Day 09 - Los Arcos to Viana

Date: May 5, 2018

Location: From: Los Arcos To: Viana

Mileage: 18.6 Km/11.0 Mi..

Weather: Cool and sunny

Temperature: 46 F in the morning and in the lower 50’s F in the afternoon but with light steady winds

Lodging and Cost: Andres Muñoz

GPS Location: 42.°3610” N and 2°..,22.25” W

Highlights: The beautiful day that had started and how good the trail was. There were so many views.

Summary of the Day: 

I was up by 6:00 a.m. and out of the Albergue by was a much warmer start then any of the other days, so maybe the warmer and nicer weather is on the way, but that enjoyment will probably be short lived once I hit the Meseta (Desert) in a couple of weeks. The Albergue was really nice. It was clean and not too crowded. I have always avoided them because I didn’t want to be jammed in, but the last several ones have changed my mind. Not to mention they are a better price than the Pensión. I was feeling great and all parts of the body were in high gear and an I walking at a good pace. I usually walkat about 4.5 Km/hr, but this morning I got to Torres Del Rio, which is 7.8 Km in an hour and ten minutes. I stopped there at a little bar, which I had eaten at in 2015. I ordered up a good breakfast and was starting eat when I looked up and saw Karl coming up the trail. He is the fellow from Denmark that I met back in Orisson and did walk over the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles with. It was good to see someone that I knew from the beginning. He speaks pretty good English and we can have nice conservations when we take breaks, but his walking pace is somewhat slower than mine. I told him my destination for the day was Viana, and he said that was good for him. He has to be in Santiago by June 9, so he has a good bit of time as I. After we finished eating we both took off heading out to complete the last 10 Km/6.25 Mi. We arrived in Viana at 11:30 and had to wait to check into the Albergue at 12:00 so we went and got a cold beer and waited. We were back when the doors opened and were the first two to sign in. A little later Tomás from Germany came in and we ended up the only three people in our room tonight night.

It was a great day of walking and the weather was cooperating, along with the body, so all in all I had a great day and walk. I’ve been practicing my Spanish everyday, all day. I make sure that I start in Spanish, but the conversation is still a little short. Some what because of my limitations but mostly the people are really busy and don’t have too much time to chit chat. I did have a great conversation with a girl in the pharmacy. I told her my difficulties with hearing Spanish and understanding everything, and that’s when she changed to some broken English and told me that she has the same problem. We both agreed that we can read and write, but the hearing was the stumbling block for us.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the new adventures. Until then Buen Camino

Day 08 - Estella to Los Arcos

Date: May 4, 2018

Location: From: Estella To: Los Arcos

Mileage: 23.3 Km/13.4 Mi.

Weather: Cold and cloudy but no rain

Temperature: 36 F in the morning but then warmed up to the mid 40’s in the afternoon40° F

Lodging and Cost: Albergue La Casa de la Abuela 10

GPS Location: 42.°3410” N and 2°1131” W

Highlights: The great views as I climbed up to Monjardin and the great path from Monjardin all the way to Los Arcos. It was fairly smooth an not so rocky..

Summary of the Day: 

I was up at 6:00 and out by 7:00 on a very cold morning. I looked at the temperature gauge on the pharmacy sign and it said 8 deg celcus which is about 36 deg F. But as I walked I warmed up fast. The nice thing was that there was no rain forecasted. I pretty much had the trail to myself as most people stayed in Estella to eat breakfast. The climb up to the village of Villamayor de Monjardín spectular. The views were the best yet. When I got there I stopped at a nice little bar,(restaurant) and had a café con leche with a pastry.  After that I was set to go. It seemed like no sooner then I started walking I came across Eduardo’s mobile café. It is a trailer that he sets up and sells café con leche along with other goodies to eat and drink. I stopped there back in 2015 when I was passing through. I couldn’t not stop so I did and had another café con leche and something else to eat. After about thirty minutes I pushed on to Los Arcos for the night. I was the first one to check in the Albergue, so I got my bunk make and my stuff put away and most importantly my shower before anybody came in. Some times there are advantages to hiking fast.

