Camino de Santiago, Day 5
Puente La Reina to Villamayor de Monjardin 19 Miles
This article is the fourth 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.
As we looked at our map before we set out to walk for the day, we decided our goal would be the town of Estella, about 13 miles away.
The walking was not strenuous. The trails were wide with rolling hills through vineyards, dripping with dark, purple grapes. We met up with the three brothers from Minnesota and walked together for a long time. There were plenty of blackberries to snack on along the way.
At one point, we came to a viewpoint overlooking a world map. It was set into the side of a hill and made entirely of shrubs. It was quite a sight!
Walking the camino would take us through many regions of Spain. We were in the Navarre region, which was still in Basque country. Some of the townspeople spoke Spanish, while in other towns they spoke Basque. The region was known for farming, growing wheat crops, vineyards and olives. We were able to see them all.
Scott and I eventually broke off from our group and walked alone. By that point people would slow down or speed up according to their goals for the day, or maybe stop for a long lunch.
By 1:00 p.m. we arrived at the town of Estella. We were tired and ready to be finished for the day. Walking five days straight was beginning to wear on our bodies and especially my feet. As we looked around for accommodations in Estella, we didn’t see many options. A couple from Australia joined us as we set out to find a room. She told me she had a blister on every single toe! I felt so sorry for her. Scott and I were lucky enough not to have a single blister yet.
A sign ahead advertised an albergue up the hill. We walked on, feeling optimistic this would be the place for us. Once we arrived and took a tour of the building, our thoughts changed. It was a dorm style albergue with 40 beds to each room. It felt like a gymnasium and was very sterile. Scott and I decided we weren’t as tired after all and would keep on walking. The Australian couple wished us well and went to put their feet up and rest. On a side note: We found out days later, the town of Estella had an entire section we missed. In the heart of Estella, there were accommodations and a charming town square. We should have explored the town more thoroughly.
The Wine Fountain
Taking out our map at the edge of town, we decided to press on to the next town, only 3k away. Up the hill we went, and with only one fruit bar left to snack on. Just ahead we would be passing the wine fountain of Bodegas Irache. It was a famous place for pilgrims to stop for a free glass of wine. The area, well known for its wine, went all the way back to the 12th century!
As we walked up the road we saw a tour bus loading up, full of people. We saw the wine fountain, coming right out of the wall. It was like a dream, free wine coming out of a fountain! As wine connoisseurs, we love tasting all kinds of wines. We hurried over and tried to put some wine in our water bottles. Unfortunately, the wine was all gone for the day. We were each able to get enough for a sip. The amount dispensed each day was 100 litres, and we were too late. What a sad moment it was for us, and a bit anticlimactic.
Just Keep Walking
We decided to keep walking, as we could see no lodgings in the area. It seemed we were all alone, and tired and didn’t have much to talk about. At one point we saw a campground with some cabins. It looked deserted. We discussed walking down the hill to see if any were available for the night, but decided against it. Neither of us wanted to walk back up the hill if it was for nothing.
Later, we saw a huge sign advertising a grand hotel ahead. We were so relieved, we were exhausted!
As we approached the hotel, there was not a soul to be seen. The building was dilapidated and shut down. It appeared the entire area had been a resort town which was no longer successful.
We kept walking. We saw no one.
A New Friend
We followed the camino arrows and were walking on a really nice trail through the woods when we came upon a group of five women pilgrims. They were resting, and the only one speaking English was a woman from Toronto. Smiling, we said “Buen Camino” and were on our way again. The woman from Toronto, Louise, decided to join us. She was very lively and told us many stories. She was walking the camino alone for the second time!
After an hour or so we came to a small town. We found a hostel which was full. The owner said we could sleep on a matt on her concrete floor for 10 Euros each. We all decided to keep walking, we weren’t that desperate. Trying two more towns up the road gave us no luck. Everything was full and it was beginning to get late in the day.
Villamayor de Monjardin
We could see the ruins of the San Esteban de Deyo Castle just overlooking the town. Once again we had no luck. The alburges were full in Villamayor and they were allowing pilgrims to sleep outside on the concrete sports court.
We were completely exhausted and it was getting cold. The three of us decided to call a taxi to take us ahead to find a room and we would return to Villamayor in the morning to continue our walk. Scott was at the end of his rope for patience. He felt the stress of not having a place to stay, as well as feeling a little bit responsible for our new friend.
An hour later, a taxi arrived. Our driver was so sweet. She called different places looking for a room for us. Finally she found a hostal rural called San Andres in Torres del Rio! As she dropped us off, we arranged to have her pick us up in the morning and return us to Villamayor.
Torres del Rio
The town of Torres del Rio was so charming and small. Only 153 people lived there. It was set just above the Linare River.
Our hotel was very modern on the inside and had a bar and dining room. We signed up for the pilgrim’s dinner, retired to our room to clean up and rest. I was beyond excited to see our room had a hair dryer and shuttered windows overlooking the street. Perfect for hanging our laundry to dry. The hair dryer would come in handy if our clothes weren’t completely dry after hanging.
I was upset to find I had several blisters on my feet after our 19 mile walk that day. I never even felt hot spots first!
Later in the evening, we went to dinner and sat with the other pilgrims. We had soups and pasta, which were delicious, and plenty of red wine all around.
The man sitting across from us was very entertaining and told us stories from his home in South Africa. He counted Nelson Mandela’s grandson as a friend! A public speaker, he told a story of being in the United States once while speaking at universities about entrepreneurship. Especially surprising, he loves the town of Chico, California (which is only an hour drive from our home) and particularly the beer made there, called Sierra Nevada. Scott thought it was funny and told him we have some in our refrigerator at home.
Our fifth day on the camino was certainly the toughest mentally. We learned a huge lesson about always carrying plenty of fruit and snacks with us. We never knew just where there would be food or a room available on the path ahead.
Day 5: 19 miles, walking all day.