Spain – Camino de Santiago

Part 2: Pamplona – Navarrete

An early start to the day as a scorcher in the mid 30s was on the cards heading towards Puente la Reina being 20kms. Passing through towns made it easy to maintain hydration with readily available bottled water and freshly squeezed orange juice to purchase.

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Following  gentle undulating  gravel roads we made our way up to the Pilgrims Monument. It was a Sunday and to our surprise an open air mass was being conducted and at the conclusion of mass a prayer for pilgrims was prayed to continue on a safe journey.

comfort all the way for us………

Back on the journey we navigated our way down a steep decent of large loose rocks laughing that perhaps that’s why a safe journey was prayed. Anyway safely down and onto flatter terrain we strolled into a small town and like everyone else headed to the cafe open and ready to serve hot and hungry walkers.

Heading out of town a girl was walking barefoot, she was shoeless because walking the Camino barefoot was her sacrifice. Apparently many pilgrims embarking on the Camino undertake some form of hardship or sacrifice. Another couple we had chatted too earlier in the walk stated they would be looking for accommodation that only offered a wooden floor to sleep on which was their intended hardship. Certainly had me thinking about our private accommodation but I consoled myself everyone has different reasons for walking the Camino!!!!

Arriving in Puente la Reina we where hot and bothered and to the amazement of the Casa manager we eagerly sculled down an icy cold home-made lemonade, needless to say a second lemonade was poured which was sculled in the same manner, straight down the hatch. A meander around the old small town was enjoyed followed by a meal along with many others.

The narrow cobblestone streets that Camino walkers aimlessly meandered along actually were roads but didn’t appear wide enough for cars to travel on. Annoyed car drivers soon got the message across with car horns being tooted alerting walkers to move over.   The next morning breakfast was with Heather and Mick. Their walk had been organised by a travel agent and with Mick who had undergone a knee replacement 6 months ago they were walking some sections and hopping buses through other sections. There are many ways to undertake the Camino and everyone does it their own way best suiting their circumstances.

we got drenched………..

A 20km walk into Estella was the days plan. Apart from the nasty incline out of Puente la Reina which had walkers huffing and puffing and enthusiastic cyclists being forced to dismount and push their bikes up the rest of the day was over relatively gentle terrain passing through vineyards and olive groves with some fig trees bearing ripe plump figs on the roadside.

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Surging forward with stops in villages and towns along the way to enjoy the cafes and visit the churches a drop in temperature was obvious with the clear blue skies turning to a shade of grey. Ian suggested a faster walking pace would be wise if we didn’t wish to get caught in the pending storm. Just as we made town the heavens opened up and we ended up drenched!!!

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fitting in with the locals………….

Estelle with a population of 14,000 was quiet with shops and cafes closed and no one wondering the streets. Ah yes siesta which was our excuse to get in on the act of siesta time. The rain was short lived leaving the muggy atmosphere to contend with. From the accommodation around 5pm noise started to erupt and on looking out of our window many people were moving about with the sounds of children playing in the plaza mayor. Banks, shops and cafes where open and business was buzzing with  loud music filling the air. Estelle had come alive leaving us no option but to put on our glad rags and join in. After spending some time with Jill and Andrew  we had meet a few days earlier, it  was time to depart the party scene as weary walkers needed some sleep but the locals continued on late into the evening. Estelle was a modern town as in cafes and retail outlets but had maintained the old city stone facades with very modern shop fit outs and merchandise. A stroll around town and a visit to the cathedral made for a very enjoyable rest day before getting ourselves sorted and organised for more walking over the next few days.

European autumn days……….

Being September  the temperatures were falling to around the mid to high 20s which allowed us to start the days walk a bit later. Most people hit the road before light using  head torches to light the way as they made their way out of town. Leaving about an hour later meant we weren’t walking with the crowds allowing us to walk in a more  relaxed atmosphere. As the days rolled on we had become very relaxed and were in no hurry as we ambled along. We chatted, we laughed, we cried (well maybe not Ian) as we simply had hit the pause button on our busy life.

Moving on towards Los Arcos the day was fairly uneventful walking through the countryside of market gardens, vineyards and farmlands with a plantation of almonds and walnuts. Another day of 20kms with only a couple of small towns to pass through with mobile cafes along the way, we enjoyed stumbling across the mobile cafes.

