Rest day in Pamplona

A wonderful statue

It was fun to just hang out in a beautiful town. I got my Spanish SIM card sorted for my phone, bought a new poncho since I tore my old one struggling through the bushes and went to the cathedral. I was resting my knee too. I checked in to the same hostel- the converted church. It is run by a charity that supports people withCerebral Palsy. I like the air, the spirit in here. Of course I lost my first Camino companions with whom I started but I will have dinner tonight with a nice lady from Florida who managed to get a spectacular blister that held her back a bit too. Here are some pics of the interior of the spectacular cathedral. At the tomb of the king and queen I note her faithful hounds at her feet and …. A lion at his!

Alabaster king and queen

Zubiri to Pamplona

It was better, much better than the day before. Not having anything to eat or drink until 11 am did not help but, boy did that spinach tortilla taste good when I finally got it. I was lucky go get a bed at one of the biggest albergues in Plampona and have decided to stay an extra day. I feel there is a lot to see here plus I want to get my telephone situation worked out. Had dinner with my Irish friends

In Basque Country
Many pretty sights in the villages

Today was the hardest

Crossing the River
On the bridge that cures rabies

Today it poured rain and I walked 22km over hill and dale and over a slippery bed of rocks. Horror! But I had 2 Irish angels who helped me by going fast and making jokes. We are in Zubiri now and off to Pamplona tomorrow. The lady who keeps the hotel put on her mask and kissed and hugged me. I have a double bed in a private room. Bliss!

Granny went over the mountain

Ah, the Camino Frances doesn’t let you in that easily. To set off in pouring rain is challenging. Oh well, only 8 km you think but that’s a lot of rain! The pass over the Mountains from France to Spain is split into two days for some modern pilgrims. Others do the whole 27 km in one day! Too much for me so I was happy to sleep at the fabled Orisson lodging. The bonus was that the second day of the trek was brilliantly sunny and the views were magnificent. Now just waking at Roncesvalles with no idea where I will sleep tonight. The Camino provides they say. We will see.

French rain
Spanish sim

Up the mountain we go

From the citadel

Got poles and snacks for the assault on the mountain today. Rain is forecast but the day after should be very good. Walking with others so we encourage each other. Met a nice Yorkshireman walking for a sick child. Conversation at the dinner table was eclectic..,French,English,Spanish, Yorkshire and bewildered sign language for 2 unilingual Chinese pilgrims. Time to get up. and walk!

A town of hopes and dreams

St Jean Pied de Port has seen so many souls set off on the old old pilgrimage route known as the Camino. I arrived by train, passing through tiny mountain villages with the train track hugging a narrow rushing river. The train was full of backpacks and speculation about the weather. Next to me a charming Danish couple, veterans of three caminos told me they were going the alternative route around the mountain rather than risk the climb in the bad weather forecast for the next day . I am starting off a day later so, I have not yet had to decide what to do. First example of the humility the Camino demands, for months I have dreamed of going over the famous Napoleon route but perhaps it will not be possible, At supper in.the gîte where I am staying for two nights I met other pilgrims, It was interesting to see how well or ill prepared they were. I sat at the “ American” table. How this damned Covid has coloured our attitudes. When one gentleman told us he was from Florida I was uneasy until he expressed his very pro vaccination views. On réflexion I wonder if a right-wing anti-Vaxxer would embark on the Camino. It seems unlikely The town is very hilly and the streets too narrow for cars to pass. My first visit today will be to the church and to the pilgrim’s office where I will get maps, advice and the first stamp in my long fold-out passport. I hope to fill it and that the last stamp will be that of the cathedral of Santiago, a hope to accomplish a dream. This is a common dream in this little ancient town. There are other dreams and hopes -of liberation from sorrow, of thanks for health restored, of wonder at the beauty of the world. The little town is steeped in dreams and hopes. Today is my day to discover them.

A town of hopes and dreams

     St Jean Pied de Port has seen so many souls set off on the old old pilgrimage route known as the Camino. I arrived by train, passing through tiny mountain villages with the train track hugging a narrow rushing river. The train was full of backpacks and speculation about the weather. Next to me a charming Danish couple, veterans of three caminos told me they were going the alternative route around the mountain rather than risk the climb in the bad weather forecast for the next day . I am starting off a day later so, I have not yet had to decide what to do. First example of the humility the Camino demands, for months I have dreamed of going over the famous Napoleon route but perhaps it will not be possible, At supper in.the gîte where I am staying for two nights I met other pilgrims, It was interesting to see how well or ill prepared they were. I sat at the “ American” table. How this damned Covid has coloured our attitudes. When one gentleman told us he was from Florida I was uneasy until he expressed his very pro vaccination views. On réflexion I wonder if a right-wing anti-Vaxxer would embark on the Camino. It seems unlikely The town is very hilly and the streets too narrow for cars to pass. My first visit today will be to the church and to the pilgrim’s office where I will get maps, advice and the first stamp in my long fold-out passport. I hope to fill it and that the last stamp will be that of the cathedral of Santiago, a hope to accomplish a dream. This is a common dream in this little ancient town. There are other dreams and hopes -of liberation from sorrow, of thanks for health restored, of wonder at the beauty of the world. The little town is steeped in dreams and hopes. Today is my day to discover them.

First Day

At Montreal airport
Classic Paris street scene

My flight was uneventful although the scene in Montreal was pretty chaotic. Many people seemed to be leaving town with all their worldly possessions . I should have thought more carefully about those zip off shirts/ pants though. As if my artificial hip wasn’t enough for the scanner to catch. My entry into France was pretty surprising in that I was subject to no Covid checks at all. My carefully amassed documents and phone scan and two forms filled out on the plane never left my bag. I had applied for a French equivalent of our Quebec vaccination pass. In spite of submitting many documents I never got it but now I wonder how much it is being used? It was a beautiful sunny day here and I went out for a walk in the neighborhood. However after several restless nights a nap was more important. Many thanks to kind Yasmina for her hospitality. tomorrow I’ll take the train down to St Jean Pied de Port. Two sleeps there and then …..up the mountain we go!

Packing

The backpack

In eight days I will start a journey that has been a long time in the planning. I am a little bit excited, a little bit scared and a big bit curious. I wonder what is coming to me on this famous Camino de Santiago. One thing I have already learned is how to discard things I thought were essential. There simply isn’t room. My back simply can’t carry them, so the weeklong task of packing and unpacking begins. Burn Camino, Peligrina