Camino Highs and Lows

Updated with photos May 16, 2012

It’s really beginning to look like the movie Groundhog Day on El Camino. Wake up, walk, lather, rinse, eat, sleep, repeat. In 10 days we have covered approximately 120 miles. Before I came here, I seriously thought I would be walking 30km days with no problem. “I mean, I ran a marathon, I’m pretty fit.” But, my body had other ideas consisting of bringing my ego down to size.

Walking from Estella to Los Arcos was beyond picture perfect. It was like I was photoshopped into one of the most beautiful places in the world. Bright blue sky, a slight breeze, long grass of every shade of green, rolling hills, vineyards, wildflowers, mountains in the distance, butterflies, I even passed a wine fountain – seriously, it was almost too amazing. And even better, physically, I was feeling like a rock star.

Yes, that would be a wine fountain.

The landscape was like a dream.

One of the many vineyards of the day.

My walking buddy of the day since our pace was similar. We didn’t talk much because we were both listening to our iPods. Every once in a while we’d stop, comment on the landscape, then continue on. Days later, I ran into him again and discovered he was French.

But, this feeling was short lived because the next day I woke up to pouring rain. I don´t want to complain as much as I did on this day, but I´ll just say that 20km in the cold rain straight up sucked. When Audrey and I arrived (looking like wet rats) at the hostel in Viana we were greeted with 3 tiered bunk beds. Not exactly ideal sleeping and living conditions. To make the day even more frustrating, my Achilles tendon was severely inflamed and I could barely walk. Yup, overall a sucky day.

The next day, I nearly took the bus but once I realized it was Sunday and I was going to have to wait 2 hours, angry, depressed and frustrated, I decided to give it a go. I walked 9km, over 3 hours…in my sandals. It was rough, but I think it loosened up my Achilles, lifted my spirits and the next day I was able to bust out a 23km day with energy to spare.

Self portrait titled “Limping 9km in Sandals”

But doing much better the next day and walking 23km

More vineyards

And yes, that would be a snow-capped mountain in the distance.

So, as you can see, the El Camino has been a series of highest highs and lowest lows on so many different levels. However, I am loving every second of time with my Camino Family (Audrey, Jim and Franz) and will be really sad to leave them once we arrive in Burgos this Friday or Saturday.

Getting into the Camino Groove

Updated with photos and a video May 10, 2012

So here the 4 of us were in a restaurant in Pamplona. I threw out the idea of hanging in the city and then taking a bus or taxi to hook back up with them the next night in whatever city they might stop in. The point being that I could enjoy my rest day in Pamplona and keep my Camino family unbroken. Then Jim threw out the idea of Audrey hanging back and doing the same. Done and done.

But as it turns out Pamplona isn’t such a big city with so much to see, so after getting breakfast and walking around for a while we checked in to a modern hostel named ‘Jesus & Maria’. Then we bought things to make dinner and breakfast since the place had a kitchen. The rest of the day was spent resting, reading, facebooking and getting ready to meet back up with Jim and Franz the next night in Cirauqua.

Audrey contemplating Pamplona

About as close as I’ll ever get to running with the bulls.

Main Square in Pamplona

The city of Hemingway

Since we went to bed at 9pm, we were walking out the door by 6:45am. Audrey was having some knee pain so we decided to take a bus/taxi to a little town at the bottom of the hill called Urtega. This would make the day 15km of relatively flat terrain instead of 27 of which was a lot of downhill. So while walking through Urtega I looked to my left and saw two familiar faces. It was Franz and Jim. Audrey and I couldn’t escape them if we tried. I guess it we were meant to walk together. And so we did. It was a blustery but beautiful day the countryside. The long green grass looked like ocean waves that went on for miles.


A day of beautiful scenery

I could sleep in this grass.

Around 2pm we landed in Cirauqua which is a really unique mountain village with a hostel, church and supermarket. I’m lame – I didn’t take any pictures this day, but Google does a fine job. After a nice afternoon rest the hostess made a fantastic and huge dinner that caused me to fall asleep by 10pm.

I woke up at 5am and decided that today was the day I would walk alone and meet the others in Estella. They landscape was pretty similar to the day before and this caused me to walk so quickly that I arrived in Estella at 10:30 am, 2 hours before the hostel opened. I grabbed something to eat and explored. Promptly at 12:30 I greeted the hostess at the door. I was the first one of the day. So, as of now the others have not showed up. I didn’t realize what a big city this was so I hope they find me, but if not, I’ll just see them tomorrow in Los Arcos…I hope…

Estella fortress

Entering Estella.