Santiago Shuffle

Boom baby! Longest day yet on the Camino complete with smiles and jokes still in play! We walked from Palas de Rei to Arzua yesterday – a mere 29.4km or 44,635 Fitbit steps over 8hours that may or may not have included a beer / wine and French fries stop!

The day began at about 7am as our hostel came to life with all the pilgrims excited or nervous perhaps to get their day started! We are close to Santiago now with most finishing within the day and you can feel a difference in the energy.

After leaving our extra duffel with the heavy stuff in the designated mochilla (backpack) pick up spot we hit the path. It was get it a ride to Arzua – we were walking it.

There was a local restaurant that bragged of their churros and chocolate (a Spanish breakfast treat) that I was keen to give a try. Well turns out they didn’t have any yesterday morning. Boo! So we moved on to another cafe – but my churro hunt continues!

We ended up in La Pulperia Cafe / Bar just blocks away and loved it. The bartender and waiter were high energy and they had the most amazing and massive Croissant Napoletana (aka chocolate croissant) and steaming hot cafe con leche for us! We added a banana to make it healthy of course.

With a coffee and chocolate spring in our step we headed out of town and towards our destination of Arzua!

The path was great today – easy under foot as the guidebook said with lots of short ups and downs to keep the muscles limber. It was a bit cloudy in the morning but warm when the wind was down, so pretty perfect walking weather. Here are some highlights pre-afternoon break:

We were delayed slightly by a wee farmer moving his cow crew from one pasture to another … seems a regular occurrence based on this happening two days in a row and the vast amount of dried ‘stuff’ on the path!

Oh and again delayed by an impromptu and of course very important photo shoot …

Finally at about 1230pm and 20km in we hit an awesome cafe called El Aleman in Boente. It was a great little place with lots of pilgrims and energy and the coldest, best tasting beer and vino blanco (white wine) we ever had – not to mention the fries!

After some proactive foot care and some much needed sunscreen for me (wow the sun is baking hot here), the afternoon continued with some great sights and a few tough slogs as the kms started to add up and the temp kicked it up a notch!

By 430 we were at our great hostel Via Lactea in Arzua and getting freshened up for dinner out. We threw some laundry in so had to chill at a bar across the street while we waited for the washer to complete (hard life I know!) and couldn’t resist another photo shoot and to try the local Arzua cheese!

One of my favourite things to watch during our post walk pint is the Santiago Shuffle as we have named it … the way pilgrims walk, shuffle, limp, drag their bodies about for an evening meal after they have showered and start to feel just how sore they and their feet are from the say’s walk. Makes my Santiago Shuffle a little less noticeable or at least normal! Haha

Once the laundry was hung to dry, we headed out to find some supper. Lead astray by the tourist information guy, we added a couple extra kms to our day before finding Le Churreria for our interesting pilgrim’s supper!

We started with bread and white wine, then you pick a first plate or starter. I chose Arroz de Cubana (which we now know means rice with tomato sauce, 2 fried eggs and some miniature hotdogs) and the dried ribs and chips for plate 2 or the main course. Lana started with lasagna and then finished with spicy pork and chips. We both got cheesecake and coffee too, and a bottle of wine (to share). The food was interesting if not good and way too after such a hot and long day – we were both tired and looking forward to our beds truth be told.

Back at our humble abode we discovered this hostel was not as good as we hoped. There are only half walls between each of the rooms and the hallway – do any pilgrim going to the bathroom, talking, snoring, laughing or even rolling over in the squeaky wooden bunk beds was in stereo. Yikes. We we both up till 11 which was a couple hours later than usual for us pilgrims and up early this morning due to the cacophony of alarms and backpack sounds that prevented sleep beyond 5am-ish.

The life of a pilgrim is an interesting one – you go with the flow mostly but do create your own when you can. So this morning we are up with the flow but will take our steps, our Way today and that hopefully includes chocolate and churros!

We will check in from Pedrouzo in 20km!

Buen Camino!


More and More

Well there you have it – another day on the Camino complete here in Spain.

An easy stroll (as per the guidebook) from Portomarin to Palais de Rei in just 24.6km (39,984 FitBit steps) in about 5hrs.

Leaving the hostel at 8am after a beyond big and humid and horrible sleep – we began the day with an amazing eggs and bacon breakfast complimented with a much needed coffee.

