Leaving Pamplona early and my feet ache. My calves ache, and my thighs ache. Oh my shoulders ache too. I’m just a walking ache. Three of my fingers don’t ache but that’s all. Unsurprising I suppose, I’ve walked about 70 km in 3 days. Ten metres on the flat. The rest on hills. Who knew the Pyranees would be hilly. I should have paid more attention in Geography class.
The highlight of the day was the view from Alto de Pedron. The metal sculpture up there was pretty good too. The first part of the climb was tough as I had skipped breakfast. Well accidentally really. I see a cafe and think, nah, get to the next one. Then there’s a gap with nothing for miles. There was nothing in the tank when, half way up I got breakfast at a small village bar. I immediately went into the shop next door for second breakfast, an enormous muffin and coffee part two.
The downhill from the sculpture wasn’t too bad and I soon rolled into Puente la Reina. Translation; the Queen’s bridge. Obviously where the royal ladies come for their dental work. The first albergue, Jakue was playing loud Spanish pop music from a TV in the garden. Horrible music. The type I don’t like. The type no one likes. I kept going. There was a hotel attached to the albergue. Same name. Suddenly I needed to pee so I ordered a beer in the bar and used the facilities. I see Kit and Audrey (California) and the Carrolls (UK) checking in. To the hotel part not the albergue. Amy (also California) was at the bar. She bought me another beer after which I couldn’t be bothered going any further, and decided to see if the albergue had a bed.
Before we got down to business I asked the handsome young receptionist if the TV had other music channels. Y’know the channels that don’t play this euro crap. He seemed puzzled but hit the remote and we got a bit of Green Day. That’ll work, I’ll have a bed then.
A lucky set of circs for me because this albergue is right up there. Four to a room (only two in mine, nice showers, even an air conditioned lounge. My roomie, Aden from Barcelona was on his 4th Camino. He stayed here before and bigged up the food in the hotel restaurant. I also spotted Tom (Chicago) in the beer garden so decided I wasn’t going off site.
After a few drinks, well a lot of drinks if I’m honest, we were last in the restaurant even though there was ninety minutes before closing. It was a buffet. The starters were depleted but we did ok. When we went for our main course there was a choice of beef stew or… nothing. This is a buffet. Beef stew, that’s it. One choice is not a buffet. In fact one choice isn’t even a choice. Guess what we had for dinner. The stew was delicious and the wine was serve yourself. So we did. The waitress had to refill the jug a couple of times but that’s her job right.
After a good nights sleep I hit the road as it got light. I walked through the town. Just a typical small Spanish town with the usual businesses and the usual fifty or so churches. The walking today seemed a bit easier. The terrain was less hilly but also I’m getting stronger. Don’t remember much about the route. I probably had a beer and a sandwich and I probably swore a lot. And it was probably hot.
Anyway I got to Estella about 2.00. I asked for a recommendation at the tourist information. I had to bang on a bit about it because although they can give you maps and lists, they’re not allowed to favour one establishment over another. Tenacity and a vulnerable look usually works as it did here.
Her recco was spot on. I am doing brilliant with albergues up to now. I hit a bar opposite and was soon joined by Gary and his girlfriend from County Wicklow in Ireland. Did we have a drink? Of course, I just told you they’re Irish. After increasing the bar takings beyond the wildest dreams of the proprietor, we went our separate ways for dinner. Me to an Italian restaurant I had seen on the way in, and the Irish couple to… don’t care.
The chef was smoking on a bench outside the restaurant. I sat next to him.’
‘Food good here?’ I asked
‘Very good food. The best,’ answered the chef.
‘Authentic? I continued
‘Si, of course,’ said the chef.
‘Are you Italian?’ I raised an eyebrow.
‘Yes. I’m from Puglia,’ was the answer.
‘Ok, I’m gonna try it then,’ I said and went inside after guaranteeing myself a good dinner.
It was good too.
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