Camino de Santiago, Day 4
Pamplona to Puente La Reina 16 Miles
This article is the third in my series of walking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago with my husband Scott. Some articles will be only about one day of walking, and some may include a few days of walking, for the lengths will vary. To begin with the first article click here.
Leaving Pamplona in the dark, it was so quiet and eerie. It was our goal to beat the heat and beat the afternoon showers, which were predicted for the day.
After walking out of the city and through the suburbs, we came to wide open fields of fresh cut wheat. Gradually we began going up hill, and eventually came to a village with a bar. We sat outside with the brothers from Minnesota and enjoyed our cafe con leches. The specialty of Spain is half espresso and half scalded milk. I had finally found the nerve to drink one during our walking day. Luckily, the caffeine didn’t bother me, and I was able to enjoy many of those coffees for the rest of the trip.
Alto del Perdon
The trail was very busy on the section after our coffee break. It became a single dirt track going uphill. Many people were taking it slowly. As we reached the top of the climb, we arrived at the monument of Alto del Perdon. It was built in 1996 and dedicated to all pilgrims on St. James Way. Viewing the monument was extra special for us because we had seen it in the movie “The Way.”
The views from the Alto del Perdon were amazing. We could see miles back to where we began our morning in Pamplona. There was a food van selling snack items at the top of the mountain. We met up with our Korean friend, Park, and had a snack of hard boiled eggs, iced tea and bananas.
The Trail Down
There was also a van nearby from an alburge (similar to a hostel, but with many bunk beds) and they were offering to take pilgrims’ backpacks to their albergue for 5 Euros. This would make the long descent off the mountain to the town of Puente La Reina much easier. We didn’t take them up on their offer, as that would also mean committing to staying at their albergue. Our friends from Minnesota did, and had a much easier time walking down hill in the dried up creek beds.
Puente La Reina
After 16 miles and 6.5 hours we arrived at the charming town of Puente La Reina. Scott and I wandered the streets looking for a place to stay. Three times we tried different accommodations, but they were all full. Eventually, we were directed to the Bar Restaurante La Plaza, and the owner showed us a room in his hostel around the corner. We were relieved to have a nice clean room to settle into. Scott and I each had a couple of days worth of dirty clothes to wash and we felt so lucky to have a balcony to hang them from for the afternoon.
Church of Santiago
Making our way back to the restaurant after our chores were finished was our goal. We sat in the plaza and enjoyed a snack of tapas. It was a delicious treat of bread layered with ham and peppers. Next, we went for a walk and found the Church of Santiago. There was no admission fee to enter, so we went into the church and sat quietly. The church was built in the 12th century and included a famous statue of the apostle St. James. It was hard to wrap my mind around how many pilgrims over the years had visited the church to see this statue.
Suddenly we heard pouring rain! It was coming down in buckets. We ran up the cobblestone road, dodging the fast forming puddles along the way. Nothing was open due to siesta, so we were lucky to find a quiet restaurant which would serve us coffee and red wine. Yes, we had a cup of each. We sat out of the rain for a while and then finished exploring the town.
Exploring Puente La Reina
Puente La Reina means “bridge of the Queen” and we saw the amazing bridge at the edge of town. Standing on the bridge took us back in time, to the days when the Knights Templar occupied the town.
On our way back to our hostel, we stopped at a small store to buy fruit for our walk the next day. I was picking up some apples, when a man came from the back room and started yelling at me in Spanish and waving his arms. I got his message very quickly, no touching the produce! He then proceeded to pick out fruit for me and sent us on our way. After the experience in the store, I always paid attention to the rules of produce in Spain!
Later, as we got ready for dinner in our room, we remembered our laundry which was supposed to be drying on the balcony! It was dripping wet from the rain. We used a towel to dry the clothes the best we could, but it didn’t help much and we knew we would be walking with wet clothes hanging from our backpacks the next day.
Day 4: 16 miles and 6.5 hours of walking