Up and out early, as we head for another big city, Burgos.
Peculiar weather. There’s mist in the air in places, and clear skies elsewhere. Makes for a particularly beautiful morning.
I have so many gorgeous pictures of this landscape that I struggle to choose…
Anyway, we press on, past a rave going on in a tiny village. A thoroughly surreal scene of disco balls, thumping music and tranquil countryside at 7:30am on a Sunday.
We get to Espinosa del Camino and find a terrific cafe.
We pass through more perfect landscapes….
And then it all goes a bit wrong. A few days ago I tripped on a rock and went over on my left ankle. It was sore, but I do this sort of thing quite a lot and I can usually just walk through it. Today, I was discussing the education system of Northern Ireland with a fellow peregrino, like you do, and I took another stumble on a steep downhill path, and OUCH!
As it happened, post taking that video, I phoned up some friends of ours, Evelin and Daniel. They used to live in Crieff, back home in Scotland, but now live in Burgos, all of 10km or so from this bus stop. Daniel came and picked us up and whisked us off to their house (when you get in a car after 11 days of walking pace it all seems very fast).
My ankle is not happy.
Evelin knows of a good physio in Burgos, so first thing tomorrow morning we shall phone them up and see if I can get an appointment and some professional advice on the wisdom of continuing.
Most folks on the Camino are recognizably ‘pilgrim’. We all share specialist footwear and quality backpacks and we wear ‘technical’ clothing (made of quick drying synthetic material). But, every now and then, you see someone who looks very different.
Yesterday, after we had checked in to the donativo in Logrono a young very English chap arrived – think Hugh Grant in ‘Notting Hill’. He was wearing a tweed jacket and normal street shoes and didn’t seem to be carrying much luggage. He was sitting next to the hospitalero desk and had the ‘thousand yard stare‘. I could hear the hospitaleros discuss what to do with him. He seem so detached.
After the communal dinner that he did not attend, and the service (ditto), we went back up to the dormitory around 9:45pm. The tweed jacket-ed peregrino walked in, lay down on his mat, with no sleeping sheet or change of clothing, shut his eyes and went straight to sleep, still wearing his tweed jacket.
After 10 mins or so he started full-on no-nonsense snoring. Two Italians, who had mats next to him, moved over to the other side of the room. That wasn’t nearly far enough so they gathered round him and had a discussion about Plan B. They shook him gently. No effect. They conferred again between themselves, did an Italian shrug of the shoulders and gave up. We all settled in for a long night.
To be fair, it wasn’t just the snoring Hugh Grant that was making a noise. All the windows were open and the street sounds of Logrono wafted in on the breeze and added to the general din.
I have many hours of BBC stuff on my iPad so I fired up a ‘Charles Paris‘ mystery and put in my headphones. A little light murdering should help pass the time. After a few hours of that, I turned to my 8 hour recording of white noise. The idea is to turn it up loud enough to mask the external racket. It must have worked because I found myself waking up at 5:30 with the rest of the peregrinos. Hugh Grant was still fast asleep. And silent. Damn him.
Anyway….. The snorers had to get to us eventually.
The route out of Logrono is quite tricky in the dark. Flocks of peregrinos would perform a kind of murmeration, like starlings, and move as a fluid beast through the city. All getting lost, and then all finding the path again.
Logrono is a big town and it took some time to get out, above the city.
We pass a toro advertising hoarding on a hilltop (not quite sure what was being advertised…) as the Camino trail followed the road.
Eventually we head into wine country.
It’s getting hot. The trail follows the road, unfortunately.
I indulge in a small amount of theft
We approach Najera, whicch is a much more industrial town than I remember.
We arrive, Jonathan is first, and he discovers than the municipal albergue is shut. Something to do with a water or a plumbing issue. Our Spanish is too poor to tell.
We settle on a cheap (EUR10) place whose name I have already forgotten. It’s busy and hot. But we’re in good time and all get beds. We do the clean up routine and either collapse on our beds for a sleep or go for a wander. I elect the latter and find a cafe down by the river where I eat a salad (healthy!) and some patatas bravas (basically chips in a chili mayo sauce – not so healthy). Lovely.
We’d booked slots for the communal evening meal in the albergue. Us veggies were very well taken care of.
Life is simple and we make our own entertainment. I was having an in-depth discussion with a couple from Montreal about the independence movements in Quebec and in Scotland when a sing-song broke out at the other end of the table…
All good fun. Off to bed. Snoring was a gentle 3/10.
