Homer's Travels: Camino 2023 - Roncesvalles To Torres Del Rio

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Camino 2023 - Roncesvalles To Torres Del Rio

It was raining again as we left Roncesvalles.  This would be our last full day of rain ... I'd worried our entire Camino would be rained out.  I decided to push for a longer distance today since there was less elevation climbing on this section of the Camino and I wanted to see how the Wife and I would handle it.  The target for the day was the town of Zubiri which was 13.8 miles (22.2 km) from Roncesvalles. 

It was a lot tougher than the elevation profile said it would be.  You would think by now I would know not to trust elevation profiles.  We passed through a couple small towns on the way to Zubiri.  Where we stopped for an ATM and we bought some snacks.  Before entering Zubiri the Camino drops sharply similar to, but not as bad as, the drop into Roncesvalles.

The Zubiri bridge as seen from our albergue window.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
We crossed the bridge to enter Zubiri and stopped at the first private albergue just on the other side of the bridge.  We took two of the last four beds the albergue had available.  That is one of the big changes since my last Camino ten years ago.  Back then you didn't need to make reservations at albergues and in fact most municipal albergues didn't accept reservations at all.  That is not true anymore.  You can now make reservations in all the albergues and, since there are so many pilgrims now, it is safer to have a reservation.  I will talk about this in a later post.

The albergue was nice with private bathrooms (instead of shared bathrooms with multiple stalls/showers) and real towels.  We did our chores and went in search of some food.  We ran into a few of our Camino friends at or near a restaurant.  I went to find a pharmacy since I'd had a sore throat since I arrived in Paris and it wasn't going away.  The meds I was given did the job after a couple of days.


The rain stopped with a rainbow.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
We left Zubiri the next day without any rain in the forecast.  It was nice walking without our rain gear on but the weather was a lot colder than when I walked my first Camino.  I'd packed a fleece hoodie figuring I wouldn't be wearing it much but I ended up wearing it most of the time we were on the Camino.

Our goal for the day was Cizur Menor which was 15.5 miles (25 km).  I was worried it would be a bit too aggressive so I had a couple options for stops if we changed our minds.

We stopped in the next town looking for food but the bakery was closed so we walked on to the next town (we had snacks from the day before so we weren't starving).  On the way there part of the Camino was paved in stones and concrete.  With all the rain that had fallen the past few days the trail was wet and you had to watch your footing on the slick stone.  We passed a lady sitting at the side of the trail with a friend.  When we reached the next town, Zuriain, we found out that the lady sitting had slipped and broken her ankle.  Some friends had gone ahead to get help.

Pamplona and her cathedral.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
We had a good breakfast in Zuriain and chatted with some of our Camino friends.  I would say we were starting to form a Camino family but it was more like what I experienced my second Camino rather than the more cohesive family that formed on my first.  Like my second Camino we met people intermittently but rarely shared the same stages or destinations for the day.  They were more meetings in passing.

As we approached Pamplona I was feeling pooped.  The Wife was feeling the same.  We decided it was best to change our target to Pamplona.  We still walked 13.9 miles (22 km) this day.  I picked the same albergue I'd stopped at my first Camino which was a mistake.  It was a bit more rundown than I remembered with every toilet missing the toilet seat.

In the afternoon we explored the Cathedral and the city.  We ran into more Camino friends here as well.

Around this time (possibly earlier) I began suffering from painful back muscle spasms.  They would start after we stopped walking for the day and would last all afternoon.  I really don't know what I did but they made my in town down time uncomfortable.  I would later start taking megadoses of ibuprofen (800 - 1600 mg each day) which reduced the frequency and painfulness of the spasms.  The spasms would continue until a few days before we ended our Camino in Burgos.


My goal for the next day was Puente la Reina but, after our tough day getting to Pamplona, I decided to do a shorter day especially since there was a significant climb today.  Our goal instead would be Uterga, a town I was going to stop at on my first Camino but decided to go past.  It was a shorter and more manageable 11 miles (17.7 km).

We left Pamplona and walked through Cizur Menor.  At this point I'm glad we hadn't pushed hard to get here the day before since it was a bit farther than I expected.  We did rest here before continuing.

We stopped at the town of Zariquiegui for a bathroom break and some breakfast.  The porta-potty didn't have toilet paper so I ripped some of the introduction out of the Breirley Camino Guidebook.  Since We really never consulted the guidebook using the pages as toilet paper seemed like a good use for them.  I'll mention more about Brierly in a future post though I have mentioned him before.

