Saturday, February 20, 2016

3rd leg of Camino Providence of Navarra: St. Jean, France to Viana, Spain

St. Jean, France to Roncesvalles, Spain
 Nancy walked from St. Jean to Roncesvalles, over the Pyrenees Mountains (Route de Napoleon). Elevation gain is 4,757 feet (1,450 meters). Due to the steepness of the decent, I decided to take the bus to Roncesvalles. Most people who get injured fall coming down the Pyrenees. This was a decision of prevention of my falling. My hip Surgery with 3 screws at the end of Feb. drove my decision and my surgeon telling me "don't fall".
Sept 7th: Nancy stayed at the Orisson Hostel (5 miles / 8 Km) along with 17 other Pilgrims. A reservation is needed, and we obtained reservations for Sept 7th. There was no room on Sept 6th. One can not stay if there is no bed. Even if you were in dire need of a bed, you will be turned away and your options would be sleep outside, walk or take a taxi back to St. Jean, or walk the rest of the way to Roncesvalles (10.5 miles or 17 Km)  I sold my reservation to Sue (one of the ladies who had shared our taxi to St. Jean), and she was very appreciative as she had a desire to stay in Orisson. It is very lovely there and the walk is awarded with fabulous views.   Here are some pictures that Nancy took:

Nancy                                                                         Sue



  Markers to show the way

 All along the Camino, you will find grave sites or memorial markers of people who died while on the Camino; either by accidents or natural causes.

 My Bus ride to Roncisvalles was peaceful, as I thought of Nancy on her walking journey and her enjoying her own peaceful adventure on our first day of travel on the Camino.  I asked several local people where the bus stop was, as it was not apparent from the directions the Tourist Information Center had given me the day before. I came to find out that if you ask 3 Spanish people the same question, you may get 3 different answers. I found the bus stop and there were several other Americans there, also taking the bus to Roncisvalles. There was a Spanish man hanging around, and initially I thought he was friends to one of the ladies; but later found out that he was just hanging around. We stopped "paying attention" to him and he left. We think he was looking for a hand-out.
Here are a few pictures from my bus ride
 Sunrise for Nancy as she descends the Pyrenees Mountains on Sept 8th.

 I stayed at Albergue Roncesvalles - with 183 beds, 2 bunk beds to a cubicle. Since the 12th Century, the town has been welcoming Pilgrims. 
Albergue de peregrinos de Roncesvalles, en Roncesvalles | Albergue de ...

Courtyard walking away from the front door of the Albergue
The people sleeping in my cubicle: Dan from Czech Republic, Mark from Belgium (he spoke very little English) and Keren from Sweden. I had a nice conversation with Dan and Keren about their countries and their lives. I was excited that on my first day I was introduced to different cultures.
Surprisingly, the section where I slept was very quiet - no snoring. At 6 AM, 2 men (volunteers) walked around singing Georgian Chant for our wake up call. What a flavor of spirituality to start my second day (Sept 8th).
 I ate breakfast with Suzanne form Canada. Suzanne was an amazing women and I would run into her off and on during my Camino walk. Suzanne had a roller blade accident many years ago and one of her arms was paralyzed. She was walking the Camino alone (yet one is never alone). Her Camino words of wisdom to me were -- "As you are walking, if you are not enjoying the scenery, you are walking too fast." I would remember these words every day of my walk - and even now I remind myself to Slow Down.  Another Lady I met in Roncesvalles was Mary -- we enjoyed each others company, eating at  La Posada.
 While I was waiting for Nancy to arrive on Sept 8th, I walked 5 miles /  8 Km (round trip) to Puerto Ibaneta - formerly the site of the Church and Hospice of San Salvador built in 1127. The church was moved to Roncesvalles, and there is now a modern chapel and a stone monument to Roland. Roland was one of Charlemagne's soldiers; and it was in the Pyrenees near Roncesvalles where the Basques killed Roland and defeated Charlemagne's army. Charlemagne was a defender of Christianity, gave money and land to the Christian church and protected the popes. He died in 814 AD. 

Scenes along my way to Roland's monument. 

Roland Died in 778; Monument erected in 1967 ....

