Day 6 – 22nd September 2015, Zubiri to Pamplona.
I forgot to mention in the last post that the cumulative total distance I have walked along the Camino de Santiago so far (St. Jean Pied de Port to Zubiri) is 47 km.
I promised a shorter blog post this time didn’t I? Well, the day didn’t get off to the best of starts really after a night of very little sleep, owing to the snorer from hell, who was sleeping in the bottom bunk diagonally opposite. I felt more sorry for Alan sleeping on the bunk above him and Laurie, who was in the adjacent bunk. The noise was deafening, interspersed with worrying long periods of silence (perhaps, it could be a case of sleep apnoea?) and then a rather bizarre form of sleep-singing, worthy of the Eurovision song contest. I have heard that pilgrims are supposed to suffer along the Camino, but frankly, this was ridiculous!
So, stumbling bleary eyed into the shower, I gradually got myself ready, packed up my stuff and then creaked my way down the stairs to join a less of an insane queue for breakfast. Breakfast was great as I could even have cereal, yoghurt and fruit salad today – a refreshing change from dry, hard toast or baguette.
Today’s target destination was Pamplona, and according to the famous guidebook by John Brierley, there did not appear to be any contours on the map and the route appeared to wind alongside the Rio Arga. For those peregrinos/peregrinas, who know, the John Brierley guidebooks are a bit like a pilgrim’s bible, and people have a tendency to believe it completely. However, unless we have entered a region where some weird quantum physics occurs and kilometer distances expand and hills manifest and change, when one looks at them or for them, I did wonder whether the maps were entirely accurate.
Setting off from Zubiri, we had to skirt round a Magnesium plant, which gave my knees a bit of a morning workout down some long, steep steps. It wasn’t the most picturesque of landscapes, but then we were through that fairly quickly and ambled along country lanes through the fields, past Larasoana and Akerreta, the latter village contained a pension that featured in the film The Way. If you see if you will recognise it. Between Akerreta and Zuriain slate grey clouds gathered and the sky closed in. It was time for me to unleash the bright Tangerine, rain poncho! Alan came up behind me and said he could tell who it was a mile off. The poncho did the job and kept the rain off (thanks Brett!). Soon, I could feel a coffee coming on, so we stopped at Cafe La Parada in Zuriain, by a charming bridge over the river. Pretty much every pilgrim within a five mile radius must have decided to stop there as well. I spotted a few familiar faces!
Feeling a bit peckish, I enjoyed a slice of spinach tortilla (thinking this would give me the strength of Popeye) with my coffee and sat back and watched my fellow pilgrims graze. The scene reminded me of many a watering hole in Africa, frequented by gazelles, zebras and the odd elephant!
The next stage of the journey was a tad non-descript really, we followed a path alongside the river for a while until Zabaldika. I reflected on the conversation I enjoyed with Laurie the day before and mulled over the idea that the Camino had been calling healers to walk the route at this time, and particularly those aware of reiki or perhaps, when healers practice reiki a lot, intuition is heightened sufficiently for them to hear the call of the Camino. Or, maybe the reality is not either or but both and….
These mental gymnastics accompanied me along the winding pathway, following the contours of hills from where I could see Huarte and Pamplona in the distance. The descent into the city, seemed long and drawn out but we had the pleasure of walking through the medieval Trinidad de Arre, with its charming stone bridge. There we popped in for a stamp for our pilgrim’s credencial (passport), before trudging into Pamplona itself. Immediately impressed by the fortifications, we searched onward for signs of the Camino trail and eventually found the metal, shell like studs in the pavement that pointed the way for a while. We bumped into Stephanie, which was fortuitous because we were all staying in the same hotel (to catch up on sleep). Stephanie had told us about the Hotel Arriazu and we (Alan, Laurie and I), managed to book using http://www.booking.com (booking dot yeah!)
Hotel Arriazu was tucked down a narrow street a stone’s throw from the Plaza Castille and was just what the doctor ordered! A lovely, comfy room, hot showers, good value and convenient for the centre of town. After the obligatory showering and handwashing of laundry (is this beginning to sound like a strange religious sect?), the happy band of travellers ventured into the square for dinner at Cafe Irun. The food was great but service slow (I was probably still feeling in London mode at that point).
I was too tired to do any sight-seeing that evening so went back to the hotel to enjoy some sleep. I must have nodded off as soon as my head hit the pillow…
…watch this space for what happened next.
Peace, love and light,
P.S. On this leg of the Camino from Zubiri to Pamplona, I walked 20.9 km, making the cumulative total 67.9 km.