The Stage in Profile (day 2)
At 7.15am, I set out from Roncesvalles with Justin who I sat next to at dinner the night before. Justin had travelled a lot the previous months, had spend time in Asia and had a liking to Japan, where he had walked a 1400+ km pilgrimage called “The Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage”. We found some breakfast before heading on the road for a while. We caught up with Kristina who was walking with Daniela from Germany.
The terrain was flat, but descending consistently due to starting in 962m altitude, so it was a pleasure compared to yesterday – from now it was all going to be easier. Daniela and I began talking and we also seemed to have a slightly faster pace than Kristina and Justin. We also talked as steady as we walked. Daniela is an architect in Munich, she was easy to talk to and we got around an array of subjects. Daniela did not seem to have a clear reason to be here, when we got to the obligatory “why are you walking The Camino-question”, other than getting away from it all for a while.
Hemingway was famous in and around Pamplona and on the way there, his name among other things were encountered, like the billboard below.
It was still early in the morning and the mix with altitude created thick fog, but the sun came and the views gradually became better and better as the fog was taken away. The landscape that we flowed through was small rivers and beautiful forest paths, where you at times could look out over valleys and see mountains in the horizon.
I love this quote from Christopher McCandless; “happiness is only real when shared”. I believe that ANYTHING is pretty much only real when shared and when walking with Daniela today, it was nice to share the beauty we saw – the joy simply grows because of it.
During today the joy in me increased, I was so grateful and happy that I was here, walking this historic path where millions had been before me. There was so many reminders, that all pilgrims were together in this from the pilgrims from 100s of years ago and the ones that had just passed you or were behind you. Things that had been written, rocks stacked by passing pilgrims on the indicator-posts and the consistent encounter with lonely graveyards from pilgrims who had passed away on their journey – it was special and the vibe was consistently there.
A little uphill climb through a forest began and I created some distance to Daniela. It was soon desired to have a break and a beautiful sight it was when a couple of tables and a concession stand on wheels was seen on the left across the road coming out of the forest. I put down my pack and on my right a tall guy with a purple cap said that if you bought something you could get a stamp that not many would get. We had “ The Camino-conversation starter” and Gary, from Minnesota answered, that he was here to simply prove that even though he was 67 he could do this!
He left fairly quickly – Buen Camino! – and just then, Daniela came out of the woods. I did not want to sit for too long, but she wanted to relax, so I continued. In the back of my mind, I wanted to catch up to Gary and did. We began talking and it was easy and comfortable – he told me about his life as a veteran, his 10 years studying to receive two diplomas equivalent to two PhD’s and his 20+ years in the computer industry. He then came to a point, which became a key insight that would develop during my own Camino. He said: “The two most important things in life is the ability to change and adapt.” That stuck with me.
We kept the same pace, I liked the conversation and Gary´s kind and outgoing personality, and we helped each other get to Zubiri and stopped at the first and best albergue. After the usual and a shower, some writing and relaxation, I later joined dinner at another albergue, that had some familiar faces: Nick from Canada, Justin and Irene from the first day. A 5-course meal and an inspiring conversation with Irene, made it a great finish of the 2nd day. Irene was from Belgium and was very skilled in languages, had several degrees and had a very organic way at looking at life – impressing to say the least!
A great day on The Camino with sun and enjoyable conversations bonding with other pilgrims and familiar faces came to a close. Tomorrow awaited Pamplona, the aura of Hemingway and the San Fermin bull-run.
Reflections and Insight of The Day
I more than once expressed my happiness of being on The Road today. I at the same time thought about the rock I had with me, the one I carried on the left side of my strap on the backpack. The burden it resembled was like this rock, sitting in my stomach as a dense and heavy emotion of pain and suppression of myself. This stomach-stuff had been there for almost three years and another hope was that I could finally let it go on this ourney.
Insight of the Day: “Awareness of change and the ability to adapt to that change can lead to a natural mental flexibility and allow life to live you.”
– Thanks to Gary for the insight that I developed into the sentence above.
The Stage in Profile (Day 3) – Zubiri – Pamplona = 25,5km (April 10th)
I left Zubiri 6.30 in the darkness with the goal in mind to arrive in Pamplona early to experience the place. I wanted to check out where they do the bull-run and get a feel for this guy Hemingway. There is nothing like walking in the darkness and gradually see the landscape as the sun rises – that is worth waking up to!