The hostel was great, don’t get me wrong – the humid hell of the room was sort of out their control. Thee was a dog and a rooster up the street making a racket all night and one of our other 6 roomies shut the window turning the place into a sauna within an hour. Yuck. The hostel owner was a riot – quite the busy body with his introductions to the house rules, demonstrations of everything including how the plug-ins work, and his need to have us add the dates to all the stamps in our pilgrim’s credential before he would stamp it for us! Any other day this would have humoured us – as it was we were standing sweating with heavy packs on in the sauna hostel and he needed to get on with it lol

Our hostel:

Our breakfast:

At about 845am, the boots hit the trail with a number of small villages dotting the route ahead. This means you don’t have to carry much water and food is easy to find so you don’t need to carry much of that either – yahoo less to carry, is less weight in the pack, is happy feet!

The trail in the morning was a long uphill then quite a bit of time in the cold, cold wind at a higher elevation. By the look of the sky and bite of the wind, I was sure it was going to rain, but the Yahoo Weather App was right again – no rain. Yahoo!

Beyond the cold, the trail was not too exciting. Sadly, it was a lot of walking beside the main highway and among the crowds of pilgrims.

We have for sure noticed a couple things in the last 2 days as we near ‘the end’ in Santiago … there are more and more pilgrims and more and more garbage on the trail and more and more pilgrim graffiti. I am not impressed with any of this of course but it is the Way, not my Way so I keep on walking and try not to judge those around me for dropping their KitKat wrappers or writing ‘see you in Santiago, Bill’ on Camino way markers. Hmmm

Trail highlights of the morning:

By afternoon the clouds had blown over but the pilgrim crowds were still pretty thick – it was far and few between that there was a gap in the trickle of other walkers. Neat to notice more people walking to Santiago with their dogs, and a few full out long distance runners to Santiago too.

Some highlight from the afternoon:

At about km 17 or so, a cafe con leche was in order and some proactive foot love. The dust of the path was getting my sweaty feet gritty, so some glide was needed before grit turned to rub which turns to blister. A switch over from running socks to compression socks also helped keep the dogs from barking too loud.

Oh and I met a friend too! Yesterday it was a wee kitty and today … a chicken.

Before resuming the path, a traffic jam had to clear up .so I took my time (waiting for the crowd/herd to clear and the patties to dry a little on the road before I was the one to step in it) ….

By 3pm we were toasting another awesome day from a sunny pub in the village square of Palas de Rei, listening to church bells, and making decisions about what to have for dinner.

Our evening ended with a bit of excitement – we were getting ready to tuck into bed when our hostel last night (Albergue Castro) advised we were given the wrong beds. So in pajamas, we packed our gear and moved down a few floors. To a much smaller room actually which I love! Only 4 beds not 6 as we had been in, which means only 3 potential people to keep me up snoring all night instead of 5. On the Camino these are the little things you celebrate!

At least we got beds at Albergue Castro, our original booking at Albergue San Marcos was a bust. They were very rude about me not calling to confirm the day before and basically kicked me out saying ‘goodby, good bye’ when I tried to check in. Some nice lady heard this and said they paid for 6 beds but now only need 4 and we could have the other 2. The San Marcos meanie said no and some other things I couldn’t translate and again said to me ‘good bye’ (a word she clearly knows in English as she uses it a lot). Well in Camino fashion this means we were not meant to stay there, so we found the place we should – Albergue Castro, and we had a great sleeps. Thanks very much San Marcos grumpy lady.

Ok off to Arzua – just a quick 29km away in 24C clears skies and thank goodness humidly below 50%. We will check in later.

Beun Camino!

Taxi, Train, Walk

Yesterday Lana and I got back to walking the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) after a couple of amazing sight seeing days.

We were up before the crack of dawn (not joking, it was still dark outside) for a 5am train from Leon to Sarria where we would resume our pilgrimage. The train ride was 4hrs but in our first class seats where you could near totally recline, were provided with water, sleep masks, blankets and ear plugs we were only awake for about an hour of it. If only our flights to France and home from Portugal would be so comfortable!!

Arriving in Sarria we adjusted our packs, I transitioned from flip flops to sneakers (lots of asphalt roads in our walk today) and then we made our way to the Monastery of Magdalena about a km away. Here we were leaving a duffel bag of our heavy stuff like toiletries for transport to the albergue we stayed in last night in Porto Marin.

