A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Beautiful Navarre

It took me 2 days to walk the 44 km to the walled city of Pamplona, capital of Navarre and historic capital of the Basque Country. From Roncesvalles the route led easily along undulating paths which crossed 3 river valleys ( the Urrobi, the Erro and the Arga rivers) separated by the wooded high ground of the Alto de Mezquiriz and the Alto de Erro. In Burguete, the 1st village I went through, I bought bread and cheese and chorizo sausage, which I ate lying on a patch of grass near the Alto de Erro. It was a remote and beautiful sunny spot in front of a ruined inn (now a cattle shelter) at an altitude of 800m. A cyclist and a couple of pilgrims drifted by. For much of the day the trees had closed in, but from this high viewpoint you could see rolling wooded hills stretching as far as the horizon. Then I climbed down an entertaining rocky path into Zubiri.

Passing a malodorous magnesium extraction plant on the outskirts of this small town, I walked 5 km along the Arga valley to Larrosoana, which I entered over its medieval bridge. The albergue was right in the centre but unusually it had no kitchen (in the evenings pilgrims often prepared their own meals and shared them), so I ate a delicious dinner of Basque food and wine at a bar-restaurant just around the corner. There I saw again 2 lovely Spanish pilgrims, a brother and sister called Fernando and Tere (short for Teresa), whom I'd met in Roncesvalles and at other times throughout the day. I would keep bumping into them for the next 8 days - and with each encounter the delight at seeing each other increased, and the hugging and kissing got more ecstatic!

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