The pilgrim monument on Alto de Perdon.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
We climbed higher up the mountain reaching the top at Alto de Perdon.  It was cold and very windy when we walked by the pilgrim's monument at the top.  The way down is rocky and steep which made for a slow descent.  You had to be careful when placing your foot to prevent slipping or turning an ankle.  A few days later we heard an elderly pilgrim had slipped and fallen on this section and had died when her head hit a rock.

We reached Uterga and we ended up getting a private room with a private bathroom as a treat to ourselves.  A couple of Camino friends (El and a Serbian woman Dr) were here as well and we shared a dinner table that evening.


Our next goal was the city of Cirauqui.  We even gave in and made a reservation since there was only one albergue in the small town.  We left Uterga and stopped in Puente la Reina for some breakfast and a rest.

The puente of Puente la Reina.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
After leaving Puente la Reina there is a long climb.  It was a lot longer than I remember and it paralleled a highway which I'm pretty sure wasn't there ten years ago.  This is another change I saw.  A lot of the roads we paralleled were either new or were much wider and carried more traffic than ten years ago ... progress I guess.

We reached Cirauqui and it was very early.  The albergue wouldn't open for three hours.  We found a social club where we could get lunch and use the facilities.  As we ate we decided we still had fuel in the tank so we decided to move on to the next town.  I texted the albergue in Cirauqui and cancelled our reservation and we moved on.

As you may have noticed I pretty much planned our stops on the fly.  I didn't know how capable I or the Wife were and our capabilities changed day to day.  Having to make reservations to guarantee a bed in an albergue made this spontaneous planning more difficult though.

View from our albergue in Lorca.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
We ended up stopping in the town of Lorca.  We didn't have a reservation here but had no problem getting beds.  I would say this town has fewer pilgrims stopping here.  Having said that they do have two albergues.  Ours was only half full at best.  The day's mileage was 13 miles (21 km).


Since we continued on to Lorca the day before, today's walk to Villamayor de Monjardín was a more comfortable distance that still felt hard for both of us.

The Irache wine fountain.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
Along this part of the Camino you walk through Estella with its steep medieval bridge.  Past Estella we passed a blacksmith shop that was selling cool metal Camino stuff.  We purchased a small cross and shepherd's crook with a hanging shell.  Further along we passed the famous wine fountain of Irache.

The last part going into Villamayor de Monjardín was an uphill slog and when we reached  the town we were pretty tired.  We walked a relatively short 11.23 miles (18 km) today but we felt every foot of the 1,550 ft (472 m) climb.  We arrived a couple hours before the albergue opened so we had some lunch at the local bar and relaxed until we could get in.

There is a castle on the top of the mountain the town is built on.  The Wife tried her best to find someone to drive her up to the castle but everyone refused saying you needed a four wheel drive vehicle that could handle the rough road.  Even an offer of money couldn't motivate anyone.

The poppies added a splash of color to our Camino.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
We were a bit tired of communal meals - especially since the last three meals had been chicken - so we planned to have dinner in the bar.  Turns out the bar in this town had unpredictable hours and it closed before we could get dinner so we joined the communal meal for more chicken.


We left the next day and headed towards Torres del Rio - one of my favorite little towns on the Camino.  The walk today was through wheat fields and along country roads.

The church in Los Arcos.
(Photo taken by the Wife)
We stopped in the town of Los Arcos for some breakfast/lunch outside of the church.  The Wife found this church to be one of the most beautiful and ornate churches she'd seen so far on the Camino.  We ran into Sa and her mother here and we chatted for a bit.

The last section between Los Arcos and Sansol is, for some reason or other, one of the hardest for me.  It is flat and usually hot and windy along this section and it seems to go on forever despite being short.  I was happy when we arrived in Sansol since this town is very close to Torres del Rio.

In Torres del Rio we stayed at the same albergue I stayed at during my first Camino.  Unlike a lot I saw on the Camino this albergue had improved with time.  There was a very well stocked store on the ground floor and the beds and bathrooms were nice.  We had another communal meal at a nearby hotel but fortunately it wasn't chicken this time.

Photos can be found in my 2023 Camino de Santiago (The Wife's Camino) Google Photos album.

No comments:

Post a Comment