And finally we have internet! The last few albergues (hostels) have either had extremely slow internet or one computer that everyone wanted to use.
So... much has happened since the last post! On Monday we slept in Pamplona, in a decent hostel. Angi, Sarah and I got up at 7am and weren't concerned about rushing as the post office didn't open till 8.30am. Once we were ready we headed straight there, and 20 minutes later were 3.9kg lighter! Fantastic! In high spirits we found some great coffee and set off to hike 21km. We walked all the way through Pamplona into the nearby fields and started heading for the hills. We could see modern windmill-farms in the distance and the road was decent, muddy and rocky sometimes but ok. We climbed up and up, heading towards Alto de Perdon, which is famous because there are a set of life size sillouettes of the pilgrims made out of metal at the top. It was windy and the wind mills were huge and very close at the top. We got some funny photos up there.
After the peak we were on the sheltered side of the hills and it was a steep rocky decent down onto the vinyard and crop lands of the Navarra region. We reached Urtega, 6km from our destination, tired and sore, so we stopped for ice cream. Then it was off again; going through towns 2km apart, each seemingly deserted! I have heard that many small towns in Spain are deserted; only the older generation live there with a few exeptions. We saw some children coming out of school at 5.30pm in the small town 2km from Puenta La Reina. We could have stopped there but we kicked on; the last 2km was so painful for me, but I was so happy we did it because we had some luck in Puenta La Reina! We went to the first aubergue we saw, and were given the last 3 beds in the place! We went to the dormitory and we could only find 2 beds, so the owner apologised profusely and gave us a private room! It was great. Then... we went upstairs for dinner, the usual 11Euro, and found it to be a buffet with entrés, salads, a chef-run meat section with chips and... a dessert table with little cakes and ice cream! It was so magnificent that I would go back there if I was ever here again.
On Tuesday we woke up and paid 7.50 for breakfast, again, a magnificent buffet that was well worth the money. We stole some food for the day (everyone does it) and started walking our 22km to Estella in good spirits. Over the town's beautiful bridge and along a nice dirt road, then uphill along a steep rocky track. We followed the highway for a while and overall went through 4 towns which again seemed mostly deserted beyond the single bar/shop. Today we worked out that 3 girls walking together was most useful for keeping an eye out when we needed to pee behind the bushes! It was my toughest day, a bit of up and down but not too hard, but very sunny and hot and everything hurt. The last 4km or so were awful for my ankles and muscles in my feet. A fellow pilgrim gave me panadol to help my headache but as soon as we reached our aubergue in Estella I fell straight to sleep. Angi and Sarah went out to get photos of the church and when they got back I had managed to do my washing and shower so we went out for a usual dinner before going to bed.
On a side note... it's funny how we have fallen into the pilgrim routine... walk, arrive, nap for me while Angi explores, get up, shower, washing, writing/internet, dinner (often a pilgrim menu), get ready for bed, bed at 10pm, wake up at 6am, pack up, breakfast, walk. And it's funny how we have come to absolutely hate snorrers. We can't even bring ourselves to smile at them in the morning sometimes! I am getting used to earplugs though. Also, I have come to love my poles. They push me up the hills, they help me down the hills, and when I'm tired they keep me upright! I don't think I could do this walk without them!
Yesterday we were up and atem by 7.30am, trying to avoid some of the heat. We found breakfast in a nearby pub where the owner gave us all hats! They didn't last long though because we didn't want to carry the extra 100gm! We set off uphill, through the vinyards, and stumbled accross an interesting monastery. It had... a fountain of wine! We arrived around 9.15am and two belgium guys had been waiting since 8am for it to start working at 9am. They had filled 2 litre bottles of wine and were getting set for a big day! We had token sips then headed off again, keen to push on. It was a good track, wide and no mud. We climbed up to the town Villamayor where we stopped for water and a usual cheese baguette (our food of choice for the day) and I chilled in the shade while Angi and Sarah looked around. Today we stumbled accross fig trees and grapes which were great to eat along the way! It was very hot, flat and boring for the rest of the day (thank goodness for my sun-proof clothes) and we made it to Los Arcos, a town that reminded me of a deserted Mexican town at first. We found a good aubergue, run by Austrians and looking very Nimbin-like, with fantastic showers, where the rooms were small and we had a decent sleep. Overall I felt much better than the day before!
Today we left Los Arcos at 7.30am (as early as possible after breakfast, to avoid the heat), in readiness for our 29km day. We blasted the first 10km along the flat road to the first towns and then it started getting hard. Up and down, up and down, rolling hills through the vinyards. When we reached Viana, 9km from our destination, I pulled the pin and decided to catch the bus into Logrono. Sarah decided to leave us then, staying in Viana, and Angi pushed on to walk the rest of the way. The aubergue tonight is good, I just hope we can sleep as there is supposed to be a wine fiesta that may mean loud people in the street tonight! Lets hope not!
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