Thursday, 23 June 2016

Day 5 Estella to Los Arcos

Today we walked from Estella to Los Arcos, a distance of 22.48kms.  We are spending the night at Pension Los Arcos.  

Because today was a long day, and to beat the heat, we left our hotel just before 06:30 this morning.  This posed an unexpected problem... the hotel was locked, and we couldn't find a person to let us out!  Eventually Paula hit on the idea of making our way to the underground parking to see if that was open, so we did that and found a button to push to open the garage door, which we did and then ran like hell to get out before it shut on us.  A rather hilarious start to the day!!  After that we had a very pleasant walk out of town, through the deserted streets.

We noticed this restaurant called "Durban" on our way out of town (see below) - would love to know the story behind that!  (We live in a city called "Durban")

Our first stop today was the much anticipated wine fountain at Bodegas Irache.  There are two taps, one serving wine, the other water.  Pilgrims are invited to take a sip of wine free of charge.  It was before 07:00, but we each had a sip - it would have been rude not to......right?

The path was quite busy this morning, I think everyone was hoping to get an early start to avoid the mid-day heat.

The path continued on pleasant wooded pathways for quite some distance.

A silly thing, but Paula gave me the giggles sometime after the below photo was taken.  I am not a great fan of gravelly or rocky downhills- I have an over-developed fear of falling, so I always take them REALLY slowly and carefully and I use my hiking poles a lot.  Paula was waiting for me at the bottom of the hill - very patiently - as I arrived, with a completely blank expression on her face, she looks at me and says "I no longer have to wonder what you will look like with a zimmer-frame."  That just cracked me up!

We stopped for our picnic breakfast at a little village called Azqueta.  It was the perfect place to stop because it was after a bit of a climb but before a big climb. We met the most adorable cat, who disliked cookies, but loved lemon cake.

Loved this house with the vine growing up it.

13th century Gothic Fountain of the Moors - restored in 1991
Our next stop was at Villamayor de Monjardin, at the top of the big climb, where we had a cooldrink and a loo-stop.  The rest of the days walking was gentle downhills and flats.  It was relatively easy going, but very, very hot. I struggled with my feet a lot as the day wore on, so we had plenty of stops and I changed my shoes a couple of times.  Towards the end we found a shady spot and took our shoes off and lay in the shade for a while.  Astoundingly there was a German? gentleman walking in a thick jacket - I honestly don't know how he was still alive! I can only think he was trying to avoid sunburn... but heavens, the heat!  He did seem to be smoking something a bit dodgy the one time we passed him, so perhaps he was a bit spaced out and hadn't noticed that he was perishing in heat in the upper 30 degrees C....?

There was this couple playing the most amazing music along the way.  It was too beautiful.  I have no idea why, but it got me tearing up a bit.  (There's something faulty about me, I tear up when I hear the national anthem too...)

It's customary to greet other pilgrims along the way by saying "Buen Camino" - literally translated "Have a good Camino".
I found it pretty tough going after that point, my feet were really sore.  Paula (who has inherited my foot problem and also has to wear orthotics) was also really struggling with her feet.

We arrived at our pension (after Google maps led us the loooong way around!  Argh!) feeling rather hot and bothered, but elated that we had conquered our first 20km+.  The proprietor of the pension was a very friendly fellow, who gave us free ice-cold bottled waters.  Once settled in our room, Paula and I immediately iced our feet, took some arnica pills and settled in for a good rest, while Grant (give that man a Bells!) went in search of lunch.  One of Paula's feet swelled quite alarmingly at this point, which really had us worried about the next day's walk.

After a good long rest we felt strong enough to head out to see the incredible Church of St Mary of the Arches, my photos don't do it justice at all,  Really a beautiful church and the cloisters outside, surrounding a courtyard of rose bushes were amazing. It was well worth the walk.  

We then had a lovely Pilgrims meal at Restaurant Mavi, before heading back to our pension and a well-deserved sleep.

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