Dear Christine and Renee.

FINALLY I have the bandwidth to upload pictures! We arrived in Pamplona this morning after a relatively short walk. Here is the recap of our last few days:

June 12th. We left the Monastery at Roncesvalles walking in a continuation of the cold, rain, and fog we “enjoyed” the previous two days. Into the morning the sky began to clear and the sun made its presence and warmth intermittently known. It was a good hike, mostly downhill into Zubiri. In the interest of brevity and an economy of time I will caption pictures where appropriate.

Leaving Roncesvalles
The original 12th century church at Roncesvalles
The iconic picture EVERYONE poses for.
The second food truck we have encountered
A monument to a pilgrim who died on the Camino
A happy Britton

June 13th. Pursuing a recommendation from our UK friend, Kate Hacket, we decided to stop short of a full hiking stage which would have taken us to Pamplona. The detour took us to the ancient church (1100’s) of San Esteban, and the Albergue Zabaldika which is run by Sisters of the Sacred Heart. There is only room for 12, and it is first come first served, no reservations permitted. We were a bit concerned that there would be “no room at the inn”. Our luck held and there were only 8, including us.

There is no “price” as the Sisters offer their hospitality, which includes spotless dormitory accommodations, dinner, a moving prayer/contemplation service, and breakfast in return for a donation. Only the hardest heart or thinnest purse would be less than generous. Oh yes, we also got to climb the church tower and ring one of the oldest bells on the Camino. This was a marvelous experience for Britton and me. I miss the friends that we met and the kindness of the Sisters who cared for us. The prayer service was especially emotional as a dear friend of a German Peregrino had died earlier that day. Again, pictures follow:

Leaving Zubiri
A 13th century church
A group of American students on a 3 week (non-Camino) trip
A rural village and cafe
San Esteban Church and the adjacent Zabaldika Alberge
Climbing the bell tower
Britton rings the bell

Today, June 14th. The sun was shining and for the first time for us on this journey the thermometer topped 80°. (of course that’s Fahrenheit!) We had an easy walk into Pamplona, a city of over 200,000, known for its association with Ernest Hemingway and the Running of the Bulls. A couple of miles of our hike less pleasantly passed through an industrial area and suburbs before reaching the old city center. Britton voiced, “l miss the countryside!”

Breakfast at Zabaldika
Pamplona in the distance
We have entered the outskirts of Pamplona

Britton (and I!) were ready for some privacy in our sleeping and bathroom accommodations. I looked for room availability in any nearby small pension or simple hotel, but struck out as they were all booked. It’s Friday. We adjourned to a small outdoor café to consider our options. The café was located in front of a four-star hotel and I thought, “What the heck, there’s no harm in checking.” They had a room in the price at €110 was not unreasonable for the city center.

Our own PRIVATE bathroom

It is courtesy of their excellent Wi-Fi that I am able to present this post and pictures. I also was able to reserve bookings for the next three nights which alleviates some stress. In the rural areas a private room for the two of us is about €50, including breakfast. These pictures from today include an afternoon visit to the Cathedral and Plaza del Castillo:

Pamplona Cathedral
Archaeological Excavations beneath the Cathedral. 2000 year old Roman artifacts 
The Plaza del Castillo

Ours is an evolving experience. It has occurred to me that I am a participant in two Caminos: One Camino takes us on foot to Santiago, the other “Camino” molds an enduring relationship between a grandfather and a grandson. Like a picture frame that draws the eye and brings focus to the painting it holds, the Camino de Santiago frames what is the more important journey for me, my time with Britton.

Love to you both, Peace and… Buen Camino. Dad.

Written at Pamplona, the 14th of June.

8 thoughts on “Catching Up, Pamplona

  1. Pam Roberts says:

    You certainly have your challenges and it seems things work for the best. Lot of country to see, but impressive what you have seen so far. Continue enjoying your time with Britton.

  2. Susan B Ross says:

    Oh Pete! This message brought tears to my eyes! What a privilege for me to share your experience! Thank you! I am acquainted with a couple in our strata who recently returned from a short Santiago adventure. If they show an interest in your story, do I have your permission to share with them?

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