I enjoyed lunch with other ladies at Casa Sabrina - quiche, bread and a beer.

Nancy arrived in Roncesvalles around 2 PM.  Pilgrim Dinner, with a  room full of people (approx 40) included: Pasta, fish, bread, variety of desserts and  all the wine one wanted to drink.

 Pilgrim Mass at Church in Roncesvalles: Iglesia de Santa Maria-- This was a special event to help me maintain my peacefulness as I begin this fabulous adventure.

Nancy and I stayed at the Hotel Roncesvalles - a very relaxing and beautiful place.

                        Other sites in Roncesvalles:                          
The Royal Collegiate Church of St. Mary where several relics associated to Roland are buried.


 Represents walking The Camino

Sept 9, 2015: Roncesvalles to Zubiri -- 13.3 Miles / 21.5 Km
             only 790 Km to completion.

-- Ready for my first long day of walking...... approx. 16 # back pack. I purposely choose a smaller back pack; so as not to take too much "stuff" along and as you can see, it's packed tightly full with items hanging off the back of it. (1 pair of hiking boots - Keens; 1 pair of sandals, 3 sets of cloths, 1 fleece jacket, 1 rain jacket & pants, 4 pairs of socks and underwear, Ibuprofen and other necessary medications, mole skin (if needed for blisters) and hiking goo (applied every morning to prevent blisters and changed to Vaseline after goo ran out). 
 The Scallop Shell hung on my back pack for the duration of my time in Spain. This back pack served me well and only on the last week or so, did I have some left shoulder / upper arm discomfort due to a combination weight of my back pack or constant use of my 2 hiking poles.
Today included several steep hills - mostly declines. After 8 hrs - including rest periods, I descended into the beautiful village of Zubiri. I enjoyed a fabulous meal at the end of the day with Nancy & 8 people I meet on the way. One person who helped me during the day was Charlie - he walked with me off and on, and reminded me to "turn around and look where you came from." The scenery as I turned around looked totally different. I would keep this practice up during my days of walking. And even today I remind myself to take the time to reflect on where I've been....
One of many churches I would see along the way.  
There were 6 villages to pass through before arriving in Zubiri.

 The paths were often gravel, dirt, stone or asphalt. 

 First Coffee break... with breakfast - egg tortilla

I saw many tractors along the way -- with a few fields for lifestock and gates along the way that

 Following the yellow arrows. 
Pilgrims will put stones on top of the markers to signify their intentions.

 We met AnnaMarie off and on throughout our travels. She traveled along, and often started her walking day before sunrise. This is one of the many drinkable water stations along the way.

 Resting my Hiking Poles....

The first day I'm experiencing magnificent scenery. Even though my first day consisted of 8 hours on the trail, I was energized and only a little fatigued at the end of the day.

Looking back through the trees - I can identify the village in the valley that I passed through.

Food Vendor that was located along the way

A short
and a snack

Signs coming into Zubiri -
There was a steep hill just before this bridge leading into Zubiri, and as I approached the bridge, I heard Nancy's holler welcoming me to this beautiful village. Total decent = 1476 feet or 450 meters.
We stayed at a lovely Hostel (also called Albergue). Rio Arga Ibaia:  our room had 2 bunk beds - we shared the room with a couple from Germany. Nancy was gracious and took the top bunk. I draped a sheet up for privacy - about half way through my journey, I got rid of the sheet as I seldom used it, and in an effort to decrease the weight of my pack (eliminate the 'baggage')
On the patio off our room - tired and excited.
 Sharing time with Charlie -- he started his journey in France; and had already walked 1000 km or 600 miles
with Sue, Melody, Charlie, Liz, Linda, Regan, and 2 men from Italy

We would run into our Italian friends off and on during our journey.

Sept 10, 2015 : Zubiri to Pamplona ---  13.2 miles / 21.2 Km

 We started out at sunrise with our rain gear on, fortunately; we were able to remove layers as the day progressed. Temps 60 - 70 degrees.                                     Outside Alberque Rio Arga Ibaia, in Zubiri
 A misty morning
Coffee break



An Abby we saw along the way - I believe that they had rooms --  22 C = 71 F.

