A Pilgrim’s Day
We had a very pleasant day for walking. Very cool, but sunny. We had flat dirt and gravel roads so we made very good time. Today I thought I’d just write about our daily routine.
Each morning we are up between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. We put on our clothes and start to pack up by the light of our headlamps. By 6 a.m. it is permitted to turn on the overhead lights. We double check for belongings, claim our “boots” and trekking poles and set off. We either find a bar serving breakfast before we leave town or walk in to the next town to find breakfast.
Our favorite foods for the morning are some sort of egg sandwich or egg quiche, cafe con leche, fresh orange juice, and a shared chocolate croissant.
We hit the Camino, using our headlamps to find the way markers which are either yellow arrows or the Camino shell symbol. It’s very pleasing to head out in the pre-dawn and start getting the kilometers behind us. Dawn comes from behind us since we are heading west but if we turn around the view is beautiful. Around 8 a.m. my Fitbit will tell me I hit my daily goal (In Austin) of 9000 steps. It has recorded 35,319 steps so far today.
We walk on until we hit a village where we might eat breakfast or find a bathroom. Then we keep going, with occasional breaks for water or to peel off some clothing layers, until we reach our destination town.
Once we reach town we pick an albergue for the night and get in line to register and pay for a bed.
First order of business at the albergue is to shower and change into our clean outfit. Second order of business is washing clothes, either by hand or waiting for a turn with the washing machine if there is one. Then we need to pin the clothes up on the clothesline for drying and hope for sunny weather. Today we had to pull all the clothes in and hang them from our bunk because of intermittent showers
Yay, the chores are done. Time for food – either lunch if we haven’t picnicked on the way, or drink and snack. The bars stop serving food from 4:30-7:00 so we need to get out before asap.
After lunch we can rest, check on the laundry or go sightseeing/shopping. Frequent destinations are the pharmacy, grocery, and churches. We also just hang out at the albergue. Some of them have beer in the vending machines and patios or courtyards for communal gathering.
Then it’s time for dinner and perhaps a church service. Tonight I think we will go for a pilgrim blessing before dinner. Bedtime is before 10 because the albergues lock the doors and lights are out. Put in the ear plugs and put on the eye mask and hope for a good night’s sleep!
We got a great start out this morning after breakfast in town. A little later than we had been trending, but today’s distance was only 20 km.
The terrain gradually changed from vineyards to plowed red clay fields. We passed (or were passed by) a number of tractors pulling small trailers, headed out for grape harvesting. There were a few hops fields and a solar panel field.
We arrived shortly after noon and considered moving on to another town, but it didn’t seem to buy us anything and I have caught a cold and needed a rest. We have ensconced ourselves at an albergue run by Cistercian nuns and housed in a monastery. It doesn’t quite have the mid-cons of some of the other albergues we’ve stayed at but it does have a beautiful gathering room with fireplace and exposed wooden beam ceiling.
We had a big lunch, followed by a nap and then Vespers church service next door. For dinner we went to a supermarket and bought soup and salad which we cooked up in the albergue kitchen. Dinner probably cost 4 euros.
The weather has turned quite cold. I’m not sure we hit 60F today. With most of my layers on I am still cold walking around town. Fortunately, when trekking the camino we stay quite warm through exertion.
We’re still a few days out from Burgos where we are planning a rest day (in a hotel!!!!). Of course, a rest day means we’ll have to walk a double day later on because we didn’t think of adding rest days in when booking our return flight.
That’s all for now. Time to enjoy the fire.
It was a long day and not a very interesting one. We are exhausted so I’m just going to post a few photos. It was the second longest distance for a stage today at almost 29km. We walked from 6:30am until 3.
Today is day 7 out of 33+. We were on the road by 6:45 to get a head start on our first long day. We’ll have another long one tomorrow.
