50 Days of Camino

Kevin Soltysiak's travel log of the way of St. James, the "Camino de Santiago"

Pamplona ~ Navarra

Tiebas — Pamplona

I was still sick when I woke up, but I felt better than the day before. The walk to Puente la Reina was short and quick, with Loïc, Ilay and I arriving there shortly before 14h. We grabbed lunch in a restaurant: it was the first time we were disappointed with food in Spain, both price-wise and quality-wise, but I guess it had to happen sooner or later.

We noticed a radical change once we got to Puente la Reina, and even in the town before, Obanos: it was the place where the Camino Aragones merged the Camino Frances, and therefore we started seeing way more pilgrims than we were used to!

It was time to say goodbye to Ilay: Loïc and I had planned to go in Pamplona and stay there a couple of days. The city wasn’t on our way, but the grand master of maps (Loïc) felt it would be a good place to take a break in. Meanwhile Ilay was going on, which meant we probably wouldn’t be seeing him again. But that’s what happen on the Camino: people come and go. It’s all part of the experience :)

We took a bus to Pamplona. Since it wasn’t on our way, we felt justified in not walking for once. Once there, we checked into an albergue ran by germans, and you could sense it: it felt both very strict and welcoming at the same time, which was odd. We felt a bit trapped because of the restrictions: the doors would close at 22h and we had to be gone by 8h on the morrow. Most albergues on the Camino Frances work that way, but we didn’t know that yet, and the ones we had stayed in up until then were more relaxed…

But we had checked in, so we decided to take the rest of the day slow. We had a few drinks, ate here and there, and we randomly ran into Jens again. Loïc also stumbled upon Peter and Ann, who we hadn’t seen since Izco, where they told us they were making a detour and then would be going back home. Small world !

Then I left them and went.. on a tinder date. I know. Don’t judge. But my reasoning was that it would be a good way to meet locals without feeling like intruding into a group, something I’m not comfortable with. So I had a few drinks with Andrea, born and raised in Pamplona! She showed me around until we were interupted by a heavy rain… We both didn’t care much, but I was dressed lightly and got soaked to the bones. After one last drink, I went back to my albergue and got to spend the first of many nights in a dorm with heavy snorers.

Pamplona (2)

We got woke up at 6h sharp, german style. Despite the italian snorer (that I nicknamed “Thundernose”), the night was a good one, and so was the breakfast. It more than made up for the sharpness of the whole experience: we were out by 8h, which would be perfect had we intended to walk; but we wanted to stick around the whole day, and the rain didn’t make the city very appealing at the time. We found a place in the street to stay while we were considering our next moves.

Morning weather

Loïc tried to find linen to be warmer when he would be sleeping outside. My mind was made up about not doing that again unless the temperatures improved, so it was not an issue for me; instead I went at a local sport store to buy some warmer clothes and a pair of running shoes, just in case.

We met again for lunch. Since we had a bad experience the previous day we decided to go to the deep end of it and set the bar as low as we could: we went at Burger King. After that we found a hostel and went there to drop our stuff; that night there would be no curfew. I tried to go for a run, but after the burgers it was pretty dumb. We rested there a bit then went out and hit the bars. We met Jens again, then ran into another group of french people in a bar where a band was playing.

The rest of the night is a bit blurry, due to how much we drank. We went from place to place and even to a club, something we usually don’t do at home. More people were met, shots were drunk, fights were avoided… I managed to walk us back to the hostel without too much trouble.

Pamplona — Puente la Reina

I woke up a bit hungover, but compared to Loïc I was in great shape. The rain had finally stopped so after breakfast I walked around the city and enjoyed it, while Loïc was resting and slowly made his come back to human form.

Early in the afternoon we took a bus back to Puente la Reina and checked into one of the albergues. Loïc kept resting while I grabbed drinks with a few pilgrims I met at the albergue, and we both went to bed quite early.

A wedding, I guess?

Puente la Reina — Los Arcos

We woke up early and fully rested. After coffee we started walking towards Estella. The route was nice, with old bridges and old towns here and there. We arrived around 12h30, way earlier than we had planned. So early that after lunch, after considering how far were the next towns (20~25km) we decided to go for it. It was challenging, but what we needed after the break and the slow days from before.

You can see the whole world! Wine!

Right after Estella, we found the famed wine faucet. We drank a little from it, because well, free wine! But since we had a lot to walk, we didn’t stay there long. The afternoon walk was enjoyable and took us through forests, hills and fields! After a little while I started feeling very good and energized so I took off. After a while I realized I lost Loïc: I tried waiting for him a few times but he was nowhere to be seen.. So I decided to walk all the way to Los Arcos and wait for him at the albergue.

I arrived around 17:30, earlier than expected, but not early enough for my legs and feet who were starting to let me know they were not happy with walking so much in a day. I checked into the albergue first thing, then found Loïc. He had ran into the pilgrim from Hungary that we had met two weeks earlier in France, Zoltan, and decided to spent the night outside with him and his friends, Manu and Stephan. After dinner with Jens, it was time for me to rest.

Previously: Camino Aragones

Next: La Rioja