We’re doing an extra-long day, to make up for being out-of-sync with the guide book. It’s 21.9km, according to Brierly, from Estella to Los Arcos and we’re still in Villatuerte, some 3.9km short of Estella.
Nice albergue, good sleep, proper beds. Spiffy.
We come across the wine fountain in Ayegui, which, for once, is actually running. A number of Brits are living up to the national stereotype and downing red wine at 6:30am with considerable enthusiasm.
Then we come across the metalworker, who, thankfully, is open this early. I buy another 5EUR Camino shell – I shall write more on this later…
On through Azqueta… (with breakfast)
A progress report – note I didn’t get the bus…
The path is in quite bad shape. And the sky is grey and cloudy. I don’t think it’ll rain.
We are entering wine country…
I roll into Los Arcos around noon.
It’s a bit of a scrappy town but it does have a splendid town square and church. We head for the municipal albergue, the Isaac Santiago, pay our EUR8 for a bed for the night and clean up. The sun is shining and the washing will definitely dry this time…
As I said in the video, Llew got the bus today and is thinking of going home. His health issues are getting to him. He’s trying to sort out his EasyJet flights and it is causing more pain than his ailments.
We head to the marvellous town square and eat pasta and salad instead.
We visit the extraordinarily ornate church – this town has 1200 inhabitants and one of the most ornate churches we’ve seen yet.
Some of it is oddly camp. Check the organ pipes in this video…
We basically muck around all afternoon. More food in the square and an early-ish bed. Ready for the long day (28km) tomorrow….
All you need to know is that it rained. And rained. 146 litres per metre square, says the local paper. I make that near enough 6″ of rain in old money. And most of it fell on me, I am quite convinced.
I gather that the storm had a name (‘Mary’?) and made the international news.
We left Zubiri bright and early
We don’t get too far before the rain starts. Around Illaritz it really starts poring down. We put on our rain gear, and our backpack covers and keep going. We get to a cafe in Zuriain and hunker down to wait it out. Then this happens…
This is inside the cafe. Water is pouring over every surface, including those with electric outlets. Some British wit makes a comment about needing to report this to health and safety.
Throughout all this the staff are supremely indifferent and get on with the important business of making excellent zucchini and spinach tortilla.
We arrive in Arre where we had booked into the ancient 12th century albergue. We get there at 12:30 and find it doesn’t open until 3pm. We are soaked and cold. So, we carry on a few hundred yards and find another albergue that will let us have a private room for the four of us for 25EUR each. We gladly take it. We get out of the wet stuff and the others are kind enough to let me shower first. I put my clean clothes on the floor, just outside the shower, and don’t notice until too late that the shower drain was backing up and flooding out the door. So, now my clean clothes were soaked, too. I cobbled together enough clothing to be decent in public and asked the hospitaleros for advice. A splendid chap showed up with drain cleaners, mops and all sortsof things and within 10 mins all was well.
We were knackered…
Soon the dreaded ‘full’ sign went up on the albergue door.
We dry out, but our clothes require more. We find a laundrette and wash and, more importantly, dry all our stuff.
I venture out into the evening and find yet more evidence of Spanish local spirit.
There’s some kind of music festival on. All afternoon kids had been shouting and squealing outside the albergue. Lots of food and wine was being consumed at communal tables. And now we have a music event.
I write this in Arre on Sept 2nd, so we are getting ahead of ourselves. Those of you on the Telegram group will have a decent idea of what we’re up to. Those following the blog, not so much…
Apologies for not being productive! I need decent WiFi and peace and quiet to do this. Both are often available, but not so far on this trip. Today we got completely soaked and I’ve spent the last 5 hours trying to dry everything. I mean literally everything that I own on this trip, including this computer and my camera. My camera got so wet that I’m afraid to turn it on until it’s had a chance to dry out properly. Thus, sadly, the only pics I have are from my iPhone…
An, ahem, difficult Camino day.
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Steve: well, we’re around 2/3 of the way, with 260km to go. If we haven’t got the hang of it now then we never will…
I’m quite pleased with how this 56 year old bag of bones of mine is hanging together. Apart from the perpetual blister-fest, which I consider to be a peely-wally Scotsman-in-the-sun thing as opposed to a Steve-specific thing, my body is holding up fine. My legs are like tree trunks and I haven’t had any muscle pain since the first few days. I’ve had no backpack problems. All is surprisingly well.
