Villava to Cizur Menor - 10 Km

May 7
Lat: 42.788333 Long: -1.676667

I got a late start this morning, because I had to go to the post office (los curries) to mail a package to myself in Santiago. We finally got on the trail around 10 a.m. and headed to Pamplona so we could tour the city. Pamplona is a nice city to tour for a few hours before heading back out.

We visited Pamplona Cathedral... it was a must see! There are 327 people buried down in the closures and it has a number of altars in the main church. I believe this may be for special groups to conduct a private Mass.

After we left the cathedral, we decided to have a picnic lunch, which is something you can do all along the trail to cut your eating costs. You can simply go to a bakery for bread, and then to the meat market down the street for sandwich fillings, and they will make a sandwich for you.

After eating we sat in the park for a while to watch people and then moved on to Cizur Menor, where we checked into the Albergue Marbel Roncal. This is a great place as it was clean and they have 50 beds in four rooms. It was only 10 euros a night. The restaurant is right across the street and has a good "Peregrinos" Menu so we ate well for only 10 euros.

Once again, we had dinner with our friends from England and Colorado. Dinner with a group of "Pereprinos" is great. Good food, good friends and good conversation…it doesn't get any better than this! After dinner it was bed time and my best night’s sleep yet.

Much more to follow! Buen Camino!

Zubiri to Villava - 21 km

May 6

We had a simple breakfast at Amets Pension where we stayed the night before. This was a great place to stay and I highly recommend it to others. It was only 35 euros., clean and quiet, yet close to the Albergue that served "Peregrinos" meals for 12 euros. We were packed and on the trail by 7:30 a.m. Overall, the trail was level as it walked along the river.

We passed through the small town of Larrasoana, where we stopped and had coffee. It was a nice little place. There were pictures hanging on the wall of the owners posing with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. This is the town that everybody stayed in while filming "The Way." There are only about two good climbs along this section to Villava, and they aren't bad.

Somewhere around the town of Irotz, we came to a little outdoor restaurant that was filled with Pilgrims. The omelet was really a good choice, filled with ham and cheese (again with the pork). We met a Korean couple there and spoke to them for a while. The man made really nice Camino pins and gave us each one.

After our break and meal, it was only a couple of hours to get to town. We didn't have to hurry since we had already made reservations at a hotel. We finally arrived around 1:30 p.m., but then had a little difficulty finding the hotel. After asking a gentleman for directions, he kindly walked us across town (it’s not too big of a town) to the front door and then walked back. The people really friendlyand eager to help ,in spite of not knowing what the heck we're trying to say.

After we checked in, Hawk and I went for a walk to see the town. It's a suburb of Pamplona, which we will hike to tomorrow. We plan to spend the day there and then walk out about 5 to 10 kilometers and find a place to stay late in the day. We had dinner at 7 p.m. I was able to get a bowl of what they called “carne y papas,” what I'd call a beef stew of sorts. The strange part of the meal was when the waiter asked us if we wanted our greens pure or ground. None of understood what he was trying to ask us so we said “no.” The next thing we knew he brought us our split pea soup. It was a bowl of whole English peas in broth. All we could do was laugh, but it was good. All the meals have been good and filling, but sometimes the portions seemed to be a little small.

The day ended as it began; warm and beautiful.

Buen Camino  

Roncesvalles to Zubiri - 22 km

May 5
Lat: 42.930556 Long: -1.503611

I got up and packed at 6 a.m. and was out of the Albergue by 6:30 a.m.. Generally, they want you to leave by daybreak so at 6 a.m. they turned the lights on and played some music (in this case, the "Wedding March"). I met Hawk and Little Pony at their hotel at 7 a.m. and we were gone by 7:15 a.m.. We couldn't eat until we got to the next village.

We walked 3 kilometers to the little village of Burguete and stopped in at a small shop selling tostadas with ham and cheese. The place was packed with "Pilgrims." Interestingly, this village is the town where Ernest Hemingway stayed when in Spain. He would write and play a piano, which can still be seen bearing his signature from July 25, 1923.

After we ate, we packed and headed on toward our destination for the day. Throughout the day we passed through several small hamlets, Espinal, and Viskarret. Soon after leaving Viskarret, the trail took a change and started to climb for about the next 4.5 kilometers before changing to a steep descent for 3.5 kilometers into Zubiri. This is a nice little town where the people are friendly and there are many places to stay and eat. The population is about 400.

As we walked into town a woman approached us about lodging. She ran a pension, a place where people let you stay in their house or apartment. The Amets Pension was clean and neat, and we got our own private rooms. It costs more than the albergues, but was well worth it. We made reservations for dinner at the Albergue.