It wasn’t long before a lot of folks started to come in. The Albergue also offered dinner, so I paid the 10€ for dinner and glad I did. Dinner was served at 7:00 and it was vegetarian. A big salad and then a nice hot lentil soup. We also had water and wine. Debra, from Washington state and a woman from Holland, and another from Russia also joined us.

After dinner everybody was full, tired and warm and it wasn’t long before everybody was in bed.

Today was probably my best day so far. My feet feel great and the weather is starting to get better and warm up in the afternoons. The forecast is not calling for any rain and I hope that it stays that way.

With that I will call it a day and look forward to tomorrow and another Buen Camino

Day 07 - Puente La Reina to Estella

Date: May 3, 2018

Location: From: Puente La Reina To: Estella

Mileage: 21,9 Km/13.6 Mi.

Weather: cold, but clear and no rain

Temperature: 38 F at 7:30 but in the lower 50’s later in the dayF°

Lodging and Cost: San Andres Pensión 30

Highlights: The Roman bridges along the way and the people I came across.

Summary of the Day: 

We were all awake at 6:00 this morning but I stayed in the bed and let Saul, Debra and Hans get packed up and out before I got out of the bed. This Albergue had tiny rooms and I didn’t  want to take the chance of mixing my stuff with someone else’s. They finally left around 7:00 and then I got on the move. It was cold out side, but it makes for great walking. I packed and left the Albergue at 7:30 and walked out to the Queen’s Bridge. Today’s walk was on the start of the old Roman Roads and it was really good to see how they has stood the test of time. Most of the roads are still in great shape, and they will tear your feet up as the rocks cause stone bruising as you walk. We’re at the beginning of wine country, and  all the farmers are working their grape orchards. The little grape stumps are starting to sprout green leaves. It is really interesting to see how they have all the rows perfectly straight. By the time I get to the other side of the Rioja area of the wine region all the trees will be full of leaves and small grapes. They grow so fast and the soil is as black as can be.I’ve also already seen some of the olive trees with buds and little olives. I passed several Bodegas today but none of them gave free wine. That will happen in the next couple of days. The larger winery’s have the outlets to let you taste their wines

Today wasn’t a difficult day on the trail. It was a pretty path and level trail. I’m starting to pass more Pilgrims that I have not seen before.I think the group that I started with are beginning move faster than this group. Saul, Debra, and Hans are doing longer days as they are on a time schedule and have to finish by the end on May. While I may never catch them again, we’re keeping in touch by e-mail so we know where each other is. I may pick up my pace a little to catch up with the, before they get to Santiago, just to make contact again. It has been another good day on the Camino. I have been able to practice my Spanish some but the times are limited as everybody is working hard and are taking care of the Pilgrims. Not to mention I have a hard time understanding their Spanish. First it is so fast and secondly, they speak Spanish from Spain and mine is pretty much Latin Spanish. Same but different. I’ll keep working on it though. Most of the locals that are non connected to the Camino and the Pilgrims don’t interact with you, unless they see you going the wrong way or walking off the Camino, then they start waving their hands and hollering at you. 

As I said it’s been a good day both on the Camino but also in Spain. So until tomorrow I will say Buen Camino

Day 06 Pamplona to Puente La Reina

Date: May 2, 2018

Location: From: Pamplona To: Puente La Reina

Mileage: 23.8 Km/ 14.8 Mi.

Weather: Cold and overcast first part of the day, then warmed a little with sun.

Temperature: 35F in the morning and in the upper 45’s in the afternoonF°

Lodging and Cost: Albergue Puente 15

Highlights: Walking out of town and seeing the city. And being up on Alto Del Perdón seeing the little village of Puente La Reina.

