A Travellerspoint blog

July 2008

Pamplona -(Spain) Camino de santiago

Camino in the province of Navarre

rain -8 °C
View Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Spain) on The Islander's travel map.

Before we started our journey, I had kept a daily diary of our walk, the altitude of each village and town, its historical monuments etc, unfortunately this diary was lost in Santiago de Compostela. I suspect I left it either in the alberge where we stayed the first night, or it was left in the hostal where we stayed the next three nights. And since I get the address of this hostal in the diary itself, I could not contact the owner and to my regret, some details about the places will be from our memory.

The city of Pamplona was founded by the Roman General Pompey in 74 BC and although the Pilgrims' Way to Santiago in Navarre begins on the slopes of Pyrenean mountains at Luzaide/Valcarlos and reaches Orreaga/Roncesvalles, (which is, because of its mountainous rough and rocky way, one of the most difficult parts of the pilgrimage and many pilgrims who start there develop foot problems) it has become the starting point for thousands of pilgrims and is the most popular route. This is known as the French Route, the most important because of the number of pilgrims passing through it, crossing the region diagonally, passing Pamplona and exiting at Viana towards Logroño in the region of Rioja.

Our hostel in Pamplona was in the center of the city, we just went down the street and reached the Town Hall and Government office building and be in the Plaza del Cassstillo. The plaza is full of terraces and bars and cafes, from which the city's daily life can be observed. The neighbouring streets of San Nicolas, Estafeta and Calle Comida are full of typical Tapa Bars where you can have a variety of tapas and a selection of best Navarre wines and cold Cider, which is a popular drink.

We rested in our hostel room until 11.00am. Simply could not sleep, so we got ready to visit the city. The morning was cool and although it had stopped raining steadily, it was still drizilling and the city looked washed and quiet. There was not much traffic and we strolled down to have breakfast and to visit the city's historical monuments. The city of Pamplona is small but is full of plazas and parks, churches and the world famous annual San Fermin festival which starts from 6th July and lasts nine days, full of frollicking and singing and dancing in the streets, drinking wine and eating regional food and generally enjoying oneself. We had bocadillos de jamon cerrano, chorizo and tortilla de patatas, cool red wine and delicious coffee. In another bar a little later, we had cod crockets and fish stuffed with mushrooms, green pimiento and bechamel. Delicious.

As I said before, Pamplona has may parks, the oldest is Taconera Park, designed in 7th century, full of wide pedestrian paths and sculptures. The Town Hall is an outstanding building, its facade of Baroque architecture of XVIII century as are the Palacio Episcopal and the Seminary of St. John the Baptist. There are many churches in and around the city and the outstanding is the Gothic Cathedral with its beautiful Cloister and its neoclassical facade. Two more Gothic churches are of St. Sernin and st. Nicolas, both built during the XIII century. and worth a visit.

We went to the Plaza de Torros (Bull Ring) and I saluted the statue of Hemingway. The Hemingway bar in front of the Ring has, since many years, a new front, and a shinning metal door. The bar was closed, so I do not know if it still kept the empty wine barrels as tables on which were piled ceramic jugs of wine and tasty tapas by the waiters and the customers just went on eating and drinking. As many of you must know, Hemingway had a long love affair with Spain and Pamplona was one of his favorite cities. Papa Ernesto is well remebered for his drinking orgies, long and winding talks about bulls and bull fighters and he even wrote two novels about them. "Death in the Afternoon" and "Fiesta: The Sun also rises", powerful and intense novels about the society attached to the Corridas de Torros.

We also had a very intense and pleasant day in Pamplona and in the evening, tired but content, returned to our hostel and rest and sleep and be ready to start early our walk towards Santiago de Compstela.

Posted by The Islander 07:52 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Pamplona (Spain) Camino de santiago

Camino in the province of Navarre

rain 17 °C
View Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Spain) on The Islander's travel map.