 There are some inspirational artist in Spain...
 The road was fairly flat today - 2 elevations each up and down 100 meters or 328 feet
 only 6.8 miles to Pamplona
 Entering Zuriain

 We would see many modern doors on very old buildings....                a Fisherman

 One of the Memorials along the way....

 Many of the fields were plowed or cultivated, as the crops had already been harvested.


 Steep hills - approximately 4 miles from Pamplona

Going up and turning around and looking behind me.

 Beautiful scenery helped me keep my energy level up.

 Just outside of Pamplona , 
                          yet we still had 4 miles / 7 km before we would reach the center of Pamplona

We met people from the USA -- Seattle and Oregon. 

 Tired and ready to get our back packs off....

Entering Pamplona - Pedestrian Bridge, Rio Sadar built in the 16th century.
 Entering Pamplona, population 190,000. Tall wall  is 3 miles long, and was built some time before the year 1515.  We walked part of the way with Di and Paul. They live in South Africa -- I met Di, briefly in Roncesvalles -- Paul had walked over the Pyrenees and Di had friends drop her off in Roncesvalles. Di's gift to Paul was to wait for him in Roncesvalles and Paul (who is a faster walker then Di) agreed to keep Di's pace as they walked the 500 mile Camino. We would be lucky enough to find them again in a few days.


We stopped at the tourism office in Pamplona and received directions to Hotel Eslava (on a quiet street). The Hotel receptionist was the daughter of the couple who started the hotel. She allowed us to take her picture - after she combed her hair....
 Some of the sites in Pamplona 

 Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real
 We found a lovely Tapas Bar, El Mentidero, and a fine Spanish gentleman to help us choose which Tapas to get - he put together an assortment of Tapas + glass of wine for 10 Euros

Sept 11, 2015: Pamplona to Utera --  10.8 miles /  17.4 Km

 Today we have a 350 meter elevation with a steep decline, so for 7 euros I sent my back pack ahead via taxi and used the small day pack we had with us. We had our "usual" for breakfast - Coffee and Carbs and I was excited to be walking plus somewhat concerned about the steepness of the decline at the end of our journey today. I found myself saying lots of prayers each day for my safety and for my family back home who were having medical issues.
Leaving Pamplona: 
 Following the scallop shells embedded in the sidewalks.

Jacokea University
 Heading away from the city...
Looking back on Pamplona
Looking forward towards the mountain to climb today
 The first incline of the day -- Looking back towards Pamplona -- with a rarely seen runner...
 Large open fields.
Village of Cizur Menor

 wooded area, with berries and fruit -- not sure what they are....



Forrest followed by open fields

and a castle on the hill
 More rolling hills
 and rocky path
 Beautiful countryside
 Town of Zariquiegui -- half way up the mountain

 Church of St. Andrew


Total Incline today of 1150 feet or 350 meters over approx. 7 Km,
and the decent is  820 feet or 290 meters over approx. 2 km long, so it is very steep......

The path turned into looser rocks. Wind mills on top of the hill.
Nancy trucked ahead of me and we planned to meet in Uterga.  Here I found a blue stocking hat -- I had dropped my hat several days prior and another pilgrim picked it up and gave it to me. I was hoping that I would find the owner of the blue hat.

The climb was well worth the view - This is the Alto del Perdon -- wrought iron representation of mid-evil pilgrims, heads bent to the west wind.

1:30 PM  and I'm at the top of the mountain -- now for my slow decent to Uterga
 I found Dennis at the top of the Mountain - owner of the blue hat -- He had passed me on the way up the mountain. He was doing the Camino on his bicycle and biked to the top of the mountain, then realized that he had left his journal at the bar in Zariqiegui. So he walked the 1.5 miles / 2.4 km down and back up again, loosing his hat on the way up -- round trip = 3 miles. He was very happy to have his hat back.

On the way down, the trail was very steep, and I took my time with the remaining
2.2 miles / 3.7 km   It took me approx. 2 hours to get to

I depended on my hiking poles to support me all the way down.

