Pamplona isn’t a load of bull.

Day 7 – 23rd September 2015, Pamplona to Cizur Mayor. 

Hello friends!

I awoke to the sound of knocking, was it a spirit trying to attract my attention? Nope, I was still half asleep as I stumbled out of bed and opened the door a bit too quickly. For some reason my face was in the way and smack, I managed to cut my lip open. This is what can happen, when a blonde bimbles around unchecked. What a fantastic way to start the day! It could only get better, I thought. Alan had popped round to find out if Laurie and I were ok. Alan said “well obviously you have had some bad door karma in a past life”. Apparently it was 10am in the morning and I had no idea how late it was. Alan decided he would head off to the Plaza del Castille and we would meet him there in a while.

I was so grateful for the sleep in (minus squeaky bunks and the snorer from hell), as I had been struggling with a nasty head cold in the last day or two, which seemed to suck the life out of me. A good night’s sleep works wonders and I began to feel better, although still a bit sniffly.

The Hotel Arriazu was comfortable, clean and quiet. The downside was no breakfast included…so the intrepid pilgrims set off in the rain (yes the tangerine poncho was out again) in search of sustenance. Thankfully there was not a crazy bull in sight at this time of year, so we made it safely to the Plaza del Castille unscathed. I contemplated what would happen if some hapless and sleep deprived pilgrims stumbled onto the streets of Pamplona, accidentally during the festival of San Fermin. They would probably get to Santiago in record time or end up as road pizza.

First things first, the Eco laundry at number 10 beckoned, followed by a quick visit to the whole in the wall before breakfast…well it was actually time for brunch. Alan had already scouted out an excellent sandwich bar called Saint Wich, which had so much more to offer than sandwiches, even if they were the best of heaven according to the artwork on the walls. I ordered freshly squeezed orange juice, two cheese and onion empanadas, cafe con leche and a naughty pastel de Belem (and why not when I am burning thousands of calories off per day?).

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After brunch, we had a look around the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real. I wanted to light a candle for my mum but there were only electric ones (was this a case of health and safety gone mad, I thought to myself….I mean what is the point?). Apart from the candles, I was also disappointed in the lack of atmosphere in the cathedral. To me it didn’t feel like a ‘thin place’ like some of the smaller churches had. As a consequence, I did not spend very long there.

A bracing stroll around the city walls in the damp air followed and we had time for a quick coffee before Laurie and I decided to set off out of the city to our next stop, Cizur Mayor. Alan would come along later. We chose another Hostal (hotel) just 5 km outside Pamplona in order to catch up on more sleep before the tough day ahead including steep climb. This way, we thought, we would save our legs by not having to schlepp across Pamplona the next morning before making the ascent. It sounded like a good plan on paper, except this was as ‘expandable’ 5 km up a long hill and felt like at least another 2 km away from the Camino trail along a main highway. I needed the loo on the way, so we stopped at the University and blagged our way in. A nice economics student from Nicaragua showed us where ‘los servicios’ were. I flew into the ladies and didn’t even bother to take my backpack off, what an amazing feat of squatting and balance that was! We thanked the student for his help and turned round to find the exit to find the bursar looking thunderous as we left. I do hope we didn’t get the student into trouble! (but the Camino provides…)

Anyway, I digress, today’s happy ending transpired when Laurie and I finally checked into the Hostal Casa Azcona. What lovely people! The guy behind the bar in the cafe made us a great ensalada mixta and not long after that Alan arrived, so we chatted for a while and then all sloped off to get some rest…

More later….

Peace, love and light,

Sarah xxx

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