Day 4-6: You are NOT in Spain

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April 4th 2012
Published: June 28th 2012
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You are not in Spain; This is Basque Country!

April 4: Zubiri to Pamplona

Today was the day that we arrived at our first big city along the route, Pamplona. I remember the walk fondly as I spend most of my day walking with Sara. This is the day that Sara and I's relationship really blossomed. Sara is a wonderful young woman from Sweden who has a heart of gold and the funniest personality. She truly is her own person with a wild character that is hard not to like. We instantly clicked even though we are two very different people.

Approaching Pamplona I noticed a lot of signs and graffiti everywhere saying, "You are in Basque Country!" "This is not Spain" "Freedom for the Basque!" I know that it can be a rather touchy subject but I really wanted to know more about it and so I decided that when the time was right that I would ask Ainhoa about it...

Journal Entry--------------------

Wednesday April 4th, 2012

Everyone in my room in the albergue woke up around 0730. It was nice to not have to rise so early. I had iced my knee and ankle over night and surprisingly they both felt a lot better, but still a bit sore. I ate a little cereal for breakfast... God I hate eating breakfast.

Tina sends her pack onward in a car with a pickup service that takes the pack from town to town so that she doesn't have to carry so much weight. She let me send on my heavy walking boots with her pack so that I wouldn't have to carry them. I feel like I should just toss them because they hurt my ankles so badly.

I started walking with the normal group of people I tend to gravitate towards plus one other woman. Pretty soon though it was just Sara and I. Sara is a funny Swedish girl who walks at a slow pace like me. Because of this, we walked most of the day together and every now and again we would catch up with the others.

Today wasn't supposed to be as hard as the past three days, but I felt like it was. I think this was probably due to my knee hurting. We soon met back up with Tina who was stopped on the side of the path tending to her blisters. We stopped to eat some lunch in a little park next to a river and then the three of us continued walking together.

We didn't arrive at the albergue in Pamplona until around 1600! The three of us settled in and showered and then at 1830 met up with Molly, Ainhoa, Arrita, Trinie and the two Swiss girls for dinner. They all wanted Pinchos, which are the Basque version of tapas. The two Swiss girls, Ana and Florence, and I decided that we were rather hungry and wanted to have something like a burger or pizza and so we went off to eat elsewhere.

We had a really nice time talking. Ana and Florence are 18 & 19 years old and have just finished school. They wanted a challenge and to do something fun before possibly starting University and so they decided to walk the Camino together.

Afterwards I headed back to the albergue and got ready for bed. I was so happy to have ear plugs as it was so loud with many people in a large open room. I really enjoyed walking with Sara today because she really does say the funniest crap I have ever heard.

Tomorrow I decided will be a rest day for me because I want to see more of Pamplona...

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I remember when Sara and I had decided to stop for lunch. We walked off the path and realized that Tina was sitting down near the river. She was tending to her blisters and looked very distressed. She did not have scissors and needed them desparately to cut a bandage for her foot. It just so happened that I had a pair easily accessible in my pack. That's the way of the Camino; If you need something you get it.

This was not only the day that I realized I had made a friend forever in Sara, but also the day that I clicked with Tina. She is a 41 year old Australian woman with a silly sense of humor. The Camino provides people with the opportunity to connect with people they otherwise never would. It really is amazing.

April 5: Rest day in Pamplona

Sometimes you just need a day of rest. I had decided before I even started my journey that I would take an extra day off in any city that I felt I would like more time to explore. Tina had also decided the same thing and naturally we agreed that we should spend our day off in Pamplona together.

Journal Entry--------------------

Thursday April 5th, 2012

This morning Tina and I slept in as we both have decided to take a rest day today. My knees sure could use it. My one knee is quite swollen now. We woke up around 0730 and started to search the web for places to stay. Tina booked a room in a hotel- Puerta del Camino- for €80 a night. That is way too expensive for me so I had planned on staying in a hostel.

Tina ended up inviting me to stay in a double room in the hotel with her because it was the same price for her either way. She said that I could just give her whatever amount I was going to pay for a hostel which was €20. She is so nice...

I unpacked my pack and got on the computer for a little white. Then I took a bath!! Tina and I both fell asleep for three hours during siesta! When we woke up from our nap we went out for some pinchos for lunch. They are the Basque version of tapas but I like them so much more than tapas.

