The plan for our day 3 was a 27.4 km walk to Larrasoana. We are feeling pretty good after 2 easy days and think we are up to the challenge. We are a bit sad to leave our friend Kathy (like she said we will always be her first Camino friends) behind since she will be walking at a slower pace (she arrived to Santiago 3 weeks after us).
This was much harder than it sounds even with the steep assents and descents of the Pyrenees behind us. This was also our first experience of the 530 am noise makers who insisted on crinkling there plastic bags and wandering about with their head lamps on. Its dark until after 730! We did finally get up and get going about 7 (still dark as you see from the 790 km sign).
We walked 3 km with the head lamp on to the village of Burguete, where there is a bar to get coffee and breakfast. Now it was almost light out and we could proceed more easily on the pathway. There was a bit of drizzle today, but it was brief. We walked along today and after consulting the info sheet we had been given there was supposed to be a supermercado in a town ahead to get some lunch. We had read the Camino rule to never pass the first store or bar in a town as it may be the only one, but here we had to keep walking as we had not seen anything. It was not until the last building of town that we saw the shop. Here we got half a baguette and some laughing cow and chorizo. The other issue we had was we left one of our (inadequate) ponchos on the wet chair we sat on out side the shop and that will need to be replaced.
There are lots of stone bridges that we cross every day. In Zubiri is it was believed that the Gothic bridge over the River Arga was able to rid animals of rabies by driving the livestock three time around its central pillar and this was attributed to the relics of St Quiteria which are buried in the abutment of the bridge. By now we are pretty tired and sore. Daniel was beginning to have some trouble with his right foot (previous injury in Italy last year) as it was now swelling in the shoe and getting pretty painful and blistered.
Larrasona is also entered over a bridge however this one was know as the bandits bridge as narrow passing places like this were favored to rob pilgrims. This town really has nothing except the Municipal Albergue, which is very basic, one restaurant catering exclusive to pilgrims, and a small shop/bar selling the usual fare of cookies, chips, cup o noodle etc.
The small metal bunk beds were very uncomfortable, made noise and shuddered when anyone moved, and so Daniel had no sleep. The “kitchen” is pretty basic as well and there is really nothing to cook if you did not bring supplies (lesson learned). There is only 10 bunks in the heated main building and so we were luckier than those in the one huge room in the overflow “warehouse”where it was apparently also very cold. The rainy weather today made drying the laundry a challenge. The weather also has been a bit dreary and fairly cold in the evening. We had left our jackets in Madrid and had planned to buy something if we needed it much later…like in Galicia. Checking the web there is a Decathlon sporting good store near Pamplona and we will stock up there on better ponchos and warmer clothes.
Luckily today we only have a short 16.5 km to the city of Pamplona. Dan made it to Larrasona with out walking sticks, but he will need to get some ASAP. When used properly they really do make a huge difference. We had always made fun of the ‘two stick” hikers in the past.
Today’s route is more urban than the last two days, quickly passing into the suburbs of Pamplona, but not before one short sharp climb out of Larrasoana. There are a few small villages along the way, but like a lot of others Pamplona is all we can see in our sights today.
Arriving to the city we opted for the slightly longer bicycle route as it was less on the main roads, but still allowed great views of the old city walls and entry thru the French gate. The old city is cobbled and a bit of a maze of streets. The line of yellow arrows is pretty elementary to follow, but despite this many locals stopped us to ask where we were from and to point us in the “correct direction” for the Camnio.
In most of the major towns and cities on the route the Camino passes the pilgrim/tourist office and the Cathedral. We stopped for a map of the city to orient ourselves in order to locate the hotel we had booked for a break from the dorms and to get some privacy. It was just on the edge of the old town and 100 meters from the bus we needed to get to the Decathelon. There are signs of the running of the bulls everywhere too.
We also stopped into the very well stocked Pilgrim’s store right near the Cathedral to get Daniel some Leki poles and some physiotherapy tape to help deal with his increasingly painful foot issues. Here we ran into our friend from day 1 Australian Teresa!
