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Journal

Follow here my journey and stories around the World. 

 

Filtering by Tag: Navarra

Day 5: Estella - Navarrete

Ivan Blanco

Español aquí

Day 5 and a new chapter of my Camino de Santiago was ahead.

The day before I was reluctant to stay in Estella or continue on, luckily, I didn't leave and had the chance to see the beauty of this town, have an awesome burger for dinner, the best ever alioli sauce and chips (check Restaurante Aljama), a really big beer and I even experienced the first rain drops of my Camino. 

But best of all, one my longest and strongest Camino friendships was about to start.

The Ondiñas Team!

While I was checking the nearby albergues at the tourism office and was almost about to leave, I met there 3 more bike pilgrims, they had just arrived from Ordizia (a little town in the Basque Country) and they were looking for an albergue too. After a quick chat, Maitane, Carla, Marta and I ended up looking for a place together. That's how easy one Basque, two Catalans and one Galician ended up heading together to Santiago de Compostela.

After a good night's sleep, we, the "Ondiñas" team (stay tuned to future posts to discover where this name comes from) left the magnificent Estella in search of some breakfast. Considering we were in Navarra, what better choice for breakfast than some...Wine! Yes, you've read it right, wine!

Keep reading, keep reading!

Yes! A wine fountain!

The Designation of Origin (D.O.) Navarra may be overshadowed by the more popular Bordeaux and Rioja ones, but this region's red wines have nothing to envy them and is actually one of the hidden gems of the Spanish wine growing tradition (more info here). Therefore, there's no better way to show it with... a wine fountain! Yes, you've read it right again, there's a wine fountain for pilgrims and visitors on the Camino, it's hosted by the Irache winery and there's no better start of a day when you're invited like this: "Pilgrim, if you wish to arrive at Santiago full of strength and vitality, have a drink of this great wine and make a toast to happiness" (click here for more info of this wine fountain). 

Sixth recommendation for the Camino: open up your eyes and spirit, and the Camino will reward you with plenty of surprises!

Following our "toast to happiness" we headed out to Arcos where we stopped for some credential stamps and some refreshment. It was also the moment where I did another photo interview with Carla and where we remembered the moving story of Cliff and his wife and Carla's own one. Keep fighting guys!

Bulls on the Camino

Arcos was also the first attempt to meet a friend of mine who lives nearby, but we had to keep going, so we went on to Viana, where to our surprise, the town was in celebration! Actually, one street path of the Camino was a bit occupied by... bull running! Yes, you're reading right again, bulls instead of pilgrims and bikes. We accidentally barged into the town's annual festivities with the typical white clothing and red scarf dressing, a great party mood where everyone was joyfully dancing, singing and drinking water (see below). 

Happiest drinking child ever

Destiny somehow made it that my friend Mireia called me that instant too and she was heading to Viana to meet me! I couldn't wish for a better place and moment to reunite with an old friend, she even brought me a gift, local homegrown asparagus, mmmm!

"Muchas gracias Mire y espero volver a verte prontico!" 

Having to go on, I bitterly had to leave this nice reunion and continue on my own to Logroño (the bike girls headed out while I stayed in Viana). There, I just did a quick ice cream stop and continued to Navarrete, where Maitane, Carla and Marta had already arrived. I specially enjoyed the ride from Logroño to Navarrete because it was a natural path along the Grajera reservoir and river, ending up through beautiful wine yards that produce, in this case, Rioja's excellent wines (more info on the DOCa Rioja wines here). 

After some strolling around in this marvelous scenery, at some point I had to hurry a bit because some angry clouds started to show up... some people don't like them, specially the grey ones, but I just love 'em, I couldn't do some of my best landscape photos without, check it yourself on the pic below!

Yin Yang weather over Navarrete

Since I wasn't looking to get wet, destiny struck again and made me arrive to the town's Albergue in perfect timing, it started dripping just when I got there. I caught up with the girls, we went to a casual wine and ham tasting held in Navarrete's town square and we went for dinner, just in time to watch on TV the amazing entry of the Spanish Vuelta into our own final destination: Santiago de Compostela! (watch it here and click here for more info of this cycling competition). 

Do you remember the angry clouds?  Well, they finally decided to join the show! And boy did they do it through the big door: thunder, storm, pouring cats and dogs and wind took the scene, thank God we were covered and enjoying our meal!