Why? No joke, Lana’s feet are in a bad way. She is a blister bandaid (compeed) advert! We are pulling all the stops to get her to a place where she can walk and enjoy it and that means diff shoes, less weight, compression socks, you name it. When every single step hurts, everyday is absolutely no fun. Usually Lana and I are total geeks together with jokes and antics – and sore feet make that really tough to be. So we are getting things sorted! We have weeks left to walk and we will be laughing till we cry again soon!

Well there was a wee mess up with the transport company. After a few telephone conversations in my less than adequate Spanish – we finally had the bag picked up at 11am. Instead of 930am as planned. Almost a couple of hours later than we wanted but hey we both had packs pounds lighter than before and we were ready for an awesome day and our first, much delayed cafe con leche in 3.7km in the next village of Balderado.

After that first coffee – we were spiced right up and getting silly already!

The day continued with walk and walk and walk on really easy paths and only some uphill but some lengthy downhill that timers the big toes ringing. It was over 30 degrees and we were roasting but loving it.

Much of what we walked though in the morning at least was farm land, and in this heat well it smells worse than you can imagine – we had a ready solution.

We pulled into a baby cafe about half way through the day for the yummiest sandwiches and the biggest coffee we have had yet! Oh and we met a new friend, wee gato. He very much loved the meat on our sandwiches.

The afternoon was well full of walking – imagine that. At about 22km we arrived in PortoMarin, a very small village organised around the main square and church (pretty standard for Europe).

We toasted the end of a great day, and enjoyed the local traditional fare – some Galicia broth soup (leeks, chick peas and potatoes) followed by some pulpos (octopus) and potatoes for the main course. Then some local desserts a flan (like our creme caramel) and a Santiago tart (chewy, thin cake). It was interesting and actually quite tasty but I don’t think I need to order it again.

Off to Palais de Rei this morning!

Beun Camino

Leon Lives Up to Burgos!

Well Leon had what it takes to compete with the beautifulness (is that a word?) of Burgos! While not quite as movie set / Disneyland Main Street in its perfection, the sights of central Leon are definitely something to see.

We started our day of Leon with another one of those amazing 7euros breakfast deals and then a quick taxi down to the centre.

Right from the taxi ride it was fun. Our driver was going down little side streets and alleys that we were sure no car was meant to be on or anyone but the locals knew about. Then ‘bam’ there we were right in from of the cathedral. I felt like we were on a special making of the next Italian Job movie.

The cathedral of Leon is awe inspiring. It has the most stain glass of any cathedral in Spain and I feel like I read maybe even in Europe. There is in fact more glass ‘wall’ than stone wall in the place – might explain a few collapses 100s of years ago. Just saying. But I am no architect.

Here is the outside of this amazing cathedral:

Amazing right!? And that’s only some of my way too many photos which I will clearly need to pare down before scrap booking when I get home. Well now check out the inside:

For 5euros you have almost the run of the place. You can sit in the pews, take photos, get the audio little things and listen to the cathedral’s history, and really take your time absorbing the place. And wow are your first steps inside impressive – the initial first view may or may not have resulted in one of us uttering holy ‘poop’ in a church! Oops and yikes!

After our tour of the cathedral, we set out to walk about and take in the rest of the old central part of Leon – the palace, other churches, Gaudi’s works and more. Here are just some of the highlights:

Shortly after asking this rather unhelpful guy for directions …

We decided to check out the eat and drink highlights of Leon. A pint at El Topo first, a quaint restaurant outside the cathedral that we just loved the look and feel of. We later returned to this very place for a coffee. They had wifi and every time you ordered a drink (alcoholic or coffee or whatever) you got some tapas. That was our lunch! Deal!

Around 6pm, we finally toasted to a great time in Leon with a final Amstel Radler pint (cervaza con limon) at a place called Ginger. Because well we also loved the look of this pub and the tables and chairs were siting right in the sun which we love too.

By 7pm we were back at the hotel packing up and getting ready for our 5am train this morning which will take us over to Sarria in 4hours where we begin to walk again, a 22km jaunt today.

But first we had dinner … a red from the Rioja region (thanks Lana for the intro to this amazing Spanish wine region) opened with a cheap plastic hotel corkscrew, salad out of a bag, meat we opened with our first-aid kit scissors, all served on a city map of Leon as our placemat / cutting board / plate.