Summary of the Day: 

Got up at 6:00 a.m. and was packed to got by 6:30.when down and had breakfast in the hotel. I hurried to get out by 7:00, because I wanted to catch up with Saul, Debra and Hans. Leaving the city is nice as you walk through and around the college campus. I finally got to the Albergue where they stayed the night before but they had left a few minutes before I got there, but I was worried as I walk faster than they do. I caught up with them about 30 minutes later. We made it up to the summit of Alto Del Perdón. After a lot of picture taking we headed on toward our destination.  There wasn’t anything exceptional about the trail today except that there are so many more Peregrinos this year than the last time I was here. It is making getting a room or a bed much more difficult. Before you couldn’t reserve a bed in an Albergue but now you can and more people are carrying cell phone and booking ahead. We made many stops during the day and finally got to the Albergue around 4:00. They had booked me at the Albergue where they were staying, so I had a bed. We all went to dinner in a small restaurant that served a pilgrim’s meal. The pilgrim’s meals have gone up in price as well since last time. They are anywhere from 12€ to 16€, but they are worth it. The mixed salad alone is worth it. I’ve had it at lunch by its self and was full.

This was a good Walking day with nice trail. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and another day on the Camino and a Buen Camino

Day 05 - Zubiri to Pamplona

Date: May 1, 2018

Location: From: Zubiri To: Pamplona

Mileage: 20.9 Km/13 Mi.

Weather: Cool and off and on rain

Temperature: 38F in the morning and 50’s in the afternoonF°

Lodging and Cost: Hotel Eslava 42  
Highlights: Walking into the city. Seeing the crowds of protesters, because it was May Day, a big Socialist protest movement.They call it “workers day.

Summary of the Day: 

Got up and was out on the trail but 7:00 a.m. I only had a 13 mi. day, and it wasn’t too hard. It was pretty much just a Walking day with nothing exciting happening until I got to Pamplona and then the crowds started to form and the speeches started. I couldn’t understand everything that was said, but the speakers would say something and the crowd would cheer, and I saw a lot of banners with the words socialistas and then a Hammer and a Cicle.

I went on up to my hotel and got checked in and cleaned up. It wasn’t long until Saul, (UK), Hons,, (Germany), and Debra, (Ca.,USA) came in and we all went to have lunch. We looked for a restaurant, but everything was closed due to May Day, so we went to a local alimentatición, (like a quick market) and bought bread, cheese and some type of sandwich goods. We went to the park and ate sandwiches. After we finished they decided to push on to the next little village of Cizur Maior and I’d catch up with them the next morning on the trail somewhere. I went back to my room and got my WiFi going to wait on Karl to get touch for dinner later that evening. The only way that we can communicate is when we have WiFi. Finally Karl got in touch and we were going to meet for dinner. We met in the center of town on the Camino. The problem we had was that it was tapas time and we couldn’t eat dinner until 7:30. We went to the Café Iruña, which is a very famous restaurant. It was a place where Ernest Hemingway used to eat. The meal was about 16€, but it was a three course meal with a bottle of wine. It was well worth the money and the wait. Karl and I sat there and ate and talked until after 9:00 pm. He is a retired school teacher in Denmark and worked with kids that came from bad homes. He is a really nice guy. After dinner he went to his Albergue and I went back to my hotel. We agreed that we will meet tomorrow and move on to the next spot.

It was a pretty uneventful day that turned into something good. We’ll see what tomorrow holds.

Until then Buen Camino

Day 04 - Roncesvalles to Zubiri

Date: April 30, 2018

Location: From: Roncesvalles To: Zubiri

Mileage: 21.9 Km/13.6 Mi.

Weather: Cold Overcast – Turning to rain in the afternoon

Temperature: Lower 50’sF°C

Lodging and Cost: Benta Berri Penson 35

GPS Location: 42.°55.48” N and 1.°3017” W

Highlights: Walking trough the woods early in the morning with the Fog rolling through.

Summary of the Day: 

In the monastery at Roncesvalles they have a rule… lights out at 10:00 light on at 6:00 and a group walking through singing  and playing instruments, there is no exception. Everybody was up and I was able to pack and get out by was cold and foggy again. I told Karl and Saul that I would reserve them rooms in Zubiri. I walked about 3Km to the little town of burguete where I stopped and had breakfast. This morning the trail was over run with people. It’s looking like all the places to stay are filling up fast everyday, because everybody is trying to book days before. This will make it harder to find lodging the farther West we go toward Santiago.

