Homer's Travels: Camino De Santiago - Zubiri To Pamplona

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Zubiri To Pamplona

I was awakened by early risers like I'd been in Roncesvalles.  This would be the norm along the Camino.  Some people just can't be quiet in the morning.  I looked up and saw that GV was still asleep which was good enough for me so I rolled over and tried to sleep some more.  Sometime shortly after 6:00 AM I saw GV getting up and figured I'd better get a move on too.  I often did that, looked around to see if other pilgrims were moving yet before I decided to get up or not.  I was up and out of there despite hobbling around like an invalid.  I eventually learned how to be on the Camino fifteen to twenty minutes after waking up.

I was really walking slowly this morning.  My calves were screaming in protest, an aftereffect of the climb over the Pyrenees, I'm sure.  My first stop was the next town, Larrasoaña, where I went in search of a restaurant, store, or bakery.  I'd about given up when a man in a truck waved me over and asked if I was looking for food.  He pointed me down a side street and wished me a Buen Camino (a traditional pilgrim greeting of Good Camino).  I thanked him and walked down the street to an open bakery where I bought ... you guessed it, a ham sandwich.  There was only one baguette left and when some kids came in they were disappointed that the store didn't have any bread.  I told the store owner that I only needed half of the baguette and they could have the rest.  She smiled and made the bocadillo with a little extra love.  I left with my bocadillo and a bottle of orange juice and headed on my way.

The Camino here was a narrow stone pathway that went through farm fields with horses, cows, and sheep.  Planted fields were mostly wheat or hay.  On occasion the Camino would pass through sleepy little hamlets that looked right out the middle ages ... which they probably were.  You usually could see the town coming by the tallest structure in the town - a church bell tower.  In Iowa/Nebraska it's water towers - in Spain it's bell towers.  Walking through towns added variety to the walk and I always welcomed arriving to another hamlet.

I reached the village of Zabaldika (population: 29).  I ran into DO here.  He told me that he, MO, and EN were heading for Cizar Menor but that MO was having issues with her knees and she may stop in Pamplona for a few days to recuperate instead.  I told him I was going to Pamplona.  It was closer and I wanted to see the city where the running of the bulls took place.

I visited a 13th century church in Zabaldika.  They did a good job of explaining everything.  They offered descriptions in at least a dozen languages.  I took some pictures and left a prayer note next to the Crucified Jesus. The caretaker said I could go up the bell tower to see one of the oldest bells in the region.  My legs didn't think it was worth it so I skipped the staircase up the bell tower.

The caretakers wished me a Buen Camino, gave me a map of Pamplona, and told me that it was all down hill from there.  They were sort of right but there were some up and down on the way to Pamplona.  It was also one of the hottest days of my Camino.  I reached Huarte the first of several suburban towns outside of Pamplona.  The Camino became more urban here.  I stopped for my second ice cream (my first on the camino).  From this point on I would have at least one ice cream bar a day until I left Spain.  This particular one was a dulce de leche bar.  For some unknown reason dulce de leche ice cream would be my preferred flavor in Spain (back in the States I didn't care for it much being a chocolate ice cream kind of guy).

I finished my ice cream as I continued on towards Pamplona.  As I walked two elderly women stopped me and asked me if I was a pilgrim on the way to Santiago de Compostela.  I said I was and they asked me to pray for them in Santiago.  I said I would.  There is often little interaction between pilgrims and non-pilgrims.  They acknowledged our hellos but rarely initiated the greetings.  I suppose most people living along the Camino are tired of all us pilgrims walking past their front doors.  These two ladies were the exception that gave the Camino that little something special.

I arrived in Pamplona and followed the shells embedded in the street to the Albergue.  I stood in line to check in behind a girl who I thought was from either Australia or New Zealand.  Turns out I was wrong and a few days later I would find out how bad I am at recognizing accents.

I settled in, finding a bottom bunk.  I was excited to see a washing machine and drier.  After getting myself clean I washed a load of laundry.  I hand washed a few of my clothes along the Camino but I never felt like I was getting the clothes clean.  Machines always made the clothes feel cleaner.

I wandered around looking for MO, wondering if she stopped in Pamplona.  I never saw her and figured she probably checked into a hotel to let her knees recuperate.  I walked around the city taking in the sights and visiting the cathedral.  It was not the easiest thing to do as Pamplona has lots of hills and my legs were a little on the sore and weak side.  I found a place to eat and ate at the bar alone - not my favorite pastime.  I bought some fruit and a couple muffins for the next day.  I stopped at another shop to buy water.  The customer ahead of me had a 1.5 liter bottle of water.  The store owner asked if he needed a bag and held open a plastic bag.  The customer dropped the bottle into the bag.  The bottle promptly went through the bag and hit the floor just missing his foot.  They all laughed and the customer paid and left.  I walked up with my 1.5 liter bottle of water and the owner asked if I wanted a bag.  We paused for a second and started laughing.  I politely said no.

I returned to the albergue.  Everyone that I'd heard speaking English earlier were out and about and I sat in my bunk feeling that lonely feeling creep back.  The Camino was turning out to be a lonely place.  Right at the low point of the night for me, a guy a couple bunks over introduced himself, FX.  Our conversation helped me get out of  the minor funk I was in.  He was from Germany and was having a hard time.  He said he had taken bad advice and bought the wrong boots.  His feet were toast.  He wasn't sure if he would make it any further.  I never saw him again.

Later that night, when everyone was trying to sleep, an Italian couple were in their bunks gabbing away in a loud whisper.  I got fed up and said "Silencio por favor."  This also triggered the Dutch girl in the upper bunk to add "If you want to talk get a hotel room or go out to a restaurant or something."  The Italian woman responded with "Are you talking to me?" to which I responded "You're the only one talking."  They quieted down ... for about thirty seconds before they started to talk in a slightly quieter voice followed by load snoring.  They then had the gall to complain when we all got up at 6:00 AM.  I never saw them again either which was just fine with me.

I'd survived day three, the first 'Wall' was behind me.  Onward ...

Total Distance: 13.3 Miles (21.4 km)
Total Time: 5 hours 22 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 2,066 ft (629.72 m)
Total Elevation Down: 2,321 ft (707.44 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]


  1. Oh my goodness! How many ham sandwiches can a guy eat? :) Good for you sticking up for yourself and saying 'sh! please!" to the noisy people!

  2. What is it with Pamplona and water bottles?? Saw or rather heard one that fell from a balcony...the broha from that was impressive...fortunately as in your case no one actually got hurt...just wet! Glad to hear you had good luck in Larasoana...I hated that place!! Never found the bar, bakery or bathroom!! Was a rough morning for me! But...learned something from it..so all was not a loss!

  3. Miss MC: In northern Spain, there is really no limit to the number of ham sandwiches you can have.

    KSAM: Larasoana was frustrating for me as well. If it weren't for the nice truck driver I would have given up and headed out of town hungry.