All in all, Leon was a total hit!


Bye Bye Burgos, Hello Leon

Well sadly all good things must come to an end … and our time in beautiful Burgos did just that yesterday afternoon.

We had a 15:25 train from Burgos to our next sight seeing / break from walking day in Leon this time. We were primed to make the best of our amazing treat hotel and city though for the morning before departing.

To kick things off, we enjoyed quite thoroughly a breakfast for kings! The breaky buffet at the hotel was 7euros and check out our feast below. Crazy to think this is what we can get for 7euros in one place, but only get a piece of toast with jam and coffee or juice in another place for 5euros. We will be keeping our eyes open for deals like this from here on! Big breaky means skip lunch means save money!

After we stuffed ourselves quite completely. We put our packs in the left luggage room and ventured the old city again.

We headed in the direction of the massive chapel and came upon some stone stairs heading up to a hill above the city with a sign marked Castillo (castle) – ok! Slowly, being mindful this was a tourist day not a hump it up hills day, we made it up and up to a birds eye view of the city streets we had walked the night before. Here are a few of the pics up to and from the castle heights:

From up here for the first time we heard the Sunday bells from the massive chapel – wow is about all I can say to describe them. They are rung for 15mins every hour on Sundays and are just amazing. Like give you goose bumps amazing. From up high they sounded so smooth and combined but then from close to the cathedral you could pick out each individual bell. Depending where you stood in the plaza they sounded different again. The echo of the bells off the high buildings and stone was making a few dogs in town a little crazy. One poor pouch was going in circles barking trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. Hilarious. I posted a video recording of the bells on my Instagram @brandedavison if you want to hear them.

We could not resist a few more pics of the cathedral and plaza in the morning light as we walked around the area enjoying the bells:

Finally we enjoyed our last Burgos cafe con leche (coffee with milk) outside of our amazing hotel:

We made our way by bus #25 from Plaza de Espana over to the train station and then by train for 2 hours over to Leon. We had a bit of a wait so got some sunshine naps in first!

Before departing we had our final Burgos entertainment … a guy who was a bit sketch and carrying 2 backpacks was told by security to exit the train station as he did not have a ticket. Well wouldn’t you know it as soon as our train pulled in, the sketch guy dropped one bag and went barreling for the nearest open train door – knocking the poor ole security guard down and almost between the train and the platform in the process. Sketch guy hid somewhere in the train and they could not find him. So he did end up getting the free ride to Leon he was looking for in the first place. Gong show!

Any who, the train trip itself was a really nice way to see the landscape change from green Burgos to dry Leon. We left the chilly wind, humidity, high of 21C in Burgos and stepped of the train into the dry heat of 34C of Leon. We were happy to leave that oppressive, soggy humidity behind.

We are super excited to explore Leon today. Will it stand up to Burgos? The bar is set pretty high!! Stay tuned to find out …


Beautiful Burgos

Yesterday was a purpose built break day from walking for us – and instead a fabulous, perfect and an altogether wow day in Burgos, Spain!

Our Camino Adventure has been planned around the sections of the Camino in Spain and in Portugal we want to walk AND being able to spend a day in Paris (complete), a day in Burgos (complete), a day in Leon (on our way), and some days in Porto, Lisbon and Lagos too. A well rounded adventure really!

Yesterday was our Burgos day and here are really just a few of the highlights from the day and the beautiful city ..

First it started with a real breakfast. No, no we didn’t find a albergue who knew what a breaky protein was – rather we took matters into our own hands and made our own breakfast in the shared kitchen. Mmmm eggs and meat and cheese and yum!

Then we headed down to the bus station to catch the 50min bus from Estella to Pamplona – while waiting we had our first coffee con leche (latte) of the day in the sunshine.

From the bus station in Pamplona we grabbed a quick taxi over to the Pamplona train station for a 2hr train to Burgos. The weather in Pamplona was 21 but it was cloudy and felt freezing – we were keen to train it outta there to warmer Burgos climate! A fleece in Spain in September felt just wrong!

Reaching Burgos it was a quick 30min bus into the main, ole central part of the city. We soon found out it was basically the most gorgeous city ever. I felt like we were on some amazing moving set or a Spanish version of Main Street in Disneyland. Honest, check these out:

After meeting a few locals we made our way to a front row table in the main plaza (Plaza Mayor) to do some people watching and sight seeing via chair with wine glass.

