Return to Pamplona

Saturday, June 4, 2016
Day 4
Zubiri to Pamplona

Pamplona of course was one of the, if not the, favorite places of Ernest Hemingway. You find traces of him all over town–his favorite hotel, his favorite bar, his favorite…. It was fun catching up with him late at night in “his” bar.

After our brutal walk from Roncesvalles to Zubiri, we decided to take the bus to Pamplona. At the bus stop we met a number of other pilgrims who were also ready for a ride rather than a walk.

We had stopped overnight in Pamplona on our journey from Madrid to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, but had had time only to visit the Church of St. Saturnin.  Before we could explore more of Pamplona, we had housekeeping to do–laundry. After that, we went to a club to hear a Spanish singer-songwriter named Pablo Carbonell. Great fun!  Dinner at almost midnight in “Hemingway’s bar” on the Plaza de Castille.

Steps Today: 10,791

Walking the Walk

The final descent to Zubiri was all downhill slopes of shale and rock like this.

Friday, June 3
Day 3
Roncesvalles to Zubiri

This day was walking, all day.  Twelve hours of walking.

Much too ambitious a day for me. I was ready to call it quits at about 3 pm, but James wanted to continue, so we did. The last descent was steep, over shale and rock that was slippery and super dangerous. I only hoped to get to Zubiri by nightfall, and we did, around 9 pm. An amazing number of steps for me. I usually only walk around 5,000 steps on an average  day.

Steps Today: 49,806

Please see more photos at Pics from June 3rd, 2016.

Roncesvalles Means Charlemagne, Roland, and Sancho the Strong


Thursday, June 2, 2016
Day 2
Valcarlos to Roncesvalles

In Roncesvalles, history comes alive. This is where Roland, of the famous Song of Roland, fought his last battle for Charlemagne and died. Here too 7’2″ King Sancho “the Strong” of Navarre, who battled  to expel  the  Moors from Southern Spain, is buried. It’s a tiny town but packed with history.

I woke up this morning with a swollen arm, a legacy of my cancer surgery (lymphadema). That means no more weight (backpack) on my shoulder for a while. I also doubt I could have made the steep climb up the mountain. So we rode a taxi in comfort from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles and spent the day exploring the town.

Steps Today: 11,242

There are some additional photos at June 2, 2016: Valcarlos to Roncesvalles.

And We’re Off!

(Photo by Leon at the Pilgrim’s Office)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Day 1
St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, to Valcarlos, Spain

In James Michener’s Iberia, he says that all Medieval pilgrims had four essential items: a warm cloak that could also be used as a blanket or pillow; an eight-foot staff for walking and for keeping off aggressive dogs, spangled with gourds used to hold drinking water; sturdy sandals; and a wide brimmed floppy hat. As we set off on our journey from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, we are not that different from those earlier pilgrims. We have our impermeable jackets on or strapped to our backpacks. Our walking sticks, while not eight feet long, are fairly tall. Instead of gourds, we have fancy new hydration (water) packs, but they serve the same purpose as the gourds. Back in Houston we spent a lot of time trying to locate the right, sturdy but comfortable, hiking boots. And we both have our hats. Mine is wide brimmed. James’s can more correctly be deemed “jaunty.” You’ll see it in a future post. And of course we both carry our cockle shells, mine affixed to my backpack.

This was a very rough day for me. More steps than ever, many of them uphill. I was ready to quit 2/3rds of the way to Valcarlos, but James urged me on and I finally straggled in quite late.

Steps Today: 28,164

St. James the Pilgrim

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Pamplona to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France
Camino Day Minus 1

In Pamplona this morning, we visited Saint Saturnin church. St Saturnin proselitized in Pamplona and converted the first Christians there. He was later martyred. The statue of St James the Pilgrim is one of many beautiful statues in the church, including one of Mary, the Virgin of the Camino, dating from 1487.

Steps Today: 10,749

Yes, We Drank the Whole Thing

Monday, May 30, 2016
Madrid to Soria to Pamplona
Camino Day Minus 2

Our first night in Spain, and we were tired after following up the flight to Madrid with a bus ride to Pamplona.

After checking in at our hotel, we took a nap. Then up and out for dinner. Thank goodness the Spanish eat late. We found a nice neighborhood restaurant with a “Menu of the Day” that came with wine, beer, or bottled water. James asked for beer, but I went for the wine. The waiter brought a full bottle of a Navarrese wine.

I asked, “Am I supposed to have a glass of this?”

He replied, “The bottle comes with the meal.”

So, yes, we drank the whole thing. James helped. The best sleep aid possible for two jet-lagged pilgrims.