It was so pleasant that night that we decided to meet again at the end of the next day in Pamplona, the city of the bull runs.

pamplona

I set out on my own again, so I could walk at my own speed. It was also pleasant that I could decide myself when to stop for a cup of coffee. It was a short but beautiful route along centuries-old pilgrims’ bridges. The surroundings consisted of wooded hills and all around you could see gold-coloured grain fields and terracotta houses.

A few hours later I entered Pamplona. I had to get used to the hustle and bustle of a big city. Until that moment, the route consisted solely of nature and nice little villages. Pamplona was a wonderful city with impressive city walls, beautiful old houses and small, narrow alleyways.

When I arrived at our inn just outside the centre, the other Zubiri-goers were already there. Which wasn’t strange, since I had been the last to depart. Everyone was enjoying the lovely garden and a good glass of wine. That was always a wonderful reward after a day’s hike. To get rid of your rucksack, take off your shoes and have a glass of wine or beer immediately after check-in. A shower came only after that. The atmosphere was relaxed and we continued the party of the previous night.

stiletto heels

Suddenly Miss Kiwi rose to her feet. She had a very special hiking outfit for the Camino to Santiago. Not the usual multi-length trousers or cut-off jeans. Apart from her cowboy hat she was wearing joggers, a long blouse and a cardigan around her waist. In addition, a small rucksack and an extra cloth bag with big flower power flowers on it. This flower power bag hung slanted around her neck. Most pilgrims took more luggage, often some 15 kg in one big, heavy rucksack.

During the drinks she had swapped her hiking outfit for a sexy long skirt with a top. She walked to her cloth flower power bag and conjured up a pair of stiletto heels. Everyone burst out laughing. What on earth could she do with these on the pilgrim route to Santiago? We were presented a hilarious stage play on high heels. It made Miss Kiwi even more mysterious than she already was. Eventually, we concluded this fantastic evening in beautiful Pamplona with a delicious diner and flamenco music.

The next day the dutchies, Miss Kiwi and I took a rest day. Sleep in and discover Pamplona. The magnificent cathedral, the baroque city hall and the monument for Ernest Hemingway presented the city’s rich history. The city was wonderfully quiet, partly thanks to the empty arena for bull fights.

rat race and fears

The next morning we walked together for the first time: the dutchies, Anja, Ilse, Joyce, Miss Kiwi and me. By the way, I also had to make concessions and rise very early to be able to depart just before 6 A.M. This did not really make me happy.

Most inns closed their doors as early as 8 A.M., so they could clean in the morning before new pilgrims arrived. Most hikers flocked out of the inn at 6 A.M. to arrive as early as possible at the next inn, afraid that there would be no room left. Besides, many hikers feared the heat at midday, afraid they would succumb.

Usually being the last one to leave an inn, this was a completely new experience for me. Everywhere I saw pilgrims walking in long lines, it was an amazing sight. It reminded me of a four-day evening walk, something that doesn’t fit me at all, let alone for a pilgrimage. Never again – we were like a flock of sheep. I wanted to break from the line, but at the same time I didn’t want to leave the group I enjoyed so much. Who knows, maybe I could persuade the others to set out a bit later as well.

puente la reina

The route to Puente la Reina was beautiful: we walked over a mountain ridge with windmills, the Sierra del Perdón. On the summit the view was amazing. On one side it was mostly green with fields of sunflowers and grain. On the other side, in the direction of Puente la Reina, it was more arid, but still beautiful with totally different colours. On the summit we made photos; we immediately recognised the modern pilgrim monument from the well-known movie The Way.

Arriving in Puenta de Reina we checked in at an inn. That night we dined with a large group of pilgrims outside on the terrace. A wonderful place, somewhere in a back street with the locals. Miss Kiwi put on a new stage show and a hilarious mood soon developed. We could hardly remain seated on our chairs with laughter. It was a fantastic and unforgettable evening, but it was followed by a short, sleepless night.

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