Where We Be
|The Basque country with its rolling green hills
and picturesque towns makes for good hiking
|We hiked 10 easy miles from Larrasoana to
Pamplona on an overcast and lightly rainy day
|We enjoyed seeing this sturdy little colt in a pasture
|After a stretch of highway walking we reached Irotz (Iroz)
with its pretty Romanesque bridge (Puente de Itergaiz)
|As the Pyrenees petered out, the ups and downs got easier. We walked through farmland
and beech forest to the small town of Burguete, one of our favorites in the Basque country.
|The neat little town of Burguete once played host to Ernest Hemingway, who came here after the
Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona to rest, enjoy the landscape, and fish for trout in the River Irati
|Robin shows off her new scallop shell pendant
|We enjoyed a relaxed pace and took time to chat with fellow
Camino-ers from Paraguay, Bolivia, and South Korea along the way
|We found lIttle touches of history everywhere -- like this
flower planter decorated with knights and castles
|We paused in tranquil Guerendiain for lunch -- then decided to stay after standing up and discovering we could barely limp
forward because our muscles had tightened up so much! We found lodging at Corazon Puro Pension (€40 including dinner).
|Hiking Day 3: Roncesvalles to Guerendiain
|Stone farmhouses with tiled roofs were a common sight as we walked along
|In the village of Trinidad de Arre (just before Pamplona)
we came to this lovely arched bridge and cascades
|After that it was a relatively short walk to the outskirts of Pamplona.
We especially enjoyed seeing Pamplona's imposing outer walls.
|We entered through the same medieval gate
pilgrims have been using for centuries
|Lucky for us it was a festival Saturday in Pamplona so we got to see
these huge papier mache figures being paraded around the square
|After enjoying the "Gigantes y Cabezudos" (Giants and Big-Heads),
we continued to our central lodging at Pension Escaray Lozano (€40)
|Legs refreshed, we began hiking towards our next
goal -- Larrasoana, about 10 miles up the road
|We passed through quietly beautiful rural
countryside filled with birdsong and a sense of peace
|There were a few uphill stretches but it was
mostly downhill and nothing too strenuous
|"Leave no sign untouched" seems to be a Camino mantra
|Many Camino-ers use Zubiri as a convenient
halfway point between Roncesvalles and Pamplona
|But we chose a deliberately slower pace, preferring
to stay in some of the less frequented villages
|We set no speed records but felt content to be taking the Camino at our own pace
|In Ilarratz we had a picnic lunch, where we found a covered seating area
with a water fountain nearby -- and two cats who watched our every bite
|As we hiked we made some new friends, chatted up a storm about shared adventures in Morocco, then never
saw them again -- the one downside of not keeping to the same pace and stopping points as other Camino-ers
|We arrived in Larrasoana tired but happy. At a small grocery store the ultra friendly owner poured plastic cups of wine
for us while we shopped! We left with a bottle of Rioja 2010 wine for just €4, along with Manchego cheese and chorizo.
|Hiking Day 4: Guerendiain to Larrasoana
|Hiking Day 5: Larrasoana to Pamplona
|During this stretch we hiked three days from Roncesvalles to Pamplona, with distances
as follows: 7 miles to Guerendiain, 10 miles to Larrasoana, and 10 miles to Pamplona.
Thus far we've covered one hiking day per page;
if we keep to this pace we'll have nearly fifty
pages worth of Camino! So instead we'll start
combining three or four days' worth of hiking at
a time, starting with the Basque country.
The hiking here is relatively easy as you travel
from one quaint town to the next. Nevertheless
we took it extra slow on the first day as a
concession to sore feet and legs, only hiking 7
miles to Guerendiain instead of 14 to Zubiri, the
more traditional stopping point. (Don't worry,
we'll make up for it later in the Camino!) The next
two days were about 10 miles each, first to
Larrasoana then Pamplona -- the first big city you
come to on the Camino. Having visited Pamplona
before, we'd already seen the key sights so were
able to just soak up the atmosphere this time
around. We really enjoyed the relaxed pace we
brought to these days, making them fun instead
of exhausting. We recommend building extra
days into your Camino for just such a purpose.
|This time we walked through Pamplona as true pilgrims, following yellow
arrows and Camino waymarks embedded in the pavement at regular intervals
|The pastoral countryside here is easy on the eyes
|This "salve regina" is where Charlemagne is said
to have first stopped to pray on Spanish soil
|We found lodging at Pension Peregrino where we paid €55 for a twin room with private bath and balcony.
Rooms like this would become the norm for us on the Camino -- neither of us being big fans of dorm living.
|Early on we passed the Hotel Akerrata, used in the movie
"The Way" -- the movie that first inspired us to hike the Camino