Each October, I have the pleasure of taking a group of new hikers over the Pyrenees to experience a taste of the Camino de Santiago. This year, we were a party of 12 and I must say, the group bonded so well and we enjoyed every step along the way, even though it wasn't plain sailing! I vlogged the journey, from the initial travelling day to arriving in Pamplona. I hope you enjoy this mini blog series.
The one with the fire alarm, Spanish night terrors and crisp packet shoes!
WEATHER: It rains in Spain! All-day!
MILES: Total: about 14 miles. My AllTrails didn’t work today. I blame the weather!
HEALTH: A few people have achy hips and knees after today’s walk, but spirits are good.
RONCESVALLES TO ZUBIRI
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY:
🤐 8.40 pm – Last night, Emma, Denise, Snay & I were in our little pods of four chatting about the day. From the pod next door, a strong foreign accent said “sssssshhh! Sleep!” – that told us! We gave each other looks and I felt like I’d been told off by my mum! But it did the trick and we all settled down for the night.
🔥 10pm – OMG! The fire alarm went off! We left it a few minutes and it continued so we started getting up to see what we were meant to do… then it stopped. Ok, back to sleep. 10 minutes later it happened again! Three times the alarm went off!
🇪🇸 1.12 am – I’m woken by a Spanish man screaming! He is obviously experiencing a sleep terror of some kind. I know it’s not funny but I had to cuddle my quilt to stop me laughing!
🚿 5.05 am – I’m wide awake. I have a shower, get dressed and then sit down to write my blog. Writing on a phone is a challenge but telling tales of the day is a great way to relive an experience.
⏰ 6.05 am – What on earth is that? Someone has set an alarm clock but it’s very loud! Why aren’t they turning it off? I then realise that it’s not an alarm, but piped music throughout the monastery! In previous years they play “monks singing”, this year is the theme from Titanic!! It seems to get louder and louder. Next up is Celine Dion. This is bizarre! Then “ping” all the lights come on! That’s the Spanish way of telling everyone it’s time to get up! Today, I don’t need to wake Rob up 😂.
👂 6.30 am – We are all talking about the fire alarm last night. Snay says “what alarm?” She didn’t hear a thing!
🍳 7.30 am – I’ve booked everyone in for breakfast apart from me! I don’t know how I forgot to do that and now they have no availability. I felt like a homeless person as Denise got me a coffee, then Snay donated some toast!
🧳 8.30 am – Breakfast done. Luggage is all labelled and ready for collection and today’s briefing has been given. I wanted a group photo in front of the sign saying Santiago 790km (check out the video, it’s quite funny). On our way to the sign, we see Canadian Fred. He has decided to take a rest day. Going over the Pyrenees was very challenging for him. He’s not on a time limit, and I believe he has made the right decision. We exchange details and wish him well. Buen Camino Fred!
👞 8.35 am Two ladies asked me to take their photo. I oblige then realise that they both have something on their walking shoes. I love a gadget and these look like some sort of shoe quirky covering to keep the rain off. I ask about the shoes and one lady grins at me lifts her trousers to reveal crisp packets strapped to her shoes by elastic bands! Whatever works! I saw them again later that day when they were purchasing their second pair of shoe protectors at a cafe! Genius. Lol 😂
🌳 9.13 am After a walk through the woods in the rain, we emerge into the small village of Burette. This place is so Spanish it’s adorable. Small white houses with cute flower boxes in the windows and cobbled streets. This scenery is spoilt by the red and white glow of the Santander Bank sign, but it’s a welcome sight as I can now get some cash-out. The machine charges me €7 admin! Ouch.
Theresa, Leisa, Caroline, John & Rob are on their way and ahead of the pack. I didn’t see them again until lunch.
🙏 10.19 am – I’m now walking with Joolz and it’s a rather gruelling incline. I stop suddenly as a robin flies down and sits on the path right in front of us. “There’s my robin” I declare to Joolz. “And there is mine”, she says pointing to the bushes to the right. We stand there for a minute or two thinking about our little visitors, knowing that people that have passed are encouraging us along this trail and up this friggin hill in the rain. We got this!
🇺🇸 12.30 – I’m quite fast up the hills and it’s important that you walk at your own pace, so I leave Joolz to the trail and continue walking with a new hiker called Tom from Colorado. Tom has set up a not for profit business in the US to help people through a life transition by taking them along the Camino. He asks if he can pick my brains about group management along the trail and I’m happy to answer his questions.
🥗 12pm – Lunchtime! I’m now walking with Peter, Michael and Suzy from Austria. They have a good rapport together, all in matching ponchos, and we laugh and joke along the trail. The cafe that I usually stop at is now closed up (sad) so we continue through the village. I spot John sitting outside and tucking into an omelette which looks lush! I want one of those!! It was good to see the front runners (Theresa, Leisa, J&C & Rob). We chat and I tell them I will hold on for the back group and to text me when they get to Zubiri. In the meantime, I order my own omelette and it tastes as good as it looked.
🎒 1 pm – Everyone else is at the cafe now, including a new addition to the family, Belle. I don’t know much about her (yet) but Denise, Snay and Emma have taken her under their wing.
🪨 I walk most of the rest of the hike with Joolz. The descent into Zubiri is rather steep along sharp rocks and through wooded areas. It’s still raining and the trail is more like a river than a path. My poncho is working well. By 3 pm I’m crossing the gorgeous stone bridge over the river that leads into the small town of Zubiri.
🧽 My hostel is different to everyone else as I have a room to myself tonight. Antony (Irish fella) is here and asks if we want to go halves on a clothes wash. I look at my muddy hiking leggings and say “yep!”
🍷 6.50 pm – I arrive at the bar where everyone else has been here since 3 pm. Needless to say, the wine has flowed and the volume is loud! We share our biggest surprises about the Camino which made me smile inside and out.
💰 Stories about the day unfold. I discovered that Snay came down the last section into Zubiri on her bum! Theresa preferred the bar rather than the walk, Denise took some amazing photos of mushrooms, and Caroline skipped down the slippery slate rocks! We all enjoyed free mini sausages with cheese (all free of charge from the bar… yes, we spent that much!).
🎵 We ended the evening with a meal at a local restaurant. Dishes were ordered by number. I had 3, 14 & 15. Aka, Soup, Tuna and caramel pudding. As we walked home we sang “show me the way to go home”.., very loudly!
This trip has been epic!
It’s our last day of walking tomorrow but it’s a trip I will never forget.