The beauty of the country side helped me make my way down, plus I rested frequently. Several people passed me along the way, yet the path was not overly crowded. We had heard that 400 pilgrims were leaving St. Jean each day. I was glad to not need to maneuver around people / people needing to maneuver around me on my slow progress down hill.

 Over the years, pilgrims placed rocks on this pill. 
A reminder for me of the spiritual nature of the Camino
 Along the way, I passed a Korean couple who were praying the rosary out loud. I was blessed to have heard them.  A brief moment later, a man came up behind me singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water". I thanked him for his song, and we walked together for awhile. We stopped here and as he "rambled on" I needed to move on, so I asked if I could take his picture.. He said no..... In his conversation, he shared that he was from Pamplona and on holiday. Plus he shared that Spanish men are very lazy.  He looked more like a local (no back pack), and my thinking was that he was a highwayman or bandido, so I quickly moved on; with a prayer of thanks to the Korean couple sitting on a bench a short distance behind me.

The Camino path is often shared with the farmers.

Entering Uterga happy and tired.


 Great time for a nice cold beer!!!!
 Nancy found a very nice room for us - private room, with balcony, 2 beds, common kitchen area, patio with back yard --

............we were creative with hanging up our wet enjoyed an apple and
 sitting in the shade of our patio.

The owner of the Camino del Perdon Albergue -  Nadia -- was a delight. She spoke very good English and we enjoyed her hospitality. Fabulous dinner with salad, speegittie and cheese and of course - Wine.
While in Uterga, we met  Bonnie and Sandra (biological sisters) from the USA and we would run into them later on in our travels and stay connected with them after returning to the USA.
Others that we met here were: Kim and Peter - we saw them off and on in the days ahead - Kim had difficulty with shin splints several days later and she received help from Jim - a pilgrim who was also a doctor and carried supplies with him to assist as needed. Our 2 handsome Italian gentlemen were also here.

 The view from our balcony.

Sept 12, 2015: Utera to Lorca 14 miles / 22.5 Km

 We started walking around 7:30 AM with our rain gear on, as the clouds were somewhat dark. We had a few sprinkles off and on -- a nice "Seattle - type" rain. As soon as the rain stopped, we came to a section of the road where on either side the farmer had his irrigation running -- so we trucked forward and the irrigation water 'rained' upon us. The temps were mild, so we were delighted by this little adventure. We now started to see corn fields

We took the detour 1.5 miles / 2.8 km off the main path to visit Eunate 12th century Church which is linked with the Knight's Templar. The Templar Knights were long time protectors of the pilgrims. The countryside was spectacular and we were both feeling strong with limited soreness of muscles. 

Our next village was Puente la Reina -  an easy 2.7 miles / 4.4 Km

 St. John the Baptist Church

 I can imagine St. James
stopping here to obtain
water from the well.

 Heading to Puente La Reina
Monument dedicated to the Pilgrims in Puente La Reina

Church of the Crucifixion

 Leaving Puente La Reina, crossing the River Arga
 12th century Pilgrim Bridge
 Nuns that we meet as we are leaving Puente La Reina,

We are making good progress, and it's around11 AM. We had not decided, yet how far to walk today. I had more energy then I anticipated. Along the way, we sent messages to Sergio - a native of Spain, who was a foreign exchange student with us when my son, Eric was in High  School. The plan was for Sergio to meet us at our final destination. We were hoping that he was getting our messages.
 Church in Maneru
 Ahead is Cirauqui, which is where we thought we might spend the night.......
 We are starting to get into Vineyard country...
 Entering Cirauqui around 1 PM -- way too early to stop for the day.  ... As you can see, Nancy is usually a few steps ahead of me....
 Lovely outline of the Continents, just outside of Cirauqui
 A long dirt road...........
 Getting closer to our destination of Lorca
 We failed to realize that there was a very steep incline(325 feet / 100 meters)  just before Lorca. This would not be so difficult, except it at the end of our day -- here I passed Nancy, as my strength faster on the inclines (Nancy had approx 6 more #s in her back pack then I did which slowed her going up hill; and I was slower going down). I'm taking this picture, looking back to where I came from.

