Day 1 - Pamplona to Zariquiegui
14.4 kilometers - Slightly over nine miles.
Jackie and I planned to begin Our Camino on Sunday.
But last night, as we ate dinner, we changed those plans.
Rather than taking on a complete day's walk, we decided to hit the trail today with "day packs." We would walk about half the planned first leg, getting our walking legs under us. We then could finish Sunday and make two short days, instead of one long one.
We began in style.
Shortly before noon today, with day packs storing water and snacks, we began the Camino de Santiago.
Friday, at the cathedral in Pamplona, we had received our "Pilgrim's Passport," upon which stamps would memorialize our stops along the route. Or first beautiful stamp came from the cathedral office.
Passports packed, and day packs slung on our backs, we were off.
We walked briskly through the streets of old Pamplona, eventually passing through the University of Navarra, and then began a gentle climb for three hours until finishing our walk high above the city of Pamplona.
And, yes, Jackie found a library-Biblioteca. She was very proud. She loves the Spanish word.
About halfway through our walk we passed through our first village--Cizur Menor. This is a small, but very affluent village located outside the city. We made our first stop at the village's bar, bought water and Diet Coke, then hiked on towards our goal for the day.
From Cizur Menor, the climb eventually became serious. We passed fields of sunflowers--three weeks passed their prime. We were traveling on the remains of the ancient Roman footpath though farm fields and passed streams and even a small and picturesque pond.
It was a tough climb.
Jackie was the leader, though, and she was in the swing of things, pushing us higher and higher up the hills.
Among the beautiful scenes we passed were the remains of a medieval church and fort left in a farm field. We also took a few minutes regathering our strength at the memorial to some earlier Pilgrims who had lost their lives making the same climb we were just completing. We even passed a few snails, who were nearly keeping up with us it seemed.
Our conversation on the way out of town was light for the most part, but we did have a period when we were able to relate to each other what a great blessing this trip was, and how fortunate we were to be able to enjoy this time and how lucky we were to have kids who were doing well, and friends and family whom we love, and we could be so thankful for those who had made it possible for us to take this trip.
Eventually, nearly three and one-half hours after we started, we finished our walk in the tiny village of Zariquiegui--with less than 200 residents and two tiny "bars."
Jackie filled her holder with water at the town fountain and we sank into the plastic chairs, outside a bar, drank water and Coke Zero and smiled a lot. We were pretty proud of our first day on the Camino.
Finishing the drinks, Jim asked the bar proprietor if he would use Jim's Spanish phone to call for a taxi to pick us up and return us to Pamplona for the night--we will taxi back in the morning and finish the walk that we scheduled for Sunday.
Eventually, the prudish, brooding proprietor, Niko, decided Jim's phone wasn't working to his liking and conveyed that "for a price" that he would take us to Pamplona.
The ride with Niko was hot and quiet--he kept his windows closed and there was no air conditioning--although he played an old CD with old Spanish dancehall music on the car's stereo.
He was broodish all the way, until, after depositing us at the Pamplona bullring, three blocks from our hotel, Jim paid him much more than he expected for the ride.
Niko was suddenly Mr. Friendly and Mr. Happy. Niko could smile and he "loved us."
"Buen Camino," he exclaimed as he pulled away.
We were happy to have accomplished our day's goal, but exhausted from the walk.
We napped the rest of the afternoon.
Dinner at Charlie's Table
We have eaten at a few cool spots in Pamplona. Lunch at a very busy tapas bar, a "menu of the dia" at a plaza outdoor cafe, dinner at a One-Star Michelin restaurant, but tonight was the best.
Our waiter at La Tagliatella, tonight, was Herman, an Argentinian. And Herman confided that Charlie (Charlie Sheen that is) ate at this restaurant every night when he visited Pamplona for the Festival of San Fermin in July. The Festival of San Fermin is coincides each year with the famous "Running of the Bulls,"
Well if it was good enough for Charlie, it was sure good enough for Jim and Jackie.
It was actually amazing.
From Beef Carpaccio and Parmesean and Duck Ham Salad, to Ham and Basil Pizza, to beautiful pasta, the meal was so authentic and just great.
We loved it. And after today's climb/walk, we felt like we deserved it.
Tomorrow is Day 2
We will finish the climb to the "Peak of Foregiveness" tomorrow, then move down the hills to our goal for tomorrow, Puente de la Reina.
We should face another three to four hours of walking and more amazing sights.
We love it here, although we are humbled--wearing the same clothes now for several days running, while the Spanish are stylish in clothes and manner.
They try to overlook us, and so far, they are doing a very good job.
We love it though.