So after spending the whole day in Barcelona, we returned to Sants railway station. It had been raining the whole evening and when we arrived at the station it was pouring down. During the day we had visited the Church of Apostal St.Jacobi (Apostal Santiago) and received our Credentials as pilgrims. To be a pilgrim and have access to albergues where you can spend the night, you have to be patronized by a church, at each Etapa (Stop) where you will stay the night, you will have your Credencial booklet stamped, which will allow access to the next albergue. These resting places "Albergues" are either run by local churches, muncipalities or privately and you can stay there only if you have the Credentials of a pilgrim. You can stay there only one night, charges vary between four to seven euros per person. Privately run places charge between seven to ten euros. Most places have facilities to wash your clothes and at some places you can even cook your food. These places, we found without exception, were clean with running hot water in the showers and clean toilets.

our train to Pamplona left Barcelona at eleven O'clock in the night and we reached our destination at five O'clock in the morning. We had booked our train tickets on the internet and could find only sitting accomodation. However, to our amazement, the whole train was empty, as was our compartment. So we took off our boots and stretched out on the seats. We could see through the window, the rain falling in sheets and it rained the whole night and the next morning when we reached Pamplona.

In the next carriage, there were only three african men travelling, one of them was wearing trousers and a shirt, and a metal crown on his head. I found this so funny that I asked him if I could their photo, but he declined. I have met many africans, known some of them personally. In Spain, in England and France, in Morocco and even in Germany and Holland I have seen them in their traditional dress. However, I had never seen one wearing trousers and shirt and a crown on his head, in a train in Spain, in the dead of the night.

Since we arrived so early in the morning, there was no chance of going to an albergue as they do not open before 11-12 O'clock, so we took a taxi (4 euro) and the taxi driver dropped us in the centre of the city at a hostal (45 euro for double bed). We switched on the TV and were dismayed to hear the news that during the night, it had rained heavely in Barcelona and in parts of France from where we had planned to start our walk. So we decided to start the next day from Pamplona and went to bed.

Posted by The Islander 00:06 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Barcelona- Spain. (Camino de Santiago)

Camino de Santiago in the province of Navarre

rain 16 °C
View Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Spain) on The Islander's travel map.

We arrived in Barcelona in the afternoon after three hours' flight from Dartmund. The weather was heavy and it was raining. The Barcelona airport was very busy, we picked up our backpacks and left the terminal building and walked over the bridge which connects it with the train station. There are automatic machines which dispense train tickets and there were railway staff who assist you, in your own language, to buy tickets from these machines. Very smooth and friendly service which we also found on every Underground (Metro) station. The train fare for two was 7.20 euros which allowed us 10 journeys on the trains and buses for that day.



From the airport we disembarked at Sants station. Our train to Pamplona was leaving at 23.00 hrs so we had the whole day on our hands. We checked our packs in the locker and took the Metro to Plaza Cataluña, the centre of the city and its famours Rambla de Flores. The Rambla has always been known for its stalls of Flowers and sellers of Birds in Cages, its Cafes, Tapa Bars and Rrestaurants and thousands of people promenading from one end to the other. However, I was dismayed to see very few stalls, the old and popular Cafes were replaced by Fast Food chains and Brand Name shops and Boutiques. Wherever you go, MacDonalds, KFC, Subway and Starbucks stare you in the face.
Another change was to see South Americans running bars. People from Uruguay, Argentina and other countries have settled in large numbers in Spain and it was not the same eating Spanish Tapas in these places. In fact we found only one typical Tapa Bar selling Galician tapas (Pinchos on a toothpick), in one of the side streets. But the city was full with tourists, young and old and streets were bustling with people in the heady atmosphere Barcelona has. In fact whole Spain is bustling with tourists and visitors. We had a coffee, a beer and three tapas and paid 20 euros. Expensive, and were further surprised at the high prices of food, when we started walking from Pamplona toward Santiago de Compostela.


I will write about Barcelona and its many attractions, at the end of my chronicle of our journey, when we stayed there for three days, on our return from Santiago,DSC04422.jpg and before our flight back to Germany.

Posted by The Islander 12:34 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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