We then took the city bus about 5 km out of town to Decathlon! Here we bought some running tights to keep our legs warm in the mornings as we both walked in shorts, some packable lightweight down jackets, and a some better quality rain ponchos (the key is very long and with arms). We enjoyed the night by ourselves and some sight seeing in the city.
The plan today it to make it 24.2 km to Puenta la Reina and we again made a reservation in the town as Daniel was not doing to well with the pain of walking and we did not want to have to search around for a place to stay. It was hard enough walking that far in pain, but to have to do it with the prospect of no sleep we thought was impossible.
We stopped on the way out of town for breakfast and the streets were wet from the rain in the night. The route from Pamplona is a mixture of countryside and busy roads, and one of the best views that you are ever likely to have of Pamplona is from the Alto del Perdon. The route is well marked out of the city and takes you across some local parks before heading into a small valley. Just after leaving the city the light rain started so new ponchos on.
The first and easiest climb of today brings you to Cizur Menor a small village and suburb of Pamplona. Here the heavy rain for the most part held off, but it did drizzle intermittently. Shortly after leaving Cizur Menor is the hardest climb and then decent of the day, however the views at the top are well worth the effort. The climb up the Alto del Perdon is on a rocky slippery path, which is now a bit muddy from the rain.
We took a break at the top for a snack, before heading down the descent described as “dangerous underfoot”. The decent is steep, uneven, and is composed of loose gravel and stones. They were not kidding it is about a km of steep large loose rocks and slowed our progress significantly.
There was a bit more rain the rest of the day, but not too bad. Daniel was not doing particularly well, but we had managed to do a pretty good taping job on his foot and it seemed no worse.
Arriving to Puenta la Reina the Camino passed thru the main street and directly past the bar/ hotel where we were staying. This was lucky since now Daniel was really struggling and walking at about half our normal pace. They conveniently also had very good tapas so we did not have to go to far! Sitting here we could watch all the action and the other pilgrims walking by.
Very nearby was the main church, which was the only one open, but offered a stamp. The more famous and ancient buildings were all closed. They had this great map with pins for where all the pilgrims came from.
At the end of the town is the Romanesque bridge, Puente de los Peregrinos. This is the most famous bridge along the Camino Frances. “This town was granted a charter in 1122 by Alfonso el Batallador to encourage re-population. At that time a wall encircled the new layout of parallel streets perpendicular to the river. In 1142 King Garcia handed the town over to the Knights Templar who owned the town until they were outlawed and their expulsion from Spain in the early 14th century. ”
Our overall plan is to try to keep our days to under 25 km despite the traditional routes that can be as long as 35 km. We have to meet Gillian near to Leon, Spain October 3, which is in 16 days and 350 km away. This is 22 km per day if we do not take a rest day and this leaves us the lee way for some shorter days now if needed to recover.
Today the Camino follows closely to the N11 and climbs steeply to 450m after leaving Puente la Reina drops back to 400m then climbs again to 500m this time, and finally drops to about 430m entering Estella after 21.7 km.
This day is much quieter than the last two now that we are away from Pamplona, most of today is along tracks through farmland and sometimes on the special pilgrims footpaths that is constructed from compacted earth.
Arriving to Estella we were treated to a reenactment of a famous battle here to take the bridge. There were a lot of soldiers, horses, and guns firing.
We stayed here at the municipal Alberge, which is just as you enter the town. This place was basic, but did not have a kitchen unfortunately. They had not a bad little garden out back to relax and hang out the washing. We did some walking about to see the sights, but all of the churches and the “Palais of the kings” were closed.
We headed over “the bridge” with a small group to get another mediocre dinner that the bars serve to the pilgrims. No wonder you can loose weight here. We walk for 5 hours and then eat salad for dinner.
From here we are headed to Los Arcos. Leaving the town of Estella and about 2 km later we saw a decathlon in the distance, but as it was only 7 am and so we looked at it longingly! We decided to try to get back here to try to get Daniel a bigger pair of shoes.
