Waking up with the monks… Day #3

It’s 6:00 a.m., the lights go on along with the repetitive sound of chanting monks wafting throughout the Roncesvalles albergue. (Click on video) No alarm needed when 183 people get ready to start their day.

Stage 2Our goal today is to get five beds in either Zubiri or Larrasoana which will be between a 22 and 25 km walk.  Many pilgrims walking and biking today so we may be homeless, when it’s all said and done.  Should we have packed tents, too?

2014Camino-1070032popWe say our goodbyes to Roncesvalles and start down our path for Camino de Santiago day #3.

2014Camino-1070028plThe air is crisp and talk is minimal as most put their heads down and concentrate on loosening their muscles for the day. Come on, aspirin, kick in!

2014Camino-1070063dmvcrThe early morning fog creates a surreal feeling.


2014Camino-1070033dmvpopTime to fortify our lunch supply as we stop at a little grocery store as we near Burguete.

2014Camino-1070034dmvI hope the birds don’t decide that Joan is their lunch, too!

2014Camino-1070035kpdmvThe path continues as farms mix in with the small village buildings.

2014Camino-1070039dmv2014Camino-1070041dmvThe first town to appear along our route is Burguete, renowned for its sturdy Pyrenean style farmhouses.   The author, Ernest Hemingway, stayed here in 1924 and 1925 while on fishing trips and also describes the village in the book, The Sun Also Rises.

2014Camino-1070050dmvBurguete is a cute little village with flower pots near many a doorway or window sill.

2014Camino-1070048dmvcrThere had once been a witch’s coven in the Burguete area in the sixteenth century. The surrounding forested region, part of the province of Navarre, was known as the Wood of Sorginaritzaga or Oak Grove of the Witches. Medieval people had believed that the presence of a white cross would save them from such evil. Spain had repressed witchcraft in this Auritz-Burguete area and eastward around Roncesvalles more fiercely than anywhere else in the country. Long before the Spanish Inquisition began in 1478, a major raid against witches took place here in 1329. This resulted in the burning of five alleged witches in a village square.  ~http://www.heatherconnblogs.com/tag/auritz-burguete/

2014Camino-1070057kpcrOur path wanders through pastures as this farmer checks his cattle.  Just like home.




2014Camino-1070075plThe path turns to gravel with rolling hills.  Not a bad hike today!

2014Camino-1070078dmvWe wind through a small village to find a meticulously stacked woodpile, a clothesline and a neatly placed row of flower pots. To me, that is a beautiful sight and I know I could never stack wood that neatly.

2014Camino-1070080dmvThe path becomes more challenging as we proceed to Zubiri.

2014Camino-1070083dmvThe views make it worth the walk.

2014Camino-1070084dmvMaybe this should be our mantra today!


Puente de la Rabia ~ Google

We arrive in Zubiri, which means “village of the bridge,” after crossing the Puente de la Rabia (Rabies Bridge).  In days gone by, they believed that you could walk a rabid animal three times around the central arch and cure it of rabies.   ~Brierley   

We are happy to arrive in Zubiri as we hope to stay here, but sad to find that we are homeless…

Hmmm…  what to do?  Maybe if we walk around the bridge three times we will find beds to sleep in?  Well, at least we won’t have rabies.




Down, down, down… to Roncesvalles

Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.
~ Ed Viesturs

We continue on the 2nd day of our Camino through the fog with the chilling rain cold on the fingers.


2014Camino-1060980Keep smiling!  Here’s one for Liz’s blog called  Fashion Backwards.  Click link to see what that is all about!

2014Cam-24dmvcrRoland, commander of the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army, was defeated by the Basques in 778.  It was fought here in Roncevaux Pass, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain.  While oral tradition has the Christians defeating Muslims, both sides, actually, were Christian.  ~Wikipedia

Decision time… take the longer, but easier, hike along the highway or this steep trail risking a tumble down the path.

Pyrenees-36-road-down-and-shell-stoneWe opt for the steeper trail and Joan is the lone highway hiker of our group and we hope she doesn’t get lost.   It’s raining, the trail is difficult and I just plain forget to snap a shot, so the camera stays in the pouch. (Image above from rscottd13.blogspot.com) It is a tough descent down to the village and I find it helpful to grab tree branches (tip from another hiker at the top) to keep from sliding down.

2014Camino-1060994Challenging, but worth it for the colorful view.

2014Camino-1060997Slugs were plentiful on the trail and were quite entertaining, serving as a good excuse for a rest break.