The walk wasn’t that difficult today as it was mostly level and down hill. There were two really nice climbs, one was Alto de Mezquiriz and the other was Pasos de Roldán. The first one would just make you breath hard and strain some. But the second one would not only make you huff and puff the trail was laid down at a bad angle and was littered with a lot of rocks that were at angles that could make you fall. This being said, having them wet it was almost impossible not to fall. I was coming down from the high point toward Zubiri when I stepped on one of those wet angled rocks and I went straight down. I wasn’t hurt but when I got up I felt something wet running down the inside of my pants leg. When I checked it out blood was running down my leg. I went on to Zubiri and went to the Pensiòn that I liked last time only to find it was full. After going to several more with no success one lady told me to go down the street that there was one that had some openings. It was a clean pensión, but as it turned out there was no WiFi and you had to share a bathroom with four other rooms. I won’t stay their again. I had dinner at the main Albergue with,Judy, Debra, jasmine and Tomás. The peregrino meals are generally good and not expensive. They consist of a three course meal, (appetizer, main course, and the desert). After an hour an  a half dinner and its having good conversion, we all headed off to where we were staying.

After talking to a lot of people, everyone feels the same, that now that the Pyrenees are behind us we can get down to the walk West.

Today was a good day and Tomorrow I’ll push to the West and spend the night in Pamplona. Looking forward to getting away from the larger cities.

Day 03 - Orisson to Roncesvalles

Date: April 29, 2018

Location: From: Orisson To: Roncesvalles

Mileage: 17 Km/10.5 mi.

Weather: cold, windy and very heavy fog

Temperature: 40’s F°C

Lodging and Cost: Albergue 10

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Highlights: the climb up through the Pyrenees in heavy fog, and arriving at the Albergue. The only view that I saw was up near the top. It was the Marian shrines to Our Lady.

Summary of the Day: 

I got up at 6:00 this morning and started to pack before breakfast. Everybody else was laying in their bags watching me pack until I mentioned that breakfast was at 7:00 and that they wanted us to start moving on around 7:30 to 7:45, and everybody got a move on.

Breakfast at Orisson is simple, mostly coffee, juice and toast and jam so it doesn’t take long to eat and go. We really needed to move early, because the weather forecast was calling for rain and thunderstorms. The alternative to leaving early is possibly no rain and thunderstorms, but heavy fog with very limited visibility. There were times that I couldn’t see more than 20 or 30 feet out. It was cold with a strong wind blowing across the mountains. I got up near the top when all at once the fog lifted for no more than 5 minutes and over on the summit of another mountain across the valley was the large statue of Our Lady that was put there by the Marian’s. The walk was pretty much the same all the way to the Albergue. It isan old converted and modernized monastery that has several beds, (4 to a cubecles),not expensive and it is clean and quiet. Not a bad deal for 10€. I got the Just as they opened the registration for a bed. Within an hour all the beds were taken and they were turning people away so they had to walk on to the next town, which was just 3 Km/2 miles away. Hopefully there were places available. I paid for a dinner and was planning on dining with a couple people that I met the night before. (Carl from Denmark, and Sean from the UK, London. 

It started to rain again and the fog rolled back in. It looks like the rain is going to continue until next Wednesday. After dinner we all went back to the Albergue and hosptaleros (volunteers in the Albergue), started playing guitars and singing. It was a nice way to send the evening, until 10:00 when the light go out un TIL 6:00 the next morning.

It was a pretty good day. Hopefully tomorrow will be better (no rain)

Having a Buen Camino 

Day 02 - St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson

Date: April 28, 2018

Location: From: St. Jean Pied de Port To: Orisson

Mileage: 8 Km/5 Miles

Weather: Overcast, Heavy fog and near zero visability

Temperature: Lost 50°C

Lodging and Cost: Orisson Alburgue - 38

GPS Location: 43°631” N and 1°1420” W

Highlights: Normally wonderful views in all directions but due to heavy fog visibility was no more than 25 feet

Summary of the Day: 

