Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 14: Eunate to Pamplona

Jean had told us last night that breakfast would be at 7.ooam. When we went down to the kitchen he had laid out such a spread. I could not do justice to the breakfast as I was still so full from the night before. The generosity of Jean was amazing as our accomodation and food was not a set price but by donation.
We started off walking between 7.30 and 8.ooam a lot cooler again. We had not gone very far when it started raining, at first spitting and then a bit harder so we stopped and put on our raincoats. We had a long climb up on river boulders, rocks and stones, we were walking against a very strong wind. We passed a lot of pilgrims who were walking the opposite way. Often stopped and chattered to them. When we reached the top Alto del Perdon the wind was howling and lots of mist. Their was a combi parked at the top selling drinks and snacks, so we had a coffee took some photos of the splendid views and the metal peregrinas and started our steep decent again on, boulders, rocks and stones. By 1/2 way down it had become quite hot so we stopped and took off our raincoats.
Coming down we had splendid views of Pamplona and took a few photos. In Pamplona we are staying in a super hotel we have a large room for the three of us and of course our own toilet and bathroom. It is amazing how excited we were to discover in our bathroom, large fluffy towls, shampoo, soap, we could have a shower or a bath even a bidet and ,can you believe it a hair dryer. After bathing and doing our washing which we hung all over the bathroom and the room we spent a couple of hours wandering around the city. Unfortunately we never found an internet cafe to post on the blog. One thing I could not get over is that every car in Pamplona has a dent or or two on their car. I think the roads are so narrow that they bump into each other all the time or take the corners too sharply. Val very kindly took us out for dinner for her last night in Spain.

Everyone in our room is up just after 6am. Breakfast is all ready for us when we get downstairs. Jams, marmelades, madelena cakes, toast, cheese, salami - coffee, various teas and hot chocolate for me.
Today the clouds are heavy and there is a thick mist. Jean points out our road to Muruzabal. We will be waking against the 'camino tide' all the way to Pamplona.
´The sun will burn it off´I say. ´That´s what Martin always says´comments Val, ánd it never does!´ She is right. By the time we are on the path to Muruzabal the wind has strengthened and it is starting to rain. We take out our ALTUS raincoats for the first time since France. Everyone we meet is walking from east to west and we are walking to eastwards to Pamplona. We pass through Uterga and many pilgrims stop to ask us why we are going in the opposite direction. Most have pale complexions, showing that they have just started walking (we look like walnuts). By the time we reach the rocky path up to the Alto del Perdon the wind is howling and we are being buffeted so strongly that even our sticks are swaying in the wind.
"So, you have had a nice easy camino, along sundrenched paths, no rain for two weeks and very little wind? ´Hmmmm??´ponder the Gods of the Winds. Let´s end this camino with a flourish." And so they do. The wind nearly blows us off the mountain. The rain is lashing down. It is a gruelling climb up the slipery river boulder strewn path to the top of the Alto. There is a van parked there with a fellow offering coffee and food. We buy a cup of coffee but delcine the food. We take photos of the metal sculptures and then start our descent. It is muddy and narrow and we jostle on the path with pilgrims coming up.
´Where are you coming from?´asks a couple. ´We started in Lourdes we say, and have walked the Aragones. We are now going to Pamnplona.´ They look impressed. ´
We have just started´they say, ánd already we are exhausted. Will they make it to Santiago? I hope so. The sun comes out and we walk uphill to Cizur Menor. Val thinks that we are in Pamplona. She takes off her boots and puts on her Crocs. She has already given her sticks away. ¨We are at 45th Cutting¨I say ¨we still have about 5kms to go to the centre of Pamplona.
I feel bad for her. We could have a got a bus to Pamplona but I wanted her to walk to the final city so that she would feel the same sense of achievement as when we walked into Rome. This walk is turning into a long, hard slog for her instead. sWe stop at a cafe-bar where three women are eating huge plates of eggs, sausage and chips. We are told that the kitchen is now closed so we just have something to drink. We continue onto Pamplona which we can see ahead of us all the way.
We follow a rather boring, route through the outskirts along the camino signs in the cyclist´s lane all the way to the Plaza del Castillo. We find our hotel and check in.
This is the end of the Aragones for us three and the end of the camino for Val. After a lovely looooong... hot soak in the bath, Marion and I walk to the Plaza del Castillo to find the internet cafe up the side street but it is closed. We go back to the hotel and the three of us wander around the old city looking at the exhibits in the square. We take Val to Cortes Ingles and I buy a Spanish Sim Card for my cell phone. I buy our train tickets at the Renfe office across the road.
We ask for a referral for the best restaurant to have tapas. "Iruna" we are told is the most popular. We have a drink next door at the Hemingway bar and Val stands us to our last supper at the Iruna.
Back at the hotel we sort through all our stuff and I give Val a few items to take back to South Africa - tights, fleece, chill-cheater pants which I doubt I will need again on this trip. She lays out her medical supplies and Marion and I decide what we need to replenish our stocks. My pack seems much lighter and I am even able to fit my boots into it. Tomorrow I will wear the Crocs on the train.