Make sure you read your Fitbit correctly. On day 2 or 3 I looked down to check my heart rate and it said 263. Hmm, I thought, and considered if my Will was up to date and wondered if the British Embassy would sort out returning my body. I stood still and waited for the resurrection morn. Then I realised I was actually looking at the step count. We’d only just left the albergue and I hadn’t done much that day. I tapped through to my heart rate which was a quite reasonable 85. I wonder if there have been any Fitbit related coronaries resulting from such misreading?
I don’t think it’s possible for Brits to actually buy appropriate shoes for this sort of heat. All my local outfitters are geared up for the swamp that is Scotland. Goretex in everything. What you need for this walk is a glorified sandal with lots of support in the right places and ventilation everywhere else. Water resistance is the least of your worries.
High tech underpants are unquestionably A Good Thing. The one drawback is that when not walking it would be nice to have something a bit less, how shall we put it?, structural. Pack a pair of knackered old y-fronts if you can. Your gentleman parts will be grateful.
I write this in Bercianos where, based on the performance in the afternoon nap stakes, I predict a night of low to mid Richter scale snoring.
Before I forget, let me tell you a tale of how appearances can be deceptive and how even the most apparently unlikely candidate can raise their game to supersnore levels.
In Los Argos we’d managed to get into a small room with only five beds. There’s three of us and we can all confirm to you and each other than we don’t snore. A fourth shows up, a 20ish Swiss German girl. Should be fine, youngish girls don’t snore (stereotypes abound here, Jen will step in any second now…). Our final resident is a very fit looking 30-something Frenchman. Excellent we think.
Oh but dear reader, we were so very wrong.
Mr Fit Frenchman turned out to be none other than Snorty Jean de Snorty, winner of last years Mr Snorty championship. I’ve never heard such a loud noise coming out of anything alive apart from a cow I once saw in labour.
We were stunned. At one point Hamish jumped down from his top bunk and sat on the floor with his head in his hands (remember, at this point in the trip none of us had managed a good night’s sleep). I feared that Snorty Jean de Snorty would fall victim to some egregious punishment that H had learned in his boarding school days.
But it seemed that H’s loud landing had interrupted Jean de Snort and he was quiet! Quick, get back to bed, shut your eyes, think happy thoughts and get to sleep before the racket starts again. Well, as we all know from the Christmas Eve’s of our childhood, lying still and hoping for sleep never works.
I can’t actually recall if any sleep was had by anyone until, finally, at 4:30 or so Snorty Jean got up, incredibly quietly (I’m sure he didn’t want to disturb us – oh, the irony!) and he was out by 5am. We finally got to sleep. For an hour. At 6am we, the hardened four, the undead, staggered into the daylight and went on our way.
I was there, I saw it, I was in the presence of greatness….
Most peregrinos opt to stay in albergues. These communal unisex dormitories, packed tight with bunk beds, are part of the experience. Yes, you can do the Camino and stay in hotels but it’ll cost a fortune and the purists would argue that you’re missing out on something important.
That said, if you’re sharing a room with 20 people you’ll be extremely lucky if you don’t have at least one snorer (and, before you ask – no, it’s not us). Which, sadly, does not aid a spirit of benevolence towards your fellow pilgrims. By 3am you’d cheerfully kill them all in their sleep. (Which hints at a related question – how come the snorers always fall asleep first?)
Brierley lists the albergues in each town, giving addresses and prices. Also against each albergue are two numbers written like this: 45÷5, which means 45 beds divided into 5 rooms. So, for this example, 9 in a room on average. We’ve taken to assessing albergues on two criteria, firstly cost and secondly, beds-in-room average.
Our theory is there must be some optimum.
So, on average, what percentage of people snore loudly enough to keep others awake? The magnificently named esnoring.com says that 25% of adults are habitual snorers. Which means that in a room of 9 you will have, on average, two.
Basically the maths say that you can’t have community sleeping arrangements without snorers.
Steve: The doc called at 9:30 this morning to tell me that my left foot x-ray is completely normal. So I’ve got inflamed metatarsals but no fractures. Phew…
I got the call whilst sitting in the dentist waiting room having a broken tooth looked at. As Woody Allen once said “As you get older it’s not so much about avoiding disease, it’s more about finding one that you like.”
The contraptions attached to my insoles seem to be working.