The countryside is changing. The hills are lower and browner, but still tons of grapes and olives. We passed some men harvesting green grapes this morning. Rich may or may not have picked some grapes along the way 😉
We ate breakfast 2 towns in. Super-yokey fried eggs sopped up with baguette, a chocolate pastry, fresh orange juice and cafe con leche. It was delicious and I was starving.
We took a break in Viana and ended up in the middle of a parade. Apparently there was a corrida de toros (bull running) today at 1 pm. We decided not to stay for the running of the bulls and bought some bocadillos (baguette sandwiches) of dried ham, cheese, and roasted green pepper for a picnic lunch (yum. I like the roasted pepper.)
It was a hot afternoon, and so a tough finish to today’s stage. Tonight there’s some fellowship and music in the courtyard, along with soaking of feet. So wonderful! A couple from Denmark is leading singing along with guitar. …John Denver Take Me Home, now Simon and Garfunkel. Everyone is singing along. Rich knows all these songs and is lending his voice. Here come the Beatles!
We made it to today’s destination very early today, by 1:30, so we have been enjoying the sun and a beer on the patio of the alburgue and waiting for our turn with the washing machine.
Last night in Estella we visited a church/fortress for some spiritual time. Then we browsed through some grocers and bought a few snacks for today’s picnic lunch (olives, chocolate cookies and fruit).
Estella reminded me of some of the Italian cities we’ve visited. We crossed over the river into narrow streets filled with all sorts of fascination shops until we got to a public square lined with restaurants with cafe tables. There we enjoyed a “pilgrim meal” for dinner.
The pilgrim meal is akin to the tourist menu that you find in Europe. It usually includes a main dish, bread, water, wine, and often dessert too. Last night was scrumptious veal steak, French fries, small salty roasted green peppers, a fried egg and spaghetti with tomato sauce. The wine was extra but is so good and so cheap. 3 euros for a bottle of delicious vino tinto.
We hadn’t lunched prior to arriving in Estella yesterday so after registering at the albergue we went to the bar across the street and had 2 glasses each of beer with lemonade, a huge salada mixta and “nuggets de pollo”. The beer/lemonade combo is very refreshing.
Today’s walk began with breakfast at a cafe in a gas station where we also purchased a baguette, Spanish chorizo and some sliced cheese for a picnic lunch. The first attraction on the way was a stop at a monastery where there is a wine fountain that literally dispensed wine from a spigot.
After the wine fount the trail split and we took the more elevated trail that wound through woodlands and provided beautiful vistas. It was nice to get a bit more solitude in this stretch.
We picnicked at the ruins of a pilgrim hostel built in 950. We could also see edifices perched on top of distant peaks. I don’t know if they were castles or monasteries but looked to be something of that sort.
The countryside continues to be fallow grain fields, vineyards and olive groves. I am extremely envious of some of the vegetable gardens we pass.
BTW, my hip behaved itself, but this albergue offers massages so I signed up for one. Our walk to Longrono tomorrow is very long, over 29 km.
We are encountering new pilgrims everyday. Today at breakfast (awesome espresso coffee and chocolate pastry in the gas station) we met a young lady from Cardiff, Wales. We are also meeting up with some of the same pilgrims again and again, getting to know them better. The Brazilians seem to be multiplying. 😉
I have some video of a violin and accordion duo that were performing along the trail junction today. So much fun. A couple of pilgrims started dancing. Unfortunately I can’t get it to upload yet.
Today was not such a Buen Camino. My head was down most of the day and I really struggled to make it.
The morning started out innocuously. We were in the trail at 7 and watched the dawn as we walked along some red cliffs. It was only as we hit the first rise that I realized that I hadn’t seen some of my clothes as I packed up this morning. We soon figured out that Rich hadn’t recognized some of my things when he was bringing in the laundry last night and some of my wash has been left behind on the drying line at the albergue.
