Camino La Rioja… the journey begins here!

⏰ 2.45pm – OMG! Hilly and Sue are 15 mins early? If you know Hilly then you will understand the Omg! We collect Andrea then drive to Grange Park and squeeze in the last passenger, Gabriele. Gabriele answers the door with a good book in her hand. In a lovely German accent, she states… “you are early!”. Photos were taken and then we are off heading for the Travelodge at Gatwick.

🚗 4.20 pm – We put the world to right in the car but also play a game where we try to guess the gender, job, character etc of the person driving the very clean white Fiat 500 in front of us. Most decide that it was a female hairdresser with pink hair and polished nails. Andrea won as she claimed it must be a gay guy with earrings… spot on! We did laugh although the guy in the car did not look impressed as we drove by his car all howling with laughter and pointing.

Sue, Me, Gabriele, Hilly & Andrea

💩 5pm – Park up. Everyone checks in and I go to pay for parking for 7 days. Apparently, there is a maximum limit of just 3 days! Why would they do that? I Google “Gatwick airport parking” and without checking the reviews I book parking for 6 days from the South Terminal £93! Ouch. Needless to say the service was terrible and they kept us waiting for over an hour.

🏨 7. 30pm – I need wine! Hilly, Sue & Gabriele are enjoying a few bottles (yes, bottles!) of wine while Andrea and I sort out the parking. A little Portuguese man called Jose finally collects the car and takes us back to the Travelodge.

💤 9.50 pm – too much wine and a chicken burger later (thanks Andrea) we finally say our goodnights and slip off to bed. Tomorrow we fly to Pamplona! Let the adventure begin! Buen Camino!

The next day….

CAMINO RIOJA – TRAVEL DAY Gatwick to Pamplona

The one with the lost luggage, the bloody injury and pinchos!

SUMMARY:- Early start followed by lost luggage, an awesome massive coach ride and a not so great evening meal in Pamplona.


🚌 6.47am – Shuttle from the Travelodge to South Terminal £3 each and a nice easy transfer.

🔪 7.20am – I’ve no idea how I managed to get my pocket knife through security. Note to self, put you knife in the hold luggage next time!

🍳 8.10am – The breakfast arrived a few minutes before the gate was called. Gabriele order poached eggs but when the guy repeated the order back to us he said “you would like scrambled eggs but powe..ached).

✈️ Vueling airlines is pretty good.

🧳 11.40am – We queued in the passport control line and we can see the baggage going round on the conveyor belt through the glass windows. I turn to Angie “look, there’s my bag!, I can chill now”. We get a stamp in our passports and go to collect our luggage. My bag and Gabriele’s is now not on the belt? That’s weird? Puzzled we wait to see if they reappear but no! Where are our bags? They were there a minute ago? I check with the rest of the group and no one had picked them up. So we are directed to the lost luggage area. 20 mins later while Gabriele is completing the paperwork I go to inform the group what is happening. Suddenly to my right the conveyor belt starts up again and then two little bags appear! Thank god for that!

🍷 I remove my rucksack from the travel carrier only to discover everything is wet? That’s strange? I then realised that a familiar aroma was wafting from my bag… was that wine? I dabbed the wet area then licked my fingers… yes it was wine. Weird? Then I remembered that I had one of those small bottles of wine in my front mesh. I shoved my hand into the mesh and instantly regretted it. The glass pierced three of my fingers and blood now poured out mixing in with the wine. What a mess! Thanks to Hilly for patching me up.

🚎 12.30 pm – The private transfer is here! Omg! We have a whole coach to ourselves (50 seater!) Kriss Saunders has done us proud!

Look at the size of this bus! (there are only 12 of us!)

🥾 14.35 pm – As we arrive in Pamplona we spot our first pilgrims. It’s now all very real.

🏨 3 pm – All checked in at the hotel

🍺 4.10 pm – We are hungry so we seek beer and pinchos before any exploring.

⛪️ 4.50 pm – The cathedral tour was as lovely as it’s always been. Everyone now has their first stamp on their Camino passport.

🍷 5.25 pm – Everyone has gone to do their own thing and explore this amazing city. One of our group has gone to get a massage, and others have gone to see the walls of Pamplona and other sights. I’m currently sipping a cold glass of Vino Blanco on the main plaza while watching the world go by. I feel so at home here. I keep spotting pilgrims and it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

🍴 7.15 pm – Not the best meal! We are at the Tasca Don Jose on the main plaza and ordered a variety of dishes. Most were cold and it was disappointing. I had lasagna which was ok but the sauce that looked like custard was cold as were others meals. Oh well, tomorrow's meal will be fine as I know where we are eating tomorrow

🙂🎒 I got chatting with Merlisa and Alex from the Netherlands. Our first Camino pilgrims.

🏬 9pm – popped to the supermarket for last-minute supplies and I’m all set for our 1st day of hiking tomorrow.

Need sleep.

Tomorrow we start walking!