Chapter 10 – To Zubri (Day 2 of Camino)
After a long day of climbing the Pyrenees, you really feel all your muscles greeting you the next day “good morning” loud and clear – but in the same time we were ready to finish the Pyrenees and tackle something new.
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end ― Ernest Hemingway
We couldn’t convince our Innkeeper to give us breakfast early and she convinced us to stay for the grand breakfast. So we had to settle for breakfast at 8 am with items like Tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelet) ham, cheese and cakes. I guess I wait was worth it even though it put us an hour behind? It was also Sunday, the first day of “Running of the Bulls” part of San Fermin festival in Pamplona. So the bar was crowded with people watching the TV.
We were told by the Innkeeper that our walk would so much easier since it was flat. Roncesvalles has a rich history. Roland was a French military leader under Charlemagne during 8th century and led the war against the Basques across Roncesvaux pass and lost. On the way to Zubri through the forest you’ll see a gothic “Cross of the Pilgrims” representing King Sancho from 14th century.
Within 5 km you’ll come to the medieval village of Burguete – where its economy in the Middle Ages was based on pilgrim trade, shoe makers and barbers. 14th century most the town burned down.This Navarra region’s Sorginaritzaga Forest that we passed was called “Oakwood of Witches” was also famous for witchcraft in the 16th century and women were burned at the stake.
The writer Ernest Hemingway visited this village few times 1923-1959 and stayed at Hotel Burguete that still has his signature on the piano. He was inspired to write about the Navarra forests and San Fermin festival that influenced his book “The Sun also raises”.
We came across many villagers that were dressed in white and red clothing, returning from San Fermin festival at Pamplona only 20 km away. Walking through many villages the path was a steady and a quick ascend to Alto de Mezquiriz 955m and quick descend to Viskarret 750m where you have to be careful as the path was a slick paved concrete road. Without walking sticks you could tumble down and dangerous when wet. We stopped at Viskarret for lunch and tried the Navarran sausage bocadillo which was spicy with smoky paprika, delicious.
My temp basel at -50% was working like charm as I tested every hour during our walk and bolused 50% for my lunch. After lunch it was hard work – straight descend to 500m. The path was narrow and full of large boulders and rocks almost reminded me of dried up water bed – it was not easy to maneuver without actually stopping and taking few steps forward and stopping etc. Walking sticks or no walking sticks, this road down was downright brutal, one of the most dangerous descend, lot harder than yesterday as it was narrow and down.
At the bottom of the path we were pleasantly surprised to come to the village of Zubri – in Basque it means “Town of the Bridge” where everyone is greeted by the medieval bridge over river Agra.
Once you walk past the bridge you come to the tiny old town where there is not much except couple of alburges. We had to walk extra 1.5 km out of town to get to our hotel as the travel company that we had booked with wanted us to have a private room. Our hotel was a nondescript hotel but was pleasantly surprised at the Innkeepers lovely greetings and his complementary Cider drink from the bar cheered our tired body. He happily stamped our passports and even took our luggage to our room as most Innkeepers don’t.
After our shower we had no energy to walk back to the town so we decided to eat the bar of the hotel. Most of the people at the bar were all dressed in red/white were from San Fermin festival in Pamplona and were glued to the television looking at the festival highlights. For the first course we had Fish soup (endless ladles) followed by (lamb stew) slightly different style than yesterday’s and for dessert homemade Flan (Crème caramel) with Apple Cider wine – who knew it was a gastro pub, unforgettable! We counted our luck and slept like a baby.
Thought of the day: Totally loving being outdoors with nature all day feels like a dream.