There was a wedding in that massive church and they were going crazy with firecrackers and streamers and confetti when the bride and groom came out – it was awesome, much more fanfare than the adorable bubbles at my wedding which I loved! Shortly after, the 100s of people at the wedding came walking though the plaza all dressed to the 9s. We enjoyed the fashion show while sipping a red for me and white for Lana.

We wrapped up our evening with a small dinner (tongue in cheek) at La Mafia – yup an Italian place in Spain with The Godfather as their logo. Who could resist!

Oh and did I mention we kicked it up a notch and treated ourselves to a real hotel!?

It is just amazing! No other pilgrim sounds, our very own bathroom, we could spread our stuff out, had a key to a door not a disposable sheet to a bed handed to us when checking in. Our view from a baby terrace was amazing (one of the pics above). Luxury really! And oh the sleep was amazing – I feel like a new women / pilgrim!

We are up and at em again today for a morning here in Burgos then the evening in Leon as tourists before returning to pilgrims tomorrow.

Buen Camino!

101, 22, 21, 13, 7 and 15

Another beautiful day on the Camino complete here in Spain yesterday!

And nope the title of this blog post is not lottery numbers (well I guess they could be if you were so inclined). Rather they are the # of pilgrims passed on the route yesterday, the # of kilometres walked and the temp yesterday, the # of locals passed on the route and the # of snails who crossed my path yesterday, and the # of big bites I have that we are still trying to find the source of.

All in all, I am just glad none of those snails passed ME! Oh goodness that reminds me of Lana joking on the first day (the brutal uphill trial by Camino fire) that she was slow up the hills and some slug was like ‘hey passing on the left’ as it “sped” past her. Ha ha! A laugh we needed so bad at that exact moment.

Any who, the route yesterday was from Puenta La Reina to Estella, 22kms or 42,137 Fitbit steps and it was meant to be an easy no incline / no decline stroll from the elevation map. That was not exactly true. There were some serious hump it up and up and up spots in my mind. Granted my legs are feeling these 20+km days so I may just be fatigued and those hills were but mere speed bumps to the average pilgrim.

The day started with this amazing view of Puenta La Reina (Lana took this amazing pic):

And continued with the amazing beauty this path offers! Some highlights of the route were:

Making it to Estella for 1pm made for an awesome afternoon and evening. Lana and I hit up a pub in a busy plaza (the classic European square) for a Spanish spin on Radler Beer and some raciones (like tapas but not called tapas here in this region). Cheese ball things, baked bacon of sorts and some kind of cheeseburger slider thingy. Mmmm

Then headed up (another darn hill!) to our albergue to chill and do some laundry. With only one maybe two of everything like shirts and such you do as much laundry as walking it seems! Once the laundry was done, we did a freshen up and headed back down to town for some groceries.

After a grocery shop, a pharmacy stop for some cream for my bug bites (?), we accidentally also got a pizza for dinner … we ordered a delicious soft goat cheese with tomatoes and arugula pizza and a ceasar salad but ended up with a ceasar pizza of sorts. Looks like I should have practiced my Spanish a bit more. It worked out though. While scary in concept the pizza was actually amazing in taste!

Full and happy, I loaded up on allergy pills and allergy cream to try and get these bug bites or hives or something at bay so I could get some sleep. So itchy and sore! What a sleep it was, we had our own little twin bed room again and it was awesome! Snore galore!

Today we are up and at em heading for a tourist day in Burgos. But first a bus to Pamplona then a train to get there. Yahoo a no walking day – our feet are thankful!


One Bridge Too Far

Yesterday was another great day on the Camino for this duo. We walked from Pamplona to Puenta La Reina which is just over 23km or 39,289 Fitbit steps.

Our day started as usual it seems with poor sleep, too many pilgrim body sounds recalled from the night prior, some white toast and jam and very strong coffee. The life of these pilgrims so far but we are still loving it!

We left our humble abode at 8:15am and commenced the day with a 5km walk though Pamplona. Along the way we had our cameras ready to capture a few sights:

When we hit the next town Cizur Menor we had already added another stamp to our Pilgrim Passport (thank you Universidad de Navarre), discovered how amazing and light you feel switching from boots to runners, and had a few laughs. Not bad for 5km!