The big event of the day was over at 8 am. We arrived after 3 km at one of the most talked about sights on the Camino. There is a wine fountain “Fuente del Vino” shortly after leaving the main part of the town of Ayegui at the Bodegas Irache. They have been making wine since 1891 and since 1991 they have offered 1000 liters of wine per day to the passing pilgrims. The weather has turned for the better and we are getting a good tan.
The arrival to Los Arcos was long and slow with Daniel really struggling. We walked all the way thru the town to arrive at the Municipal Albergue , which is again run by the Dutch. We were lucky again to score a room with only 2 bunks. But as this place was obviously a school at one point it is a maze of rooms packed with bunks. This also means there are very few bathrooms for so many people. They did have some cool things though like charging lockers where you could lock up your phone or camera and there is a post for the USB cord and a bank of plugs for them. There was vending machines selling useful things like bandages, beer, and snacks.
Daniel and I took the bus 20 minutes back (4 1/2 hours to walk here) to near to Estella and went to the Decathlon again to buy him a larger pair of walking shoes and as well we got groceries here since there is no supermarket in Los Arcos. This did not take too long, but as we had to wait 2 1/2 hours for the bus back. We arrived back after dark, but at least we had food to make dinner.
Today we though we had it made with the new shoes…….We had 18.5 km to Viana, which is the prescribed destination for this stage, but continued on another 9.5 KM to Logrono. This is a much larger city, a lot of our friends were going there, and there was a festival on.
Although the day starts at about 450 meters and finishes at 400 meters the high point of the day is nearly 600 meters and it is a very hilly day with many ups and downs; therefore it was harder than it appeared on the map.
These people were playing in the middle of no where and raking in the cash!
“Viana was built on a Roman settlement and in 1219 eight villages were combined to create the town by Sancho VII ‘the Strong”. In 1507 Cesare Borgia was killed nearby in the battle of Mendavia. An extravagant mausoleum was built for him in the church of Santa Maria, however this was desecrated at the end of the 17th century and his remains were re-interred in a modest tomb outside.”
We stopped here in Viana for a snack, but then continued on. This seemed like good plan, but as the day went on it got worse and worse for Daniel. This got to the point that instead of our normal 5 km/hour we were doing less than half that. This made for a very long last 5 km. Daniel was hobbling and in severe pain. Making it worse was that you can see the city from so far away. It is for almost the whole 5 km that you think you are almost there.
“The Camino enters the main part of Logrono over the impressive, though narrow, “Bridge of Stone” and turns right at the end down Rua Vieja. ” Walking into and out of cities along the Camino are the only times that it is easy to get lost. In the countryside the large yellow arrows are easy to see, however the sign posting in the cities is not as clear. Often there are smaller arrows on the sides of buildings or on trees, though the most common marking is by way of scallop shells on the pavements. It is almost impossible to get lost for long – if you are far off the way locals will stop you and point you in the right direction.
“By the time you walk into Logrono, you have entered the Rioja region famous for its wines. It is a busy university city, first inhabited by the Roman, then the Celts. From the 10th century the Kings of Castile and Navarre fought for possession of the town. There is enough to keep you entertained for at least a day and is a common resting point for many pilgrims.”
Lucky for us there was a large new Albergue just after the bridge. We managed again to get a pod with only 1 bunk bed for 2! They were also curtain “doors’ which added some privacy. Our side had about 20 pods of 2 bunks. The Jack and Jill concept for the bathrooms in the newer places is not that great. Strange men in general and not great to share showers and toilets with. We were glad to catch up with some of our Camino family. There is a real sense of community here on the way. Many people arrived alone, bur soon hooked up with others to walk with. These are the people you can depend on and ask for help. They are the ones that feel and share your pain. They are the friendly familiar face you see on the street in a foreign city.
There is a huge festival here over the next few days. The streets are packed with families and there are stages with bands in various locations. Many of the people we are walking with will stay here for the party and a rest day after. So for us getting up in the morning at 8 everyone else was still drunk and/or asleep. The city streets were a bit of a mess, but the crews were out with fire hoses washing down the streets and plazas.