Round two ding ding! Last year we had our first foray on the Camino, in four days we walked from St Jean in France to Puenta la Reina in Spain and we absolutely loved it. So this year we decided to go back for more. Also, so many of our customers are walking it that we wanted to make sure we knew what we were talking about when selling them gear!
Last year we finished up in Puenta la Reina. This year we flew out of Dublin on a 7.00am flight, arrived into Bilbao at 10am, made our way from Bilbao Airport into Bilbao Bus Station. We'd booked a bus (www.busbud.com) from Bilbao to Pamplona at 11.45am and we made that with time to spare. It was a very easy and straightforward trip.
We arrived into Pamplona at 2pm. I fished a map out of a bin (classy bird!) and realised that the Camino route was only a couple of blocks away - score! Filled up with water (only 1 litre between the two of us...not enough!) and we were on our merry way. Promptly walked 2km in the wrong direction...damn you map but after turning ourselves around we eventually found the familiar Camino markers.
Now, setting off in 34 degrees heat with half a litre of water each is a bit stupid but we clearly remembered from last year that there was a shop in a town called Cizur Menor 5km outside of Pamplona. We tramped out of Pamplona, happily spotting the familiar sights of the University grounds as we retraced our steps from last year.
When we got to Cizur Menor the shop was closed....no water! Dum dum dum. Still, it was only another 5km to the next town of Zariquiegui. It was all uphill, now it's not particularly steep but in the heat and without enough water it was tough.
I won't go into the full details of my moaning and groaning as we went up that hill, I won't tell you that my hands started to swell into lobster hands in the heat - my Irish blood is not good in the heat....suffice to say Phil was very patient with me and he dragged me up in a pleasant manner!
We eventually reached the little town of Zariquiegui, 10km outside of Pamplona. There we joined other late Afternoon Peregrinos who all agreed it was mad being out in the heat. We'd stopped in a little Albergue that served food and most other folks were calling it a day here and staying for the night. After a bite to eat and a delicious glass of wine we were raring for road again.
One last haul up the top of the pass and you arrive at a bunch of statues of Peregrinos. Stopped here for some pics ....
It was now around 5pm and we had roughly 11km to go, most of it was down-hill. We trucked along merrily, walking through a couple of little towns - Uterga, Murazabel and Obanos but we didn't dilly dally...there was a cold beer with our name on it in Puenta La Reina.
Arrived into Puenta La Reina at around 7pm. Now, we are definitely not hard-core Peregrinos, last year we tried out the Albergues but this year we figured we'd opt for private rooms where we could. We also booked ahead, the Camino is pretty busy in early September. We stayed in Hotel Jakue, the first place you reach on your way into Puenta La Reina. It's lovely (we'd stayed there last year) and they do a good value buffet (serve until 10pm but try and get in before 9.30pm as they start tidying stuff away around then).
So day one down. Gear working well so far. We especially love our bags. Both of us are carrying Lowe Alpine Trek Plus 35:45L (the girl version is 33:40L)