When we hit a section of path that required boots, we would take a welcome break and switch them up. We were light as feathers with our sneakers – ok not really light with our packs still on but that’s what we kept telling ourselves. Especially after we ate our bananas about mid morning and further lightened our load.

Around 930 or so the proof of the ‘there is a big climb after Puenta La Reina’ came into view. This was all the talk at the albergue (hostel) and we were a bit confused. Sure the elevation map looked like we had a high blip but so much talk was a bit much especially when you compare anything to the climb of day one. As came around a bend in Cizor Menor we saw the windmill hill we were going up and over. It was a good one for sure and worth some pilgrim chatter but nothing these two pilgrims couldn’t handle.

Up and up we went over some amazing trail, largely across or beside farmer’s fields. Many that were wheat already harvested but some were all sunflowers. Had we walked maybe a few weeks ago I think it would have been a sea of yellow but by end of August, the sunflowers were scorched from the sun and not quite as picturesque. I felt for them – I was feeling the same way in the hot Spanish sun!

The highlight was coming over the ridge to find one of the most photographed pilgrim monuments on the Camino. We were pretty high up at this point (about 900m) as high as we had to climb that day. The wind was harsh and the wind turbines were all around us loud and looming. Once in a while you had to brace agains a gust of wind. But this did not prevent a photo opportunity for us gals! Including a reenactment of my favourite part of the movie, The Way. If you have see it, you will know instantly this scene. If you haven’t seen it, it’s amazing and you should!

The afternoon was down hill literally for the most part with some small ups – but generally easy walking and the weather continued to hold off any rain and give us long pockets of sunshine!

Mid afternoon when the tummies where grumbling for chow we stopped in for a couple of coffees in a town called Uterga. Well it turned into a massive lunch (I finally got some eggs and served with fries, come on! yahoo!) and a small ice cold cervaza. Mmmm

We walked the last 6km into Puenta La Reina maybe a little slower after that amazing meal but it was fun all the same! As we came through towns we took some pics and as we came by churches I took a peek inside. They are a welcome break from the heat and give you a peace boost!

Following a short back track (couple blocks) as I read the map wrong we were at our albergue. This is my second time in a week messing the map – not bad for being tired in mind and body and distracted and excited by all the new stuff around me. Not sure our feet agree lol

An evening of showers, journaling on the amazing terrace in the evening sun, a cold pint and some pilgrim’s food wrapped up the day for us.

We have a twin room tonight – so just me and Lana in our little individual twin beds with an amazing little balcony. So we will get much needed sleep (that’s so exciting I may not sleep) and a chance to air our ‘smelling like backpack’ clothes in the evening breeze.

Another amazing day on the Camino.

Buen Camino!

Running of the Pilgrims

Yesterday we walked from Zubiri to Pamplona. A wonderful walk with some tough inclines, some veritable death trap declines and some easy strolls over 21km (37,865 steps). Just enough trail variation to keep you guessing what would be around the corner.

We began our day at 545am which you would think is early but so far is about the time we have been laying in bed waiting from the rest of the dorm to wake up so we could make an exit without waking everyone. I don’t think we are on the right time zone yet OR maybe going to bed by 9pm dog tired has something to do with it OR maybe listening to everyone snore all night makes you wanna just get the hell outta there!

By 615am I was down in the hostel living room working on a blog post and by 645 Lana and I were enjoying our breakfast. Breaky was included with the bed cost and it was, to be blunt, a disappointment but not at all surprising … basically a piece of very hard toast, jam (a choice of strawberry or peach), margarine, coffee or tea, and juice. Our albergue, Hazel Sticks, also included cafeteria fruit cocktail and some cornflakes. Oh and everyone got a piece of cake. Again I ask, where is this famous Spanish egg and potato omelet I keep hearing about!? Oh or maybe the churro with chocolate treat others fav for breaky?

Once breakfast wrapped up, we finished getting ready, published a blog post for you all, I filled water bladder and we were on our way. See yah Hazel Sticks of Zubiri and bring on Pamplona!

Our day started nice and easy. Lots of adjustments to make to boots and socks but we made great time. Passing town by town hoping to make it to Pamplona before the rain which was looming in the forecast and the sky began.