2014Camino-1070010-2plWe arrive at our destination, Albergue Roncesvalles, and hope for a bed.  The available beds fill up quickly so the slow pokes may not be in luck. We are able to score enough beds in the newer three floor albergue which is set up in cubicles of 2 bunk beds each. 183 beds total.  They open the old church albergue for overflow (120 beds) and some will be sleeping in little box-like houses resembling fish houses near the grounds.  Unfortunate pilgrims arriving too late are forced to either sleep outside or keep moving on down the trail.

2014Camino-1070012-2dmvIn order to help pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees along the St James’ Way, around 1127, the Bishop of Pamplona, requested by King Alfonso I ‘the Battler’, founded the Roncesvalles Hospitality Institution.

Now, it’s time to sign up for the Pilgrim meal so we can be assured that our evening is complete.

2014Camino-1070026-2dmvWe take time to visit this small early Gothic chapel, The Chapel of Holy Spirit, built in the XII century. It is the oldest building in Roncesvalles.

2014Camino-1070025-2crSome legends state that the Frankish warriors killed in the battle of Roncesvalles in 778 were buried here and that fact was the reason to build that chapel. Some scientists and researchers say that is very doubtful and the Chapel of Holy Spirit was built in XII century. Pilgrims and Augustinian canons that died in Roncesvalles used to be buried here.  ~ Virtual Tourist

2014Camino-1070016-2pldmvcrWe attend the Collegiate Church Pilgrim Mass at 6 p.m. to see what that is all about. Built in the XIIIth century, pews filled up quickly plus people stand all around the back.  Air in the chapel is damp and chills to the bone after walking in the cold rain.2014Camino-1070015-3

2014Camino-1070009-2The stairwells are open between floors so we hear  fun conversations (In other languages) upstairs in the kitchen until light must go out.  It’s time to settle in for the long night and by now expect to be lulled to sleep by a serenade of snores.  I’ve been told that I am also a member of that choir.

Tomorrow we begin day three.

Day #1 from St. Jean… Can we really do this?

A restless night filled with anxiety. Dreams of falling off a mountain. ARE WE INSANE?
stage 1 camino ele_st.jeanOur destination for the day is Orisson. We opted to book our first night at Refuge Orisson instead of trying to do the entire 27.1 kilometer Napoleon Route over to Roncesvalles in one day. The first day seems to always be the hardest and combined with the steep grade would make the route to Roncesvalles miserable.  We choose not to be miserable as we don’t want to suffer that much!

2014Cam-1060805Visions of streets filled with noisy people starting their Camino de Santiago experience were quickly dashed.  Where is everybody?  Are we the last ones to leave?

2014Cam-1060821dmvThe St. Jean Farewell Committee on duty.

2014Cam-1060820pophpWe see a few stray backpackers, look down and there it is!  The shell…  We will see several shells in the next couple of weeks, but none as fancy as this until Santiago.  Note the French wording, “Jacques.”

2014Cam-1060818Follow the arrow!

2014Cam-1060833 The views become spectacular as we ascend the increasingly steep path.

2014Cam-1060837dmvRandy finds a new friend. If only he had brought along an ear of corn…

2014Cam-1060854Ding, ding, ding chimes the cowbell in the distance.

2014Cam-1060861dmvBreathtaking scenery and the path is challenging but not painful.

2014Cam-1060868dmvWe are not alone as we find walking mates throughout the day from Columbia/Miami, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Canada and Spain, to name a few. Columbia/Miami on the far left is doing the Camino on bicycle.

2014Cam-1060871dmvDoing A-O.K. and enjoying the view.

2014Cam-1060877View from my path location to the path below as a small group of hikers rest and chat.

2014Cam-1060883The climb becomes more difficult as we labor towards our destination.

2014Cam-1060884Yes!  Can’t see it yet, but it’s always comforting to have hope and the guidance of a sign.

2014Cam-1060885Ah-h-h-h….  There it is. Refuge Orisson consists of this albergue building and across the road is a terrace including tables from which we can enjoy a spectacular view of the valley.  All beds are booked and they are filling up the back yard with tents. Eighteen beds (bunk) in three rooms, two toilets, showers and a bar with food downstairs.  Who could ask for more?

2014Cam-1060890Boots are not allowed in the rooms so we park them here.  We are in a room with three bunk beds so one poor soul from Sweden will be joining us in the snoring chorus tonight.

We watch some wet Pilgrims arrive later as the rain drizzles down on them.  We are thankful to have arrived early enough to beat the rain.

Now we must make sure we are signed up for the evening Pilgrim meal and rest so that we can stay awake during the meal. I will be using the video features of my camera tonight so stay tuned for the results!