Where We Be
Navarre Region, Spain
Some of our favorite days of the whole Camino
were in the Navarre Region. May 15th, for
example, was a really fun day of hiking -- not to
mention my 53rd birthday! Leaving Pamplona
behind, we passed fields of waving grass,
meadows of wildflowers, and churches and
villages perched atop hills -- quintessential
Camino scenery. We relished fine views from
Alto de Perdon (shown left), the high point of
the day's hike. And we walked our furthest
distance yet, nearly 14 miles, from Pamplona to
Obanos, a medieval village on a hillside. Along
the way we chatted with fascinating people --
like the artist couple from L.A. who nonchalantly
told us they had to emergency camp at the top
of the Pyrenees in a rock shelter when it fell
dark, with no food or water except two oranges
to suck on! You can't make this stuff up!

On a different day we visited Irache, site of the
famed Irache wine fountain, a definite highlight
of the Camino. There’s a spigot for wine and a
spigot for water: guess which one we chose?
We made ourselves a little picnic of cheese,
chorizo, crusty bread, and water-bottle wine.
It gets a little windy at the top of Alto de Perdon
in the Navarre region, but the views are to die for
We took a good long time wandering through
Puente la Reina, appreciating its historic sights
Heading out of town we crossed Puente la Reina's famous six-arched Romanesque bridge -- our favorite of the Camino.
Built over the Rio Argo in the 11th century purposely for pilgrims, it’s amazing to think how many sore feet have crossed it.
And wildflowers added a pop of color to my birthday
Green fields brightened up a dreary morning
All through the Navarre we spied medieval hilltop
villages that looked like something out of a dream
Gravel roads wound their way through the Navarre countryside
And morning mists made distant hillside villages look like Impressionist paintings
After stopping for tasty egg, ham, and cheese subs in Zariquiegui, we began the steep
climb to Alto de Perdon, heading towards some forty windmills turning briskly in the wind
At the top we paused to appreciate these pilgrim
silhouettes that seem to be fighting against the wind
Alto de Perdon is a popular place for modern-day
pilgrims to rest and chat while taking in the views
Spring wildflowers seemed to be popping up everywhere in abundance
And I do mean abundance!
These flowers were nearly as tall as I am!
The hiking at this point was gently downhill, and we kept going all the way
to the hilltop town of Obanos and our lodging at Hostal Mamerto (€45)
For dinner we had pizza and a bottle of local red wine along with cheesecake and shots
of some yellow spirit we saw locals drinking. As birthdays go, this was a memorable one.
During this stretch we hiked four days from Pamplona to Sansol, with distances as follows: 14 miles to Obanos, 10 miles to Lorca, 11 miles
to Villamayor de Monjardin, and 12 miles to Sansol. We took our first Camino rest day in the tiny medieval village of Sansol near Logroño.
Hiking Day 6: Pamplona to Obanos
Cirauqui's name means "nest of vipers" in Basque! Apparently in medieval times the local
baddies used to let pilgrims’ horses drink salt water then killed the horses for their hides.
Despite grim doings in its past, the town seems pleasant enough now.
This is the dramatic entryway to the Church of San Roman in Cirauqui.
On the outskirts of Cirauqui is this really cool world map made with local vegetation
We pressed on to the next town, Lorca, where I got to enjoy two of my favorite Spanish dishes: gazpacho
soup and black rice paella with seafood. Both dinner and lodging were at Albergue del Camino (€45).
Hiking Day 7: Obanos to Lorca
For a change we were in a traffic jam of camino-ers!
Apparently these were early risers coming on fast from Estella.
We joined them, hiking fast over easy terrain and
reaching the popular Camino town of Los Arcos by noon
In Los Arcos we found plenty of places for lunch near the cathedral. The gold
retablo in the Church of Santa Maria is one of the most ornate of the entire Camino.
This is the tremendous view from Room #1 at El Olivo.
We're looking down on Sansol's sister town, Torres del Rio.
The view gets even better at sunset. We liked our little room at El Olivo so much
we decided to take our first rest day of the Camino here. Can you blame us?
The view of Torres del Rio at night
Next morning it felt like we were in a "Camino bubble" -- we saw almost no other hikers. Most ended
their stage in Estella, a few miles beyond Lorca, and they were long gone by the time we got there.
Still, we've enjoyed our overall strategy of staying in the less touristed towns in the middle of stages instead of the traditional
end points. Most everyone agrees it's best to "walk your own Camino" and not worry too much about what others are doing.
We passed several fortified churches in the medieval old town
of "Estella the Elegant" as it was known in the 15th century
We hiked mostly dowhill through lovely agricultural countryside,
with the occasional monastery or castle adding interest to the view
Around lunchtime we arrived in Irache with its castle-like bodega (winery)
Here is where the famed Irache wine fountain is – a definite highlight of any Camino
We enjoyed wine with our lunch on a nearby picnic bench
but didn't get too tipsy -- we still had a long ways to go!
The hiking turned definitively uphill even before the wine
fountain and continued the rest of the way to our destination
We kept taking pictures of a pointy mountain with a castle on top, and
lo and behold that turned out to be our destination -- Villamayor de Monjardin
We mistakenly thought we were at Villamayor around the 10-mile
mark, but it turned out to be the town prior, called Azqueta
It took another steep mile to reach Villamayor de Monjardin,
with the ruins of Castle San Esteban looming over the town
We checked into Casa Rural Montedeio
with its wood beamed ceiling (€45)
Around this time we began our Camino tradition of hiking to breakfast
each morning -- earning our coffee and croissants as it were
Heading into Puente La Reina we came across this monument marking the junction of two pilgrimage
routes from Europe. The sign at the base reads: "And from here all roads to Santiago become one."
Hiking Day 8: Lorca to Villamayor de Monjardin
The picturesque town of Cirauqui rises up ahead,
surrounded by vineyards and olive orchards
Big bouquets of wildflowers trailside are a definite benefit of a spring Camino
Hiking Day 9: Villamayor to Sansol
Our last day of hiking in the Navarre region dawned sunny and beautiful
We took a moment to enjoy the view looking back down at Zariquiegui
The Church of the Crucifix in Puente La Reina
contains an unusual Y-shaped crucifix within
Then we visited the church in Villamayor de Monjardin before
heading over to Bar Ilarra for their pilgrim dinner at 7:30 pm
Another 4 miles of easy walking brought us
to the medieval town of Sansol (population 104)
Room #1 at El Olivo de Sansol cost €45 with
private bath -- but wait till you see the view