Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On to Estella

Hello, everyone.
We stepped off at our usual (early) time on Saturday from Puente la Reina, walking on another brisk, chilly morning with clouds. I was wearing the pink fleece top from Caminoteca a lot, usually with a thin shirt under it. The day, according to my little notebook, was not really memorable until we got to our stopping point: Estella.
Estella has a prettily carved fountain at the entrance to the town, with a scallop shell and a poem and other carvings. You can see from the other photo that Estella is in a bilingual area: Spanish and Basque. The snack that you have with wine is not Tapas here, it's Pintxos. And the soups are called Sopa, not Caldo.
Estella also has a tourist information office! We picked up the little map they handed out. We stayed at the St. Michael Parish albergue. My feet were still painful and we were low on bandages for them, so after Saturday evening Mass, and the pilgrims' blessing, we tried to find a farmacia. There were none open--and we found three. All closed on Saturday afternoons. We did find a Camino hikers' supply store and my sweetie got me a new Buff to wear. (The old one having run away from me, I had no neck scarf.) This one has the map of the Camino route printed on it.

After giving up on the bandages idea, we decided to eat dinner and went to the main square. There were several eating places scattered around the edges of it, plus an "American style diner" by the bandstand in the middle. All of the eating places around the edge were reserved for soccer parties that night. "Completo" was all we heard from one after another. Eventually we gave up and went to the thing out in the middle. It turned out that we had to order at the counter and then sit someplace. Which meant that my sweetie, after we found an open table upstairs, went downstairs to order our "grilled ham and cheese sandwich" and "American style hamburger" and then climbed back up to where I was holding the table again.
Let's just say that the chef had a very confused idea of what a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a hamburger should be, and there wasn't nearly enough heat applied to the bun and the meat was some odd scraped thing that was pink but didn't seem to be actually raw. Enough said. My unofficial policy of trying to avoid "American style" food got some solid support that evening.
The next morning, Sunday, we stepped off about 7 after having some bread and coffee at the albergue. (One of the few times we ate before leaving.)
Right outside of town is the famous winery of Irache. (It used to be a monastery, but I don't know if there are still monks there or not.) Irache has a webcam that is pointed at the fountain spigot on the side of the winery building. The spigot taps a wine barrel, instead of water. As it was Sunday morning, and nobody was there at that time, the barrel was empty. I got about 2 drops in my palm to taste.
Then we walked along the lower of two paths (less climbing) toward Los Arcos. We were in forest for a ways, and then the path turned toward open country and we walked alongside a set of hills. This was when the weather went from unsettled to full-on ugly. We had just enough time to get our ponchos on before the light rain turned heavy. Then the lightning started--and our little line of walkers were the tallest things around. There was no help for it, though, as there are certainly no shelters of any kind in the fields, so we trudged on through the pouring rain and lightning. The storm let up just before we hit Los Arcos and we collapsed into our bunks in the municipal albergue. The hospitaleros, Jorge and Maria, were very friendly.
We had done 21 km for the day, according to the map book. (The Kindle guide said 19 km. Go figure.) 653 km to go.