On the edge of town was the official town greeter, a donkey!!!! The donkey was not fazed by the many people entering the town of 1,200 which was older in style but very modern tasty European food was being served at the cafes.  After dining out and spending some time with Ken and Dorothy we popped into the cathedral which for the population was quite sizable.  Whether one agrees or disagrees with the elaborate decorative churches one cannot take away from the craftsmanship of the artisans who created these structures with basic tools and skills handed down from generation to generation.

nature at its best……..

A weather change of persistent light rain had us searching for rain jackets. The rain persisted off and on being more of a nuisance than anything as it meant jackets on jackets off!!!! Our walking was brought to a sudden holt as we witnessed a spectacular display of raw nature at one of its finest moments. As we stood and gazed  we became  memorised by a thick heavy cloud dancing over a mountain in the distance with the morning sun filtering through the cloud. Others stopped and enquired what had captivated our attention and joined in the viewing of a showcase of nature.. Words failed to express the majesty of this experience.


frustration and exasperation………..

As what had become normal routine of finding a cafe mid morning to enjoy fresh orange juice and an omelette of some description this particular morning was no different. As Ian entered the cafe in this very small village with a population of 10 people another walker was on his way out with what looked liked a pretty good traditional omelette. Needless to say Ian ordered two omelettes to which the waitress rolled her eyes in annoyance replying “you will just have to wait” in her broken English. On looking around others  were enjoying an omelette. As it turned out this one waitress was the only one on duty so she was doing it all, taking orders, cooking, cleaning tables and washing dishes. As omelette orders kept rolling in and dishes kept on mounting up the eye rolling of the waitress become more dramatic. A few of us waiting to either be served or receive our order jumped in like real troopers and started clearing tables and doing dishes, possibly only on the Camino you would experience this. As for the omelette it was simply delicious.

not an extra 10kms!!!!………

Needing  push on to Vianna which was the days destination it was obvious there was more rain about. Continuing through vineyards and sunflower crops  eventually the town of  Vianna appeared.

The street barricades were still in place suggesting the running of the bulls festival was about to take place or had not long finished but lucky for us there were no bulls running through the streets.

Once again Ken and Dorothy were in town. Without planning every few days we would bump into each other, Ken and Dorothy  were very easy and pleasant people to spend time with. We set off to locate our hotel, SURPRISE, the hotel despite having the address of Vianna was another 10kms further down the track, just what was  needed!!! With dogged determination  we continued on and found our bed for the night which ended up being on the outskirts of Logrono. Ian was able to use his expert navigational skills which took us via a birdlife observatory which was worth viewing and a distraction  from the painful additional kms .

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back on the Camino path…….

Backtracking  to the path leading to Logrono grey looming clouds filled the sky as we made our way to the 180,000 populated city of Logrono which was a very busy city.

After making it across the other side of the city  a cafe with doors open, music flowing from within and the aroma of coffee wafting in the air caused us to down packs and pull up a chair in the outdoor area. We were interrupted by  some very enthusiastic voices “we’ve found you, we’ve found you atlast.” Clearly someone had been found but we didn’t realise it was us who had been found. To our amusement the conversation from a small group of Americans continued on. “You must be the Australian wearing the aussie hat we have heard about, and have been looking for you everyday.” After some chatter, and photos followed by the Americans all trying on Ians hat we parted ways and moved on through the city until the path lead us into a parkland.

The park was full of people walking, running, cycling with playgrounds full of children’s laughter and tears. The swans in Spain are white rather than the black swan in Australia. In full bloom was the rose of St James creating a beautiful colourful display. As we made our way to the edge of the parkland a man with long grey hair who was sitting in a shelter caught my eye, I called to Ian “He is here, I know its a spiritual walk but I didn’t expect to come across Moses stamping and signing Camino passports”, well I thought I was funny.

After much chuckling we continued on through vineyards finally arriving at Navarrete as did Ken and Dorothy along with Jill and Andrew. After enjoying a late lunch we headed off in search of our hotel for a well earned sleep.

the yellow arrow to continue……..IMG_1485



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