Unfortunately, once we went back to the albergue, a few surprises awaited for me...

Curious? Then watch out for my next post to check them out.

Day 4: Zariquiegui - Estella

Ivan Blanco

Zariquiegui sunrise moments

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After a wonderful people crossing the living room wake up, where the Italians and I were sleeping. We had the chance to witness one of the nicest sunrises I experienced in the whole Camino.

Fifth recommendation for the Camino: don't be picky on where you sleep, plastic rattling, people waking up early and sleeping anywhere are the norm.

Once I finished with another of my photo interviews, I headed out with Giulia and Nicola with the intention to reach Arcos on that day, but on the Camino only a few times things work out as planned, which is also a good, you'll see. 

Travel shapes

Remembering a little the dreadful hills of St. Jean Pied de Port (check day 1 part 1 and part 2), I arrived at the Paso del Perdón, a unique vantage point where you oversee Pamplona's lands and the next road to Santiago. The attraction there are a few iron made pilgrim shapes that are part of every "Peregrino"s photo album. Letting Giulia and Nicola lead, I stayed a little bit more and mingled with other pilgrims, meeting a nice Italian journalists couple from San Remo, Stefano and Silvia, I talked with them about my photo project and we had a great conversation on communication and journalism.

"Spero vedervi presto a Nizza ragazzi !".

As back in Zubiri, I had again one bumpy ride downhill, with stones, roots and water made furrows. I went on however and managed to reach Puente de la Reina for a small pit stop. It was on my agenda as a place to sleep, but it felt like I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as Zariquiegui. After 2 fruits and 2 croissants from the town's market, I went for a quick pic of the bridge that gives the town's name: Puente de la Reina (=The Queen's bridge).

San Remo & Nice

With Arcos as my final destination in mind, I headed out with still a couple of hours of pedaling. But I didn't have lunch, so I stopped in Lorca for some beer and one of our national dishes: Tortilla (Spanish omelette)! Don't confuse it with the Mexican ones, ours are fat and really tasty! The best one is made by my Mum (every Spaniard will tell you the same thing from theirs ;) ). When I was almost finishing, Giulia and Nicola, which I had left in front at Alto del Perdon, entered the same bar, and obviously another beer round had to be shared. It was also the first time I met another Italian with a long beard and which I won't see and get to know until later in the Camino.

Once I reached Estella, my first attempt to get a place to sleep failed, the first available Albergue was just filled up by a pilgrim in front of me, however, remembering my first Camino recommendation, I happily went on. I was still considering to ride further to Arcos (22km more), so I ended up in the tourism office to see what the route had to offer. Destiny might have taken me there again, because that was where I made one of the most lasting encounters of my Camino...

Stay tuned for day 5 of my Camino to discover who I met this time...

Day 2: Roncesvalles - Villava

Ivan Blanco

Español aquí

My second day of the St. James Way started a bit earlier than the day before, after wishing the best to the amazing Vicente (see Day 1 Part 2) my initial plan was to at least reach Pamplona or nearby.

Departing Roncesvalles with a tree full path, I really started to enjoy the beauty of nature without the steepness of the day before. My new first encounter was in Bizkarreta, where I met Jose and he recommended me a great place to eat in Zubiri.

I managed to reach this town around lunch time and I found Jose and his son Carlos who were actually from Sabadell and touring the region to sell trousers for chasing. It was a nice experience to meet people outside the Camino and the food was awesome.

Bumpy downhills of Zubiri

Unfortunately, that was also when in realised that I lost my French phone, it could have been lost anywhere between Roncesvalles and Zubiri, a 26 km path with many bumpy downhills. Therefore the Camino had already taken something from me on the second day. 

Third recommendation for the Camino: buckle up your important gear thoroughly.

I almost wanted to stay in Zubiri, but the day was still long and I wasn't expecting to find my phone in the wilderness (it didn't give any tone when calling).

Alfred and I

Forgetting my loss, I went down to Villava through one of the most beautiful and funniest paths of my Camino. I had chosen this town to avoid the crowd in Pamplona and meet people easier. That's where I met Alfred, my dorm neighbour with whom I quickly started to connect with stories and places we've visited. We had a great basque dinner and beers and I continued my photo project with him.  

It actually was more like meeting an old friend again and I'm glad of every moment we've spent together: Ich wünsche dir ein tollen Camino Alfred!