I left my pack and trekking poles with Rich and ran a number of miles back to town, retrieved my belongings and ran back to Rich. This put us at the back of the pack and I was concerned about trying to catch back up. I soon found out that I had injured my right leg in the run. I could barely move my leg due to pain in my hip area. It was very painful and I wondered if this was the end of my Camino. I kept staggering along and we made the first town and stopped in a bar for breakfast and a couple of Advil.
Today was supposed to be an easier stage of the Camino but we pilgrims are beginning to realize that we didn’t really understand how hard this trek is. Nothing is “easy”.
Today’s route took us past more vineyards and olive orchards and through some really nice towns. Rich gathered some figs and apples from trees along the way. Part of the trail was an old Roman road which is interesting from a historical perspective but pretty hard on the knees. As Rich put it “the Romans need to send out the maintenance crew”.
Tonight’s albergue is riverside and we’re about to go out and explore this extremely picturesque town.
Last night Pamplona had a festival. The streets were crowded with vendors, musicians and families. Rich and I walked around the old city and caught part of a symphony and choir concert in the large square. Everyone was dressed in jackets and scarves as the temperature was 14 c.
This morning’s walk was another damp one with a steady drizzle and muddy trails. It was a long uphill followed by a long down hill. The rain cleared out and we got some sun this afternoon. The countryside transitioned from plowed under fields or drying fields of sunflowers to vinyards and olive groves. Met 2 pilgrims from Florida who are very concerned about the hurricane and their families.
I have blisters on top of blisters on my pinkie toe. Really gross and I hope I can get it healed.
It’s really kind of neat on the open stretches of trail to look ahead and see the parade of pilgrims ahead and behind. There are 300! on the same stage as us. It makes a very colorful parade when all the differently hued rain ponchos are out.
We took a detour with an extra 3 km to visit an ancient church used by the Templars.
We left Zubiri this morning at 7 am in a light rain, headed to Pamplona. It was an “easy day” as far as the Camino goes, not too many ascents or descents and only 20.9 km.
We intended to walk 5 km and then get breakfast at a cafe in the next village, but it turns out the shop was closed because everyone was sleeping off a town festival that happened the night before. So, we walked on another 5 km to a really nice riverside pilgrim cafe where quite a number of fellow pilgrims were having coffee too.
Today’s walk followed the river Arga for the most part. It wasn’t as scenic, but Pamplona sure seems to be. We are staying inside the walled city in another albergue. By chance today we ended up walking with Annli from Denmark who we met in the final (awful) descent to Roncesvalles the first day. We ended up in the same dormitory this afternoon and shared a meal with her.
We finally have some halfway decent wi-if so I’ve been catching up electronically. Rich is napping. Our evening plans are exploring Pamplona, maybe a little pizza, and laundry.
Yesterday was about conquering the mountain… today about enduring the pain.
We almost didn’t get a bed last night because there are a lot of pilgrims walking with us and the hostels fill up. Consequently we left Roncesvalles this morning at 7 am., before the sun came up, walking by the lights of our headlamps to make sure we would get to Zubiri early. It was very cold at the start and we were all bundled up in jackets. We walked 24 km today, up and down, alternating between woodlands, pastures, and small towns.
The towns were cute, with white-washed buildings with red tile roofs, dark wooden shutters and window boxes of cascading red begonias. The trail has lots of delicious wild blackberries growing along side it, which a lot of the pilgrims seem to be enjoying.
The pain of walking kept increasing as the day wore on. The down hills are the worst because of knee pain. Thank goodness we packed the trekking poles at the last minute because I’m not sure I could do this camino without them. This afternoon after beer/wine at a bar we’ve been cleaning up and hopefully now we can just chill out until dinner. We are all so sore that one of the other pilgrims described the way we walk as the “camino shuffle”.
We learned a fun fact last night from a Spanish pilgrim who dined at our table. He says the country that has the most pilgrims on the camino these days is South Korea!
Note: The wifi at the albergues has been really slow so I haven’t been able to upload photos 🙁