Camino de Santiago, Days 2 & 3
Roncesvalles to Larrasoana 16 hard miles
This article is the second 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 read article one first, click here.
We were up before the sun again, trying to beat the heat.
Just outside our hotel was the famous sign we had seen all over the internet. Santiago de Compostela 790 km. We had to take our picture in front of the sign before we were on the path for the day.
A few kilometers later, we passed through the cutest little village of Auritz. In the Basque country the villages were beautiful. They had painted shutters, window boxes full of flowers and cobblestone sidewalks.
I wished we had walked further the day before so we could have stayed in this cute little town. I was soon to find out that I was going to have this dilemma all along the Camino, since so many of the towns were charming and unique.
For most of the day we walked downhill. It was extremely hot and many of the miles seemed to be through rocky dried up creek beds. We walked with Park, one of the South Korean men we had met. Scott was proud to say “An young ha say yo” (Hello) as we greeted him. We asked where his friend was and he said they had only just met when we did. The other young man was actually running the Camino, and we never saw him again. As for Park, he became a daily fixture in our lives. He was a faster walker, but had set his phone alarm to remind him every hour to take a ten minute rest. So, we passed each other back and forth throughout the day.
Sometimes Scott would walk along chatting with people and I would walk up ahead by myself. It was a nice time to think about life and to think about all the other pilgrims who had come before us since the middle ages.
We were so lucky there were blackberry bushes along the way. They were ripe and we ate our share of berries that day. I even showed some pilgrims who were unfamiliar with the berries that we could eat them.
As it was getting hotter and hotter, we entered a town and decided it was time for a lunch break. We stopped at a bar in Zubiri. Bars were the typical lunch and breakfast stop along the camino for pilgrims. I was so hot that I had a glass of white wine, an iced tea and a glass of water for my lunch. Nothing to eat!
During the hottest part of the afternoon we arrived at a town called Larrasoana. It was very small and Scott walked up the street to ask if there was a room in the Pension. I stood in the shade and contemplated where we were. The town appeared perfectly deserted. There was not a soul in sight. Of course, it was siesta time! Little did I know how much the Spaniard’s siesta would affect my life along the way.
We settled into our shared room, cleaned up and washed our laundry, and hung it in the sun to dry. The town restaurant wasn’t open until 7:00 p.m., so we had wine from the nearby grocer and cheese from the day before to tide us over until our meal.
We met our roommate Mark and sat on the pension porch in the shade, resting our tired feet. We enjoyed sipping on our wine and sharing life stories with him. He was from Tennessee, but has family living near our house in the neighborhood of Lake of the Pines, California. What a small world we live in!
Dinner that night was off the pilgrim’s menu. I had the best beef stew ever. We went to bed early since we were trying to adjust to walking so much every day.
Day 2: 16 miles, 7.5 hours
Larrasoana to Pamplona 10 miles
Scott and I began our walk alone in the dark the next morning. This time we were trying to beat the rain, which was suppose to arrive mid-day. We followed a nice path along a river. It was a peaceful way to begin our day.
At one point it started to sprinkle rain, so we stopped to put our pack covers on. As we did, who stopped to greet us? Our new friend, Park. A short time later Mark from our pension caught up to us as well. Eventually, because the trail was so narrow, we were caught behind two brothers and their cousin. They were all from the United States. They were on a smaller budget and were staying in the municipal alburgues dormitories every night. We listened to their stories of getting no sleep, although they still enjoyed the camaraderie of sleeping in the dorms. Their pilgrimage was a very religious one and they enjoyed going to mass most days.
After a short day of walking, we entered through the huge gate into the walled city of Pamplona. It was to be our stop for the night. The old city was amazing, with churches and cobblestone streets in every direction. I could imagine the running of the bulls each July, right before my very eyes.
The group all went their separate ways and Mark went with us to find a place to stay. We found another pension, with our own room. It had a balcony overlooking the narrow streets below.We couldn’t believe our luck! Scott and I cleaned up quickly and went out to explore the town.
Apparently, some big cities don’t follow the siesta tradition of closing up shop from 2:00-6:00. We were elated! This meant we could bar hop to the different tapas bars and sample wine from the Navarre region. Pamplona is well known for their small plates or tapas and we tried many.
Running of the Bulls
Scott and I walked the path the bulls take every July during the Festival de San Fermin. It traces back to the Middle Ages. The path lead us all the way to the entrance of the Pamplona Bull Ring. It was only 1/2 a mile and it’s said the running bulls only take three minutes to get there! We also learned the running of the bulls takes place every morning for one week, not just one day. What a cool experience to see the place I had only read about or seen in the movies.
We walked miles and miles around Pamplona, and discovered that walking on cobblestones was tough on our feet!
Later in the evening we went to find an Italian restaurant we had seen earlier that day. We assumed it opened at 7:00 p.m. for dinner, but no, it didn’t open until 8:00 p.m. Off we went to kill an hour and drink coffee and red wine before our dinner.
The restaurant ended up giving us one of the best meals on the camino. There were fresh pastas, sauces, sticks of bread and delicious Spanish wines. A nice surprise was running into Mark and having dinner together. We all had the same idea to fuel up well for our walk out of Pamplona the next morning.
Our stay in Pamplona was so much fun, and added to a great memory on the Camino de Santiago.
Day 3: 10 miles, 4.5 hours