Yesterday afternoon I began to feel weak and ill.
Actually, walking over the Pyrenees I began to feel the toughness of the walk and I knew I was getting ill. Being me though I didn’t slow down and if anything I raced the stage, arriving at Roncesvalles before 1pm and being one of the first to arrive from Saint Jean Pied de Port.
All I wanted was to rest and sleep, and after taking a shower and having my clothes washed (trousers, socks and t-shirt in the washing machine and dryer) I cuddled into my sleeping bag and slept a full 12 hours – sweating intensively and occasionally waking in the night to the sound of my own words softly dribbling in murmurs from my tired, exhausted body.
The first village of any significance after Saint Jean Pied de Port is Roncesvalles, and this is the first sight of the place as you slowly appear from the forest:
Roncesvalles is basically a building complex, catering specifically for pilgrims and consists of a church, chapel, hotel, albergue (Gite), and a few restaurants.
The main entrance to the albergue:
The main entrance to the albergue also happens to be where the secretary’s office is stationed:
It is here where you can pay for your night’s accommodation if staying (10 Euro) and where you can get your pilgrim stamp (Post photo. The photo on the left is the one which I received in Saint Jean Pied de Port).
They also (annoyingly) ask you to complete a short questionnaire and I just ticked any of the boxes.
The secretary read it and then exclaimed: “You are traveling on a horse?!”.
I looked down on the form and saw where I had ticked that I was traveling by horse and gave her a half smile and then half apologised for not taking the form so seriously 🙂
In France at the Tourist Information offices – if you ask the person there for information – they always ask you, when you are about to leave, which country you are from. I got so tired of replying every time “London” and finally in Saint Jean Pied de Port I came up with the perfect alternative answer: Planet Neptune 🙂
I handed my 10 Euro note over and received a receipt slip (I had bed 120) which it was required to keep with you when leaving and re-entering the building:
The albergue officially opens at 2pm for pilgrims wanting to get to their beds and at 2pm everyone was ordered to firstly take off their boots and store them in the boot room:
The Camino now definitely has an international feel to it:
I went to find my bed and was pleasantly surprised to find a clean bunk bed in a room of 4, and a locker where I could place my stuff and avoid carrying it around in a plastic bag whenever I went for fear that someone would steal it (I had my rucksack stolen last year and I am a little paranoid now about my belongings).
Please be advised though that this albergue is not the standard for Spain, in terms of facilities and comfort factor.
The 10 Euro covers the bed only, but you can purchase the pilgrim dinner for 9 Euro and breakfast is only 3 Euro. I didn’t purchase either, and bought my breakfast at a shop in the next village (2km further along the way).
It is possible to either wash your clothes by hand or machine wash and dry at a cost of just under 3 Euro.
For any long-traveled pilgrims I would recommend using Roncesvalles as your pit stop place, as opposed to SJPP (ie., washing clothes, etc).
There is internet, but it is very unreliable.
This albergue closes its doors at 10pm and then expects everyone to be out at 8am, which is the standard for Spain.
There is also a computer room with computers, and a selection of vending machines where you can buy overpriced, unhealthy food. They also have a kitchen with microwaves and if like me you just can’t begin the day without coffee and if you are traveling with coffee, then you can boil up some water and begin your day as every day should begin: with a strong, hot coffee.
The albergue can house something like 120 pilgrims and they have another building for any overspill:
My advice though is to arrive early so you can have a room with 4 people in total, as opposed to sleeping in an open building with around 100 people in one room.
This morning I felt about the same as I did yesterday and I began the walk onwards feeling tired and weak.
This area of Spain btw is Navarra, and was partially made famous due to the help of the eternal cocktail bard himself:
There be witches in these parts:
The Camino signs here are very good, even the unofficial ones:
The walk from Roncesvalles is mostly downhill, and passes mainly through a woodland landscape:
At around 12pm I made it into the village of Zubiri:
Isn’t Zubiri the name of a Polish beer? 🙂
Feeling exhausted and weak I decided to fork out 10 euro for a night’s stay in the private albergue which is located on the right just after the bridge as you walk into the village:
There is an albergue Municipal in the village too in Zubiri which charges 8 Euro, but the advantage of the Albergue Zaldiko is its friendly hostess, Maria:
Plus the free wifi internet and the lockers.
The rooms are pretty comfy too, with 8 people to a room:
One note which I wanted to add to this post is that on the corner of the street there is a restaurant/cafe/bar (opposite the church) and it was here that I went in to ask if they had @ and upon hearing that they did I then asked to buy a drink. I thought that buying a drink and using the internet was within the boundaries of politeness and social etiquette (not buying a drink would have been being a bit cheeky). The owner came over and began monologuing about how the internet wasn’t free and whether I could expect the same in England. I thanked the woman for the drink, and left the cafe without paying for my drink and without using her precious @. Lots of pilgrims can mean that sometimes you meet people who have terrible social manners and I hope to meet as little of these people as possible on the way to Finisterre 🙂
I am going to spend the day in bed, focussed on recovering so that I can reach Pamplona tomorrow and in a good state of health. Btw, Maria let me know that she runs a bar and its located a bit on the left as you turn the corner opposite the church (Taberna Baserri). I decided to pop over to order a glass of Spanish wine – for medicinal purposes – and can attest that the waitresses are friendly and bilingual, the wine is tasty and a great deal at E1.50 a glass, and the music is blues/rock (in other words a place one could find themselves spending every day of the week; slouched in bar posture, immersed in the big and small questions and answers of life). If I wasn’t feeling so weak then I wouldn’t have chosen to stay overnight here: the village feels and looks a bit like a holiday home complex for adventure-challenged folks. A good place to rest though if yesterday’s walk over the Pyrenees knocked you for six 🙂