Sil - 20th June: Morning in Pamplona
We decide to have a last breakfast together and I take Val and M to the little cafe-bar off the Plaza del Castillo where they serve delicious churros con chocolate. We then meander down the 'calle antica' to the St Jacques Puerta, meeting a few pilgrims coming up the hill into the old city.
Val wants to do shopping so we say goodbye and Marion and I collect our things from the hotel and walk down to the bus stop where we get a bus to the train station.

Val - Minister of Nutrition
Well we bid our farewells to Jean and other Pilgrims and start to walk, Jean calls out "wrong way" but Syl points out that we are indeed going the right way, to Pamplona where they will catch transport to commence their next walk. and I will fly home.
As such we are walking "against" the pilgrims, the most I have seen on this trip. We walk up as they walk down! When we get to the top it is like being on the English Moors, it is thick mist but beautiful. A man has a campervan where he is offering hot coffee and chocolate, and yes Spanish Tortilla (By the way, I am writing this after my return - I have had to start from scratch because Tombi, my puppy Great Dane ate all the notes that I sat and wrote in the airport waiting room) of my purchases was a Tortilla pan and I made Martin a rather good Tortilla that Sebastien would have been impressed with.... anyway...we stop and have a coffee and take pictures of "The Pilgrims Monument on El Perdon mountain pass"...they are life size statues which represents a group of pilgrims guided by the Milky Way and in just a few years has, become one of the most famous landmarks on the Jacobean Route.... I am absolutely captivated by it. We would have like to have had a photo with us inbetween the individuals, but the wind was blowing so hard, I fear we would have disappeared over the edge!
I start off ok as far as the feet go but very soon with the uneven terrain of stones, stones and more stones they give up. I can feel that they are very swollen now inside by boots. As we come down and out of the hills we begin to walk on tar roads and I completely misunderstand Syl because I think she says we are on the outskirts of Pamplona. I give my sticks away at the earliest opportunity... many pilgrims are setting out without sticks and have no idea what is awaiting them, climbing up in that wind.
Then off come the boots and on go the crocs and although my feet are feeling dreadful, I know I am almost there.... we come to a bar and this time I say, girls I'm having a glass of tinto... I never drink wine during the walking day but hey...I 'm almost there!
Then I find out that we have to go through this small town and then walk on to Pamplona!! Hell, I am in agony now...I have no idea what is wrong with my feet although Syl has been saying that it is my Achilles and the pain is searing up through the back of the ankles.
Well we make it to Pamplona and I love its atmosphere immediately, it is buzzing and alive and very attractive. Our hotel is wonderful... Syl you are amazing! We have a "suite" with our room and a corridor and a bath with real soap, towels, hot water and a BATH! I cannot describe the feeling of lying in a bath with my throbbing feet being allowed to float.
I clear out my back pack - what a feeling...I set up a "shop" on the end of my bed for Syl and Marion to pick from...pegs, bandages, sheeps wool, etc. After they have had their pickings I dump the rest in the bin.
In the evening, we find a shop and I buy a small suitcase as I plan on shopping and will take a few small things home for the girls save them carrying them now. I empty my back pack into the suitcase...I need that for duty free.
I am taking the girls for supper to thank them for all they have done to make my trip so easy...Marion has made us rain suits, chill cheaters, bags and all sorts of things. Syl has made us wonderful spats..even with a SA flag(!) and has planned and booked the entire trip...also been shopping with us both....hilarious a shop Marion and I will pick up something and then behind us will come Syl "too heavy, don't need it, put it back!!"
We have asked advice as to which restaurant we should visit. Before supper we go into Ernest Hemingway's bar - it is beautiful...a life sized bronze statue of him leaning against the bar and pictures and architecture. The barman has been here for something like 20 years. I have my first glass of Cava (excellent quality sparkling wine closest to Champagne) and it goes straight to my head! Then we move onto the restaurant (I think it was called Iruna - avoid it at all costs). Inside is stunning, it looks like an old railway station tea room, it has beautiful tiled floors, huge mirrors and lighting, gleaming bar. We looked at the menu at lunchtime and know exactly what we want. We have another drink there and then move to our table. As is usual, we are brought wine and bread which we tuck is around 930pm and we as usual are starving. Then finally we are given the menu...but it is different to the one we looked at lunchtime and missing much of the dishes we had chosen. However, we have drunk half the wine and all of the bread so we decide to stay.
Once again, there is not much for Syl to choose from..s o she has a salad to start (once again having to say no Tuna). Marion and I have seafood in a scallop shell which we thought was most appropriate...I refuse to call it by its correct name as it would be an insult to the real dish. It is a grey thick congealed sauce, which when prodded with a fork, comes away from the dish in one whole piece. It is disgusting.
Next course, none of us can have our desired dish so Syl has what is described as a potato bake but it comes with two fried eggs on top...poor Syl she never complains. Marion and I have 'confit of duck' and pork. Both dishes look exactly the same...some meat and chips with a brown gravy over... this again has been plated some hours ago and shoved in a microwave and has congealed around the edges.
Pudding was the best... a commercial icecream in a pastic tub which thankfully the "Chef" has not been able to get his hands on. It is one of the worst meals I have ever had and my last chance of eating something wonderful in Spain.
We are exhausted and go back to the hotel. I curl up in my bed and my feet are pulsing and shooting with pain but I know I will not have to walk tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Sylvia and MArion
Will keep tabs on your progress after you send Val home! Happying walking the last bit to Santiago.