Dinner was served at 7:00. This was the best Peregrinos meal yet! They served a fresh green salad and pork ribs with potatoes. Interestingly, we’ve had nothing but fish or pork. If you don't eat fish, you better like pork. It's hard to be a vegetarian here. We had dinner with a couple of Brits from England, who "snowbird" in Florida for six months of the year. They were a lot of fun. So far most of the Pilgrims have been French, Spanish, and Canadian, but there are many others here as well.

More to follow. Buen Camino

Auberge d' Orisson to Roncesvalles - 19 km

May 4

I got up at 6 am and was packed before 7 a.m., then off to breakfast. Breakfast at the Albergue is really quite simple… its toast and jam with orange juice and coffee. It's open from 7-7:30 a.m. and then they want you gone. I didn't mind because we had a 19 kilometer day that was mostly uphill.

It was a foggy day but showed hopes of clearing by noon. We left Orisson at 8 a.m. and headed into the fog. It was dense and cold for the first couple of hours, but I still managed to hike in shorts. We reached the high point on the trail at a level of 1,450 meters by 11:30 with a fair amount of snow on top, where we then started our descent to Roncesvalles, which was only two hours away. Roncesvallies is a small town with a population of under 100. We arrived at the Catholic church at 1:30 p.m.

I was able to get a bunk in the Albergue for 10 euros. It's nice and clean and the showers are hot. Hawk and Little Pony got a room in the hotel (the last one). We are going to meet and go to the Pilgrim's Mass at 6 p.m. and after that go to dinner.

We went to Pilgrim's Mass at 6 p.m. but it was kind of a bust since it was completely in Spanish and we didn't understand a single word. After the mass was over, we went to dinner and sat around talking before finally going to bed around 9 o'clock. More to follow!

St. Jean Pied de Port to Auberge d Orisson - 8 km

May 3

The shuttle picked us up (Hawk, Little Pony, and myself) at the hotel at 8:45 a.m. and took us to St. Jean Pied de Port, an hour-and-a-half trip over the mountains on a lot of winding roads. This trip made all us a little motion sick.

After arriving in St. Jean, we had a couple of cups of tea and then went up to the Compostela office to get our “Pilgrim's Passport Credencial.” After receiving them and all our instructions, we headed out of town. The weather was cool and foggy as we climbed and, at some point, no longer had views off into the valleys below.

It took about three hours to reach the Auberge d Orisson (we made reservations before we came to Spain). After getting settled in, we had hot bowls of veggie soup and cold beer. The shower system is unique as they give you one coin to pay for the shower. With this, you get a total of five minutes broken up into five, one-minute water flows. It really does give you enough time, but you don't tarry. The place is a quaint little place complete with a fireplace and nice little bar. Everyone just sits around, eats, drinks a beer or glass of local wine, and talks of the day’s events or tomorrow’s upcoming challenges. Dinner is served at 6:00 p.m.

For dinner tonight was more vegetable soup and pork loin and navy beans. They put out bottles of local red wine. Everything was “all-you-can-eat or drink.” Everything was wonderful. The beans were cooked with chopped up onions, pimentos, and little peppers. Everyone sat around and talked until around 9:00 p.m., then we all headed off to bed. It has been a wonderful day. We have a 12-mile hike tomorrow, so I will write more tomorrow. Buen Camino

Pamplona...Finally!

May 2

After a four-hour delay due to maintenance issues we finally got in the air at 10 p.m. and flew all night. I arrived in Madrid at noon on May 2 and up with “Hawk” and “Little Pony” in the baggage claim area. We caught a cab to the train station in Madrid and waited on a train to Pamplona.

Finally arrived in Pamplona at 6:20 p.m. (Central European Time Zone) and took a cab to the motel where we are in for the night and went to dinner. Pamplona is a beautiful city. We spent the evening touring around and eating and having a few glasses of wine.

Tomorrow will have breakfast here at the hotel and then call the shuttle and travel up to St. John Pied de Port where we will then leave on the trail to Orrison for the bed-and-breakfast.

Pamplona is a wonderful city. It so full of life and activity! We stayed at the Hotel Eslava, which is nice and clean, for 45 Euros/single and comes with breakfast. They have good WiFi here as well. On Tuesday and Thursday all the restaurants have tapas (appetizers) and vino for two Euros. They are really good!

Atlanta to Madrid

May 1, 2013

A new adventure has begun! I'm at the Atlanta airport and have made it through the TSA security without a problem, and I'm on my way. My flight leaves in several hours and is a non-stop to Madrid, Spain.

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Spain Blog 2013

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