 After the steep incline the town still was not visible. In the Mid-evil days, villages often built their villages on a hill, as it was easier to protect themselves from their enemies. We still had a fair distance to travel, plus a slight incline. We prayed for our angels to lighten our load.
Lorca was a small village, One street, length approx. 3 blocks long;
with 2 Albergues- we picked the one with the Coke Cola sign...
 Sergio arrived about 5 PM - It was a joy to see him, as it had been around
13 years since we had seen each other


Bonnie and Sandra joined us for dinner --
all the Pilgrim meals are 8 - 11 Euros, with lots of good bread & wine and 3 course meal

Nancy left her hat in Uterga, so Sergio helped with discussion 
to the waitress to see if any
Pilgrims had left items for others.
Nancy found this cool hat
so she was a happy Pilgrim.

...... I'm learning that one needs
to ask for what they need,
even if it is a 'silly' request.

A good thing to remember,
no matter where I am.............

Sergio left us around 9 PM, to drive back to Zaragoza - it would be after midnight before he arrived home. I was blessed that he was able and willing to make the journey to see me.

Sept 13, 2015: Locra to Estella 8 Km  (needing a shorter walking day)

 On the road again...

 Village of Villatuerta  and Coffee break


The road into Estella

 Rio Ega

 As we walked into Estella, I ran into Desiree  (from Switzerland) -- we met each other several days prior and we shared our woes about our aches and pains. We are now connected via Face Book.

 We stopped at the Tourist Office to find an Albergue for the night. The Tourist Lady was very busy and she had a good command of the English language. We were next in line and she said: " Sit down and don't stress me out". We laughed about this and received a good deal of personal attention when it was our turn. 

 Albergue De Peregrinos

The Alberque
was very comfortable

We found several 
lovely Bars to 
hang out in
One was the
Florida Bar


 San Pedro Church

Monastery San Benito and Basilica of Virgen Del Puy

Sept 14, 2015 : Estella to Los Arcos  -----  13 miles / 21 Km

Several hills to climb up and down today.  Vineyards, open fields and hills. Along the way, we stopped at the Wine fountain with only 2 villages along the way, so we took extra food and water.

 Wine fountain -- it was 0800 so we did not partake in too much wine...
 Pilgrims are everywhere..............
 5 miles / 8 Km and we have arrived in Azqueta
 Man handing out figs - they were delicious...

More beautiful countryside as we continue on ....
 Church in Villamayor de Monjaroin -- Priest stamping pilgrim's passport

Music and food vendor out in the middle of nowhere...
Arrived in Los Arcos and ran into Suzanne (Lady I had met in St. Jean Pied de Port), 
plus Bonnie and Sandra

We enjoyed eating pizza and 
Paella with Bonnie, Sandra and Reikie from Belgium
plus attended Mass 
at Santa Maria Church 
along with a Pilgrim Blessing

The Church bells
continuously for
15 minutes
just prior to Mass - 

they were beautiful

 Sept 15, 2015: Los Arcos to Viana -----  11 miles / 17.6 Km
 We left at 0745, and again our weather is almost perfect. Cool Temps 60 degrees in the AM, with highs in low 70's. We have yet to experience any rain. We walked up and down 2 mountains today with steep declines. My legs were sore when we arrived in Viana around 1330.

Our Road started out being flat and easy -- followed by 2 "hills"
 Village of Sansol at the top of the first "hill"


                        Several flowers were in bloom


 Wine Country , Sunflower fields have been harvested.

Looking back - Sansol off in the  distance- 
Climbing the second "Hill" 500 feet / 170 meters in elevation.

 Along the way many pilgrims placed stones, pine cones to symbolize their journey along the way.  Here are some pictures of the many rocks. Several pilgrims places pieces of papers under their rocks.

 Continuing on to Viana -- more vineyards

 Hut the Shepherds used centuries ago


 Entering Viana

--- Found a comfortable bed at Hotel: Palacio de Pujadas -- Tired legs 

Santa Maria Church in Viana -- Church was closed due to a festival
 - Nancy dancing with the Spanish Men.

 Children having fun !!
 Young man running from the 'real' bulls

We watched the bulls from the gate on the door of our hotel

Next Blog -  Viana  to Trabadelo

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