout out to the fabulous customer service, while we are traveling, from our local DNB National Bank in Clear Lake/Gary, South Dakota. You are definitely an important part of our adventures.So much history… It was in this area that Charlemagne’s Christian forces defeated Aigolando’s Muslim army in the 8th century. Ruins of Guendulain palace are visible from the path, but I am having trouble finding historical background of the palace. There is a hotel in Pamplona by that name – Palacio Guendulain. If someone has a link to its history, please leave a comment The plowed field in the foreground is interesting as it is almost totally made up of rocks which must be hard on equipment. As we approach the summit of Alto del Perdon (Hill of Forgiveness), we discover that there is ambulance service on the mountain and feel fortunate to not need their services. The high temperatures combined with the climb and lack of shade are certainly taking a toll on pilgrims.Check this off the “Bucket List”: On the summit of Alto del Perdon is an iconic sculpture dedicated to all the pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago. The long metal sculpture representing pilgrims on foot and on horse reflects the historical and eternal nature of the walk. There is a Spanish inscription on it “donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas” meaning “Where the path of the wind crosses that of the stars.” ~caminodesantiago.com
Beautiful views as we look back towards Pamplona, but what goes up must go down, and we carefully make our way down the steep descent. One wrong move and the hike is done. The unfortunate and injured pilgrim would need to be picked up after rolling down to the bottom. It wouldn’t be pretty and I’m sure tears would be involved.
September 1, 2016: Unfinished business awaits us as we begin our 2016 Camino de Santiago trek across northern Spain. We previously completed Astorga to Santiago and St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Zubiri, Spain, so it appears we have a little over 300 miles remaining. Click on the short “kick off” video as we begin our journey…
We stumble upon the Parish Church of Santa Lucia which has lived through the invasion of the Moors, the Spanish Inquisition, Napoleon’s crossing of the Pyrenees, two world wars and the Spanish Civil War.
It is rumored to be a Templar church and symbols contained in and around the building seem to confirm this. Few records exist so piecing the building’s story together is quite a challenge ~the abbey.es
The intent was to stay in Arre tonight but we seemed to have bypassed the path through that particular town and, before you know it, we’ve gone 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) and find ourselves in downtown Pamplona. Oh, well… plan B will be just fine and we have a head start on our hike tomorrow. We settle into our little room above a small bar and rest our weary bones.