Camino Day 3 - Thurs 30/5/2002:
Puente La Reina

30.5 km today
94 total
Westward Ho!

Left late today - nobody seemed to wake until 7:15 or so. I wasn't complaining.
Walked a bit with Dave; my leg was OK for the first 500m but then nagged, getting progressively worse. At first, it only "twinged" when I bent the knee, but shortly afterwards it ached no matter what. Liberal applications of the emulgel helped. I was walking too slowly, and didn't want to hold Dave up, so he went ahead.

Pamplona looked like an interesting town with a large student population; following the Camino yellow arrows was, well, "interesting" -- I only got lost twice. I limped onwards, relying on my walking stick, and at the far end of Pamplona, met Dave again who was nursing a nasty-looking blister and waiting for a nearby Pharmacy to open. I wished him luck and kept going, expecting him to catch up. (He eventually did -- in Léon, 12 days and 400 km later!)

Passed quite a few pilgrims, most of whom must have stayed in Pamplona proper, because our refugio was less than 2/3 full last night.

Scallop Shelled Houses

Burlada, suburb of Pamplona (960x720, 57K)

Ayuntamiento (Town Hall)

Pamplona (720x960, 46K)


I think. (960x720, 40K)

Alto del Perdón

Windmills (960x720, 67K)

After leaving Pamplona, the camino becomes a dust track climbing to Monte del Perdón (1040m) which has 30-odd windmills, of which around ten were whirling slowly as I passed. (As an aside, there's a complete git of a columnist for the Irish Times here named Kevin "know-all" Myers, who generally adopts a sanctimonious 'holier-than-thou' position or just one most calculated to provoke controversy -- though in fairness, he (accidentally?) hits the spot every now and then.) He has stated on numerous occasions that the Spanish windmills produce little in the way of electric power and are the biggest killers of birdlife in Spain -- apart from hunting season. As he has, shall we say, been completely wrong in the past, I'd be interested in knowing whether he's talking through his arse again. Not that it matters.)

The dust track passes nearby towns such as Guenduláin, seemingly built on little hills poking out of a sea of corn. A bunch of English people were hiking this rock-strewn uphill track pushing a pram with a toddler inside. I thought I'd seen everything. At least the pram was one of those 3-wheeled "modern" suspension jobs.

The climb to Alto del Perdón was a bit tough on my poor knees. The view from the top was worth it, though -- backwards to Zariegui with Pamplona just visible through the haze, and forwards to the villages of Uterga, Muruzábal and Obanos on the plain. (Alas my photo of this is horribly blurred, sorry.)

East: Zariegui & hazy Pamplona

from Alto del Perdón (960x720, 32K)

West: plain of Uterga

Horribly blurred (960x720, 27K)

El Refugio

Puente la Reina (960x720, 53K)

My dorm in el refugio

Puente la Reina (960x720, 50K)

Finally limped in to the exeedingly picturesque village of Puente la Reina ("Bridge of the Queen"), 346m, pop 2000. The town is named for the C11 six-span bridge over the river Arga, built by command of Queen Urraca, which remains basically unchanged.
Intriguingly, on the way in to town, a large very modern hotel has a sign announcing itself as a "refugio", but I opted to continue to the much more central "official" refugio run by the Padres Reparadores. The refugio turned out to be packed; despite my being first in the queue, a crowd of French and Germans just barged past. I must cultivate a more intimidating look.
As for the refugio, it was not at all bad, with modern facilities and comfy bunk beds. I dumped my bags, had a shower, and limped out to explore the town, but not before listening to one of my roommates, a badly sunburned Spanish guy who had foolishly walked through the afternoon wearing only a tank top and shorts, attempt to chat up two Brazilian cuties in English. It was excruciating!
Had I been in better condition, I would have loved to have gone the 5KM extra to Eunate, site of an octagonal C12 church surrounded by arches, and of a graveyard where pilgrims were buried. (After they'd died, one hopes.)

Puente la Reina is, as I mentioned, exceeedingly picturesque:

Narrow street

Puente la Reina (960x720, 53K)

Ornate Doorway

Church of Santiago (960x720, 55K)

El Puente

Puente la Reina (960x720, 43K)


Puente la Reina (960x720, 62K)

Got postcards, holed up in a bar to scribble something on them (had a Grimbergen beer while doing so, v. tasty!) Some of the postcards had a map on the back showing the route of the Camino from Roncesvalles to Santiago. I had done about a twentieth, it looked like. Ouch. And of course I managed to add up the kilometres wrongly, figuring I'd done about 20 today. Judging by the way my knee and shin felt, I began to have some doubts about my ability to complete it.

Had a paella mixta and a half-bottle of a local crianzo in a restaurant -- again, I was struck by how good the food was in Spain. Simple ingredients, cooked well. The fact that they seemed to drink wine like we drink milk probably helped. And restaurants were much cheaper than here in Ireland...
Returned to the refugio, popping into the very ornate church along the way. Scribbled my diary, applied the Voltarén Emulgel to my knees, and crawled into my sleeping bag.

Alas, not to sleep. The aforementioned sunburned Spanish guy ("El Lobster") in our 12-person dorm snored like a feckin' train! They could have held a scientific conference on him. It was unnatural. He was capable of varying pitch and duration, attack and decay, and he used and combined these weapons to chilling effect. All of us in the dorm looked at each other in amazement; he was impossible to wake up. Perhaps we should have thrown heavier objects at him. Of the eleven people in the dorm, six left during the night, preferring to sleep in the kitchen rather than listen to him. God alone knows how his poor wife copes: he claimed the following morning that we should just get used to his snoring like she did. How she must enjoy the three weeks he takes as holiday every year to do the Camino!

I did manage to get about two and a half hours or so or scattered sleep, so I shouldn't complain. I spent much of it dreaming of ways to stop El Lobster from snoring; alas, all of them seemed to be fatal. I resolved to buy some earplugs as a matter of urgency.