Camino Day 3 - Zubiri to Pamplona - 13.4 miles
The alarm went off at 6:00 and we were ready.
Determined to make today a better day, I stayed up last night sitting beside the coin op laundry washing everything we had and changing out the newspaper in our boots to dry them out. So when we got up this morning, we had clean, warm clothes and dirty, dry boots. Perfect.
We left the albergue and stopped at a cafe nearby for a breakfast of tortilla de patatas rellena de jamón y queso (Google it and drool) and made our way out of town. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and all together it was a truly fun day. No rain, no slip sliding down wet rocky hills, just nice, steady, Basque splendor for 13.4 miles. Glorious.
You would be surprised how many different environments you can get through on foot in a day. We started in the foothills of the Pyrenees, then out into the Spanish countryside, meandering through villages and farmsteads, following the river south west out of the mountains. Climbing steeply up and out of the river valley, we made our way onto a phenomenal stretch of the Camino no wider than a goat track, heavy brush and a rock face on our right, a sheer drop populated only by thorny scrub on the left, a combination of factors resulting in a yawning gap filled with unimaginably fantastical vistas, overloading the senses in a euphorically surreal display of nature's beauty.
Fifteen minutes later, we had come back down and rejoining the river, suddenly rounded a corner and stumbled into a bustling city, our first truly urban experience in Spain. Making our way through it's busy, yet still blatantly Spanish streets, we found ourselves at the foot of a massive stone edifice. A fort, centuries old, dominated our entire field of view. Following the road leading up to the gate, we realized (with a flutter of my inner child's heart) it was actually a drawbridge. We stepped over it in wonder, traversing the moat (flutter), passing under the portcullis and the murder holes (double flutter) and entering the spectacular city of Pamplona.
The Basque city is sprawling and magnificent, full of life and proud culture, food and wine, dancing and rebelliousness. Naturally, I'm in love with it and will absolutely return for the infamous Running of the Bulls.
We'll be sad to leave tomorrow, but it's on to Puenta la Reina, 14.8 miles away. Fair weather is in the forecast which is good because right in the middle of the hike is a 5 km stretch consisting of a 300m climb up the final peak in the Pyrenees followed by the descent down the opposite side. Bring it on.