We walked around the city but everything was closed for Holy Thursday and also because of siesta. We made our way to the park around 1830 as we had arranged to meet up with Ainhoa, Arrita and Molly for dinner. Ainhoa and Arrita, both being Basque, wanted to take us out for pinchos the way that Basque people do. So we all put money into a kitty and went from bar to bar.

The streets were filled with people. It was so crowded that you literally had to push your way through people. It was so interesting because if there was a place that was so full that people were spilling out of it, we would go in. They said that if a place is really busy and full of people that means that the place is a good place.

It was such a wonderful experience. I love that Molly is with us to translate back and forth between Spanish and English. I am able to understand so much more Spanish, but I am horrible at trying to speak it. Molly is a Spanish teacher and has spent so much time in Spain that she speaks like a native. She has a wonderful accent. I have been practising my Spanish with Ainhoa and she has been teaching Molly and I a couple little phrases in Basque. What a unique language!

It was a perfect night.

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Today was a day that I will never forget. It is such an amazing feeling to be in a strange city in another country and be surrounded by so many friends. Of course it was a holiday and so the streets were crammed with people at night. Tina and I met up with our friends and went out for the most amazing Basque experience ever!

The funny thing about meeting back up with everyone else was that they had gotten up this morning and continued to walk. It ended up that they had gotten lost in Pamplona and it had taken them literally hours to get out of the city. They had a bunch of mishaps and only ended up walking about 5km out of the city. They then decided to bus back to Pamplona to spend the evening with Tina and I.

We had so much fun going bar to bar sampling pinchos and wine! The food was absolutely amazing! We went to a mussel place that was so so so so busy and so we knew that it must be a good place to eat. Ainhoa told us that it is a very famous place to eat mussels in Pamplona. Now, I honestly do not like mussels, but of course I had to try some. I was so happy that I did because I ended up loving them!!! I remember thinking that I have to take Lee here when we come back to Spain. He would LOVE it.

Today was a perfect example of my favorite kind of travel-- interactive travel. I love meeting locals and speaking with them, going to eat where they eat and see what a night out on the town is actually like. If it were not for Ainhoa, Arrita and Trinie we never would have had this experience. It really was perfect.

April 6: Pamplona to Uterga

After our night out in Pamplona Tina and I went back to our hotel room and our friends went to stay in a hostel. Since they had already walked out of Pamplona and then bused back to hangout with Tina and I, they decided that they would stay the night in Pamplona and then today they bused forward to where they had walked to yesterday and continued walking from there. So today ended up being just Tina and I walking together.

Journal Entry--------------------

Friday April 6th, 2012

When Tina and I woke up in our hotel room it was a little after 0800. It was pouring rain outside and so we decided to take our time. It is always much harder walking out into the rain first thing in the morning than if it just starts to rain after already walking.

We left the hotel around 1000 with all of our rain gear on. Despite all of the rain, we both were overly optimistic and laughed all day long. It was so hard walking up and down steep hills soaking wet and with about a foot of mud under our boots. We were slipping all over the damn place.

We made it to Uterga and decided to stay at the albergue there. Our room quickly filled up with pilgrims struggling in the rain. We sat at the bar and had some hot drinks. The pilgrim dinner was held in the same building as the albergue and as always, was wonderful and so filling. We went to sleep some time around 2200. We both were exhausted.

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I remember this day being so much fun. At first Tina and I were a little mad because it was pouring rain all day long. However, after thinking about it for a minute I realized there is nothing I could do about it so why would I waste my energy being mad about something I don't have control over?

The walk this day was very hilly and the mud was crazy! Tina and I had passed a bunch of pilgrims at one point who had taken shelter under a monument and we overheard them discussing whether they would go on or not. There was no way that Tina and I wanted to stop so we continued on up the mountain with thunder in the distance making jokes about one another. Americans and Australians make the best of friends because they are so good at making fun of one another.

Once we reached the top of the mountain it was still pouring rain and then lightning started to strike! We laughed and laughed because we thought it was so ridiculous that we were climbing a mountain in the pouring rain sliding up and down unable to keep a stable stance.

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