Today I had a little over 25km and I walked it alone. I had a steady pace and I did not have much more in mind than to get to Pamplona. I also had Casa Paderborn in the back of my mind – the albergue Claus had told me about. The day was enjoyed by listening to some tunes early on, enjoying the ever beautiful scenery while the sun came up, but today some unpleasant came along also. My left shin began to hurt and be quite uncomfortable – shin splints had developed. Due to my slight crooked pelvis, I believed it had to be the reason why. Because of this my right leg is just a tiny bit shorter than my left, which means that the left carries more weight. I had thought about that it could be a possible problem prior to starting The Camino and now it was here. All I could do was massage it on my more frequent breaks and that helped a bit.
I was getting closer to Pamplona or Iruña as the name is in Basque… and through the shin-splint aggravation I learned something, that was of value later on the pilgrimage. I found out: 1. You can´t be sure that the village you see in the horizon is the one you will end up in. 2nd when you walk into a bigger city the walk for a pilgrim can be VERY long, due to the distance all the way to the middle of the city as well as the hard pavement. A mix of it all and getting close to 20 km of walking plays with your mind a bit.
I saw a larger village out on the right of the plateau I was on and assumed it was Pamplona. It wasn’t and first I got to a bridge and the village that was Puente de la Magdalena, but thought I must be close now. The picture below is the bridge I crossed into this village, a beautiful place for another break.
After my first Spanish pastry I got to a real nice avenue with pink leaved trees as far as the eye could see. The yellow arrows and sea shells that indicate if you were walking the right way is all over the route and many of the cities you enter have made their own unique symbol for pilgrims to follow. All the way down the avenue and the streets towards Pamplona were metal plates with engraved symbols bolted into the side walk for 2-3 km.
Finally Pamplona was near, the city sign welcomed me and I was happy to be close now and it was time for me not to have a back pack on anymore and take the pressure of my left shin. It was now about finding the albergue Casa Paderborn Claus had told me about. He had written in my note book, that I had to cross the river Rio Arga over Magdalena Bridge and the go left. I did and saw that there was an albergue just a few hundred meters left, right in front of Pamplona´s walls.
I was not sure about if this was the one, but was done walking for the day and wanted rest. I got to the albergue and right when I got there, I saw Claus walking towards me – what a nice surprise that was and obviously it was here!
The albergue first opened at 1pm and I had arrived just around 12.30. It was nice to sit down and when I got a top bunk, it was a quick shower, put my feet up to relax and write.
Here, I met the first fellow Danish viking Steffen, who would become an important person on my trip. He had started a day later than me, but had walked 50km today, tough dude! – he even did it with a 60+ year old man, what does that tell you!? :-O
After a couple of hours of rest, I was ready to discover Pamplona and walked around the castle like exterior, as that was what it was back in the day. Pamplona was inside the walls here and quite a nice place with small streets joining each other in a spaghetti like fashion.
When entering I wanted to find where they run with the bulls and walk the distance, the courage’s runners and angry bulls run after.
“Moments before the start, the runners sing to San Fermin three times to ask for his blessing and protection.”
San Fermin is a week long festival and the bull-run is happening one time every day for that week. The runners prepares all year by running, getting in shape and so on for this. Can you imagine running in front of at least 10 bulls???
I get seriously scared just by imagining that it is me… phew!!
I walked and took in this beautiful town, which it was, with its big square in the middle and further on seeing one of the more spectacular sculptures I have ever seen! – and in addtion, there was a special occasion happening, that made me step up to the plate and take my first and only ever bull-run – YIKES!!!!!!
Fortunately, it was just to have some fun and Irene who I met at the square was my great photographer! But check out the sculpture below – marvelous work!
I met Irene earlier as I was walking the streets, she had a bite to eat with Kristina, who were both having some problems with their long extremities. I joined them and agreed to meet up with them tonight at the square with some of the other pilgrims.
This was also here, that I saw Gary again and befriended a lot of new pilgrim-faces and we had some pincho´s and wine at customary Spanish tapas bar. It was a fun evening, a lot of great conversation, laughs and enjoyment of being where we all were.
After our pinchos, Gary and me was going to hunt down some ice cream and we were successful and enjoyed it at the square with Kristina and Irene.
The only thing, that I had yet to experience in Pamplona was to be in the “Hemingway-cafe” where there is a statue of him. It was only open on the weekends, so Pamplona will be on the radar again sometime.
Another fantastic day was about to end, and I had to be a little quick because the albergue would close at 10.30. I made it just in time and I was back when all were a sleep and quietly got ready for bed and rest up for tomorrow…
Ahhh… the life of a pilgrim…
Quote of the day: “The Spartans got their shield, the Samurais their sword and pilgrims, they got their backpack.”
Next blog is coming up within a week to 10 days!
Please SIGN UP up to my newsletter Here! – To follow the blogging of The Camino experience and get the blogs immediately after I post it!
Visit my Website: www.Journey-Navigator.com
Join my email list HERE!