Camino de Santiago Day 4:
Pamplona to Puente la Reina
It was going to be a hot one.
At least that’s what we’d heard (and seen), so we set an intention to get our earliest yet start.
Let’s try for walking by 7, we said before bed.
We almost made it. It was 7:24 when we walked out of the gates.
Because of our early start we left Pamplona with a sea of pilgrims.
It can be like a parade first thing in the morning, but soon the gaps between everyone grow and you are spread far apart.
The sun was hot early so we were glad for the early start. There was shade on the path where you knew the sun would be scorching later.
We met a few new pilgrims on the way in the morning, people we hadn’t seen yet because they had all been starting much earlier than us.
We walked up a long, gradual hill in the sun, still finding our breakfast blackberries along the way. After a while, we could see Pamplona far in the distance behind us.
The path leveled out for a while and then began to climb steadily again.
I kept stopping to look behind us as we climbed towards the windmills on the top.
I felt more tired than I had the previous days. Maybe the cumulative days of walking were catching up to me, or maybe it was the sun. But I was moving slow up the hill.
We met a girl near the top from Avila, so we walked the rest of the way with her and heard a bit about her walks. She’s been walking different parts of the Camino since she was small.
It always seems to make the time pass quicker when you meet someone as you’re walking.
Then all of a sudden, you’re further along than you realize.
At the top of the hill is a fun sculpture of pilgrims. And the breeze once we crested was glorious.
We could see that it was all downhill for a long way.
We met some other folks on our way down and into the next town, so we stopped for coffee and food with everyone we were walking with.
I figured out how to ask for iced coffee in Spanish which was a big win for two sweaty pilgrims. And we had our tortilla with vegetables plus an apple cake.
Now that the hills were behind us, everyone was super cheerful. It was a jovial stop for sure.
Anna later starting writing down names because we were starting to forget folks we’d met.
For sure all the people make the Camino the special trail that it is. People from everywhere and people of all ages. We’ve seen families and couples and many folks on their own.
After our coffees, we just had about 6 miles left. It was still hot but pretty even the rest of the way, so we made pretty good time. I had more energy after having food for sure.
We reached Puente la Reina at 2pm which was our earliest arrival so far.
It was really nice to have more time in the town. We explored, found some lunch, and rested in a garden with other pilgrims.
Anna even did a little shopping. We each brought one thing to wear for hiking in the heat and one thing for colder weather.
Since it’s been warm every day so far, Anna was ready for a new set of clothes for the warm days.
Also now she won’t have to put her clothes on while they are still wet in the morning.
We wash our clothes out every afternoon in the shower and then hang them up to dry. Some days they seem to dry better than others, so some mornings we have to put them on wet.
Then thirty minutes into walking I’m not sure what is sweat and what is wet from the night before.
An hour later it doesn’t really matter anymore.
There are outdoor shops in many of the towns though so it’s easy to pick up something you didn’t bring along or that you wish you had once you got here.
In general it seems to me like almost everyone is carrying more than they need, so I much prefer to bring less and then adjust as you go.
I’m in my smallest pack and am still trying to decide what I could eliminate and send home with Anna.
There were gorgeous tomatoes all over town so we were excited to find some local tomatoes to have with our celebration beers.
Puente la Reina means ‘the queen’s bridge,’ so we went to see the medieval bridge that Queen Muniadona, wife of King Sancho III had built so that pilgrims could pass safely over the Arga River.
We met several folks on the bridge taking pictures. Anna talked a long time to a couple from Boston who were biking the Camino while I met a French couple who were having their annual vacation in the area. They told me all the special things I should not miss about the towns we are passing through.
I made a few notes for later and then we headed back to rest until the pilgrim’s dinner was served at our albergue.
We got to sit with a couple from Mexico that we had already met several time and who are now our best friends.
We had a great time laughing and talking about the day.
I could hardly hold my eyes open when we got back to our room. I think I fell asleep before we turned out the lights.