A quick highlight reel via photo for you:

Today we didn’t stop into any cafes for coffee and instead enjoyed our lunch in Irotz about half way and sat on a half stone wall in the amazing sunshine while we gave our bodies a break from our packs and our feet a break from the trail.

Once rested up a bit and bellies full, we were on our way again. The afternoon included a tough slog up and that don’t get any easier as the sun gets hotter. We were at 28C in the afternoon. Hot for sure but I was happy to be putting on sunscreen not my rain jacket.

Afternoon highlight reel:

Well the last 5+km were tough for sure – as great as Pamplona is there is just something exhausting about walking through a city compared to the country trail. There are benefits though I will admit! Like switching from boots to sneakers and being distracted by the sights and all you wanna capture on camera!

Just a few of the pics from Pamplona for you:

Yes that last one is from an awesome candy store and yes I may have added just a wee bit of weight to my pack in sour gum balls – hey burning that many calories in a day deserves a little pick me up, guilt free!

We enjoyed a yummy dinner that was altogether way to white so had to be followed by some red at the hostel as we wrapped up the day with showers, some social media time and journaling. This is usually when Lana and I sit and laugh our faces off by recalling the antics of the day as we scroll though pics!

By 9pm we were in our space pods and ready for a good night sleep! And I literally mean space pod, look at our beds:

Well that good night sleep was actually worst night sleep. Who knew space pods were also snore and fart amplifiers! A personal body sound speaker! Not ok!

Get me outta here and on the trail to Puenta La Reina!


The Santiago Slog

Today we walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port France to Ronscevalles Spain covering 23km (or 42,208 steps as per Fitbit).A day of slogging it up and across the Pyrenees Mountains.

We felt every step of this day, let me tell you! But before I get into my aching feet and bones and muscles and well, aching everything – let me tell you about our awesome pilgrim hostel in Saint Jean and a bit more about our actual route and the sights!

We started with a wee breakfast at our hostel La Coquille Napoleon in Saint Jean. We were served orange juice, coffee with milk, baguette, yogurt, butter and jam. I have been off all sugar and any carbs for a while so this was like breakfast of candy for me! Yum! Buzzing! Beyond the yummy breakfast the place was great – interesting but great. When we checked in the night prior we were greeted by 3 chihuahuas, a bunch of chickens, a rooster, 2 cats, a 3 year old boy and the proprietor; a very French man who was incredibly disappointed we were not French Canadians.

Regardless of our unfortunate Canadian-ness he showed us our bunks in the coolest little build-on from their home (12 bunks in a room and only 4 of us staying) then he told us how things should be over a welcome glass of wine .. well rather how he says things will go for us as per him! He was hilariously bossy really – had an answer for everything and spoke only sparing English. He told us we were not to set an alarm he would knock at 7am, we had to walk to Roncesvalles or he would ridicule us (which he literally did to the 2 people staying that were stopping in Orisson before Roncesvalles), that it was daft to book ahead at places to stay, to never eat where you sleep it will ruin your sleep, and no more wifi after last night, etc. We found him quite funny and the place was amazing – if you could get past the cat that was eating on the table next to the chain saw also on the table or his kid trying to hit me with his toys while yelling at me like maybe a dinosaur?! Great place, comfy bed and an awesome story! Recommend!

At 8am we literally walked out his front door and we were on the Route de Napoleon – the road / trail we would be slogging on for the day. We were fresh and excited to get our Camino on!

The route quickly put us in our place! We went from less than 200m altitude to 1,550m and then back down to 950m in a long 8.5 hours. While honestly quite tough we were still so amazed at the view as we climbed higher! Check out my Instagram @brandedavison for some videos!

I was so grateful for two things – beyond the views and the amazing opportunity to be here. 1) the guide book was so bang on with the information on if the route was a road or a trail. I wore my sneakers for the first 5 hours and felt so light and nimble. Then the trail switched to off road and I switched for my boots. My feet were super comfy with the switch and moving my boots to my feet made my pack 3.6lbs lighter at the same time. Just when I needed it!

The day finished with a wretched downhill of 3.6km that was not fun at all – my feet had a pulse, my legs kept giving out but we hung in there and with maybe not smiles but at least pride waltzed into Roncesvalles dusty, sweaty and keen for showers.

We are now out for a congrats pint and then to dinner provided by our Albergue (pilgrim hostel)! It’s a super old monestary that has been refurbished as a hostel. Wow!