Zubiri to Pamplona

Mar 30. Day 4. 20.9 km. Left at 0717 hours, arrived 1445 hours.

The Zubiri albergue, relative to the going lodging rate, had charged us an extra Euro 5 each for breakfast. Since our usual breakfast for the two of us typically comes up to Euro 6 or so, we thought we may get better than the Valcarlos municipal albergue (which had breakfast as part of the accommodation rate). Sadly, no. Our breakfast was a sliced baguette bread of about 8 inches, 2 slabs of butter and 2 jam pods. Plus coffee. Helping local businesses is always great, abetting profit mongering is a different matter. Perhaps our contributions is helping with the capital costs of the renovated bathrooms?

TIP: If nearby cafes open early, just book accommodation at albergues, and get/pay for a more substantial breakfast to power your walk!

Let’s chat about the albergue dormitory experience. Our two so far has been 10 beds though there are larger ones. The pluses are:

1. Accommodation costs is very low, about Euro 10 per person. It’s difficult to stay more than one night unless there’s health reasons. The cheapest option is camping (we saw two tents as we walked out this morning).

2. Most albergues are centrally located, to any historical center and the Camino route.

3. Albergues that offer a pilgrims dinner offers a great opportunity to meet other pilgrims.

4. They have kitchens that facilitate those who prefer to cook their own meals, for nutritional or special dietary reasons. One can strike up friendships based on time in the kitchen!

There are minuses, when there are 8-9 strangers in the same dorm.

5. The odds of a bad sleeper, who snores or sleeps badly is high. Ear plugs are recommended. This doesn’t help if your bunk bed companion is a terrible sleeper who moves a lot during the night.

6. Depending on the season, the risks of colds or coughs spreading is also high.

7. Your waking time is influenced by the earliest riser in the group.

8. The ratio of sinks/WC to guests is generally 1:5.

We opted for a mix of lodgings for this Camino. Do note that some albergues do have double rooms for couples (but bathrooms are probably shared).

The walk out of Zubiri passed a magnesium mine, after which we were in the countryside. However, unlike previous days, the traffic noise from the main road was still discernible.

We passed by a number of small villages, some seemed to have beds for pilgrims who cannot find lodging during the peak season in Zubiri. We didn’t find any cafe open except for a make shift one (more later, as this was about 6 km away from Pamplona).

Your Camino should start seeping into you around now. A routine is beginning to form. You have disconnected from cable news. Your mind is getting used to not being innundated for long stretches of hours. Cutting mental-stuff out, ala Marie Kondo, is very liberating.

Hopefully, your internal clock is slowing down too. If you are rushing to secure the best available bed, perhaps book ahead and see if that doesn’t change how you journey that day.

You start noticing things.

Eagle-Eye Joon strikes again. I missed seeing this as I passed by. This is the first time in my life seeing this!

We both are getting better physically as the days progress.

As we reached Zuriain, we noticed many road cyclists. In fact, one cyclist was going up an uphill stretch twice as we walked down! Spain’s most famous cyclist, Miguel Indurain trained here to win his five Tour de France titles.

Here is a group of 4 cyclists going up an inclined slope of 40-45 degrees!

Our welcome into the Basque country!

We came across a make shift cafe. A man had set up some offerings in the ruins of some structure. We had wanted some real coffee since leaving the albergue in the morning, so, his offering met our needs. There were fruits, bars, souvenirs etc. The prices were up to us as he was raising money for charity! His name is Daniel, and he was a guide for Martin Sheen during the movie, The Way. Martin walked only a fraction.

Joon with Daniel, who is pictured with Martin Sheen in the poster, as part of the making of The Way.

The bridge into Villava, very beautiful setting (color temp set wrongly, to be fixed post Camino! You do not need to make an appointment with your optician).

We found a hole-in-wall eatery for lunch in Burlada, outskirts of Pamplona. I had a kebab sandwich, Joon had an ensalada. All for Euro 7.50.

Lots of stuff in a pita bread. I had to eat some of it with my fork before I could attempt to eat like a sandwich!

How the hole-in-wall looked from the entrance door.

Some good things in life require one to go where the crowds do not!

The oldest and most important bridge into Pamplona center, Puente de la Magdalena, built in the 11th century.

Restaurants offer their dinner menu from 8pm. So, we had a tapas type meal as we wanted to sleep early at an apartment booked via Airbnb.

Author: Ben & Joon

Residents in the great Pacific North West. Living life as it happens, learning our purpose and trail blazing our own paths. Namaste.

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