Started the day off in Pamplona at 6:00 a.m. getting packed up and eating breakfast while I waited for the taxi to come and pick me up so he could take me to St Jean Pied Port to start my walk. He arrived at 8:00, right on time. There’s one thing about the Spanish that you can always count on, and that is they are always on time just about to the minute. The other thing was that he spoke no English at all so it gave me the chance to practice my Spanish. Needless to say, there were times when we just sat there. All in all I did have some good but short conversations. It took us an hour and forty five minutes to get to SJPP and a lot of the drive was in a heavy fog. When we got to the city limits, traffic was backed up all the way through the town so I told him that I would just walk the rest of the way so he wouldn’t have to deal with that. The charge for the shuttle was 120€. Some may thing that is too much for the shuttle, but being a Shuttler for the Appalachian Trail I can tell you that it’s not. He put gas in his car before we left Pamplona. I saw that he put 52 liters in. In Europe petrol is sold by the liter not the gallon and it was 1,22€ per Liter. That comes to a cost for fuel only of 63€. He spent an hour and forty five minutes of his time each way to get me where I needed to go. He made 54€ so I think the cost was reasonable. He let me out and I walked to the Pilgrim’s office and registered and left shortly after for the short walk up to Orisson. It’s not a bad walk, but it is all up hill. It took me an hour and a half to walk up. I also noticed in the register in the Pilgrim’s office that I was the only one from the States. Most people were from France, Germany, Poland, and Korea. I figured that my conversation would be limited today, but then I met up with some Danes from Denmark and they speak English. When I arrived here at the albergue it was packed. A lot were staying and a lot were pushing on to Roncesvalles which is another 17 Km. It’s hard enough to do that, but on the first day and in this weather would be miserable. I’ll do the 17km tomorrow. I’ll have a great dinner and a good nights sleep not to mention a full breakfast with a carry out lunch tomorrow.

Dinner was great tonight. It started with that started with a hot soup an then they brought out the chicken, which was bake, and english peas a carrots. As always there was bread, wine and water. The meals are served family style and everybody sits and talks to one another and gets to know each other. I met Debra, a woman from Washington State, and a couple, Mike and Diane, from believe it or from Atlanta. Mike grew up in Decatur, not too far from my house. 

It has been a great first day on the Camino, although it is cold a predictions of rain, but none so far only heavy fog. Hopefully tomorrow will be better for the walk over the top and down to Roncesvalles.

Until then I’m having a Buen Camino

Day 01 - Atlanta to Pamplona

​Date: April 27, 2018

Location: From: Atlanta To: Pamplona

Mileage: o.o miles walking

Weather: clear and blue skies

Temperature: 61° F

Lodging and Cost: Hotel Eslava 39 €,and 5€ (Breakast) €

GPS Location: 42°49’5” N and 1°38’ 60” W

Highlights: Seeing the cities of Madrid and Pamplona and seeing what has changed in 3 Years

Summary of the Day:

I took the Atlanta airport shuttle from Chattanooga Tn. To the airport which meant that I didn’t need anybody to drive down to Atlanta. One of my plans for coming back and spending time in Spain was to practice my Spanish totally immersed in the language and the culture. Well I didn’t have to wait too long. While in Chattanooga waiting on the bus to arrive a man came up to also catch the bus. He didn’t say much but I knew that he was Hispanic. When the bus finally arrived the driver was asking everybody where they were going and which terminal they needed. When he asked this fellow on some of the questions he had a blank look, that’s when I mustered up the nerve to jump in and help him out. In all the time that I’ve been studying Spanish I’ve never really done anything like that. It really felt good to put all my hard studying to good use even it was as simple as Just helping out with a few questions. I finally got to the airport and after going through the security settled down to wait on my plane. Delta is a good airline, we left right on time, but what was scheduled to be almost 9.5 hour flight, they actually arrived this morning at 7:47 which got us here in 7 hours and 49 minutes. This gave me plenty of time to find my checked items and get a taxi to the train station and get my ticket.

After I got to Pamplona and got checked in to my hotel I went back out and walked all around. I have been having little conversations all after noon. They aren’t long or complicated, just simple things maybe like getting directions to the post office, or going in a store and talking about a product that they have for sale. This is just the first day, so I’m hoping it gets better as the next two months past.

Tomorrow I have a driver picking me up and taking me to Saint Jean Pied Port to start my walk. This could prove interesting as it’s a two hour car trip, and more than likely he won’t speak any English or at least very little.

Now the walk begins…. Buen Camino!

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