A Travelogue

Friday, December 07, 2007

Day 3, August 27: Larrasuana to Cizur Menor (22 km; 5:15)

Janos and I decided that we would continue walking together. I’m not sure what drove this decision - he hardly knew any English and I don’t speak a word of Hungarian. But we had “talked” using a bit of English, sign language, and pen and paper, and genuinely enjoyed being together. Best of all, neither one of us was too interested in talking while walking.

The scenery from Larrasuana to Pamplona is spectacular. Mountain views, pine forests, dramatic trails following the river Arga, graceful manor houses, and typical three-story houses where the ground floors are for livestock, the first floor for people, and the top storey reserved for pigeons, abound.

Photo 218: The tiny town in the distance is Trinidad de Arre.

Photo 221: Rio Arga at Trinidad de Arre.

We stopped for lunch of pan (bread) and chorizo (spicy sausage) that we had bought at a mercado (grocery store) in Trinidad de Arre.

Photo 222: enjoying a hearty and well-deserved footlong ‘baguette’ stuffed with meats, similar to our Subways.

In recent history, this small city is best known as the birthplace of Spain’s cycling hero, Miguel Indurain.

It’s a pleasant five kilometre walk mostly along the river Arga to the 14th century bridge, Puente de Magdalena,

Photo 223: The bridge Puente de Magdalena crossing the Rio Arga at Pamplona dates back to the 14th century.

that marks the entrance to Pamplona, famous for its annual running of the bulls. We decided to digress from the Camino to view the Plaza de Toros, made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel, “The Sun Also Rises”. His statue graces the main entrance to the bullfighting ring.

Photo 224: statue of Papa Hemingway at Plaza de Toros. That's him on the right.

It’s a further five kilometres to Cizur Menor. This was a pleasant walk - except for the long, gradual uphill in searing 35 degree heat. We decided to stop at the first of the two albergues, where a lovely young lady was waiting for the albergue to open.

“What’s your name and where do you come from?” I asked.

“Krisztina from Hungary”, she replied in English.

I ran to meet Janos who was just arriving. “There has been a miracle! I have just met a girl from Hungary.” I’m not sure that he understood what I was trying to say but as soon as I introduced them I knew that finally I would understand what Janos had been trying to say for the last two days!

It turned out that it was her 31st birthday, so we promptly hustled her to the nearest bar where we celebrated with a bottle of wine (or perhaps more).

Photo 231: Janos and Krisztina at our impromptu celebration of her 31st birthday.

For dinner we had the menu de peregrino (pilgrim’s menu) at a local restaurant. Unfortunately for the primer plato, (first course), I selected a noodle soup where they had either forgotten to use stock or it was a pasta where they had forgotten to use a colander. The segundo plato, was meat balls. Both the meat and sauce were incredibly salty to the point where it was almost inedible. Only hunger drove me to eat it. Fortunately, the dessert, a homemade cake in plum sauce, was great. In retrospect this turned out to be the only bad meal that I had throughout the Camino. While dessert was being served I got all of the peregrinos (there were about 30 of us) to sing "Happy Birthday” to Krisztina. She was very touched.

Photo 235: And yet another birthday toast. There can never be too many, right?

Later in the evening, we returned to the church associated with the albergue (the order of Malta) where we joined the hospitalero in singing some old folk standards. I thought to myself, "I wonder if we are going to sing Kumbaya".

Photo 236: Enjoying a relaxing evening of gentle folk music led by our hospitalero.

Now we were three!

Photo 242: Krisztina with her ever-ready bright smile.

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