So I slept reasonably well again last night with my fleecy liner instead of my sleeping bag. They do provide a light blanket at Orisson so I definitely used it. I must also say it did get a little nippy during the night so, even though I’d requested the window to stay open, I closed it myself in the darkest hour before dawn and one of the nice Australian ladies expressed her gratitude once we were all up.
Anyway I bounced down to breakfast without my bag so my various appliances could charge a little while longer. I enjoyed the soup bowl sized mocha coffee and bread although an egg or some cheese would have been much appreciated. Back up to the room and a quick check of all my belongings (remember i was sparking joy looking at how small it was) and I was on my way.
Again it was not as difficult as the first time and my minimalist luggage probably contributed to the bounce in my step, but for some reason I was out of sync with all the orisson people although I thoroughly enjoyed my solo walk through the mountains. I kept stopping and marvelling at the absolutely spectacular views, the wildlife and the beautiful horses.
The Flemish Yoda caught up a couple of times and stopped to watch the eagles. I thought they were vultures myself but anyway. My only concern was that he indicated they had been showing him which path all the way along the Le Puy route. I was deeply concerned he was going to feel the pull and disappear over the cliff somewhere! This time the eagle simply wanted him to take his photo and flew close enough for him to succeed in this endeavour. I personally think it may have been eyeing him off for a feed! But he did get a great photo!
A little way along a nice French lady walked beside me for a short while. She took the opportunity to teach me some French which, although potentially useful at other times, was not going to be my priority in a few hours when we crossed the border.
There were a few packs of Italians going past and I have to say I was getting some ideas in my head. If I could alert them to my posting at Najera then maybe, just maybe, I would be invited to dinner! You remember don’t you? The Irishman crying in his beer up at O’Cebreiro? The nuns chasing us out of the kitchen in Carrion? Oh the food they cooked! The songs they sang! The wine they drank!
Well reality kicked in very quickly because there wasn’t a hope in hell I was going to keep up with these speedsters! Young, fit, mountain climbers – probably pasta geniuses too! Oh well I kept walking.
I must have been getting close to the caravan man when I saw it! It was my first hypotenuse! My good heavens I was excited. I took a photo here a photo there and then half way along the hypotenuse I stopped to take another. I was laughing to myself and might have looked like I’d lost the plot!
At this point a gentleman stopped to see if I was okay. Sure am I said “just taking some photos of the hypotenuse!” What the!?! Aussie he asked. Yep. Where from. Bris Vegas. Eumundi he said. Ha – less than 100kms away! The Aussie sisters in my room at orisson were less than 100 in the other direction. Had a quick chat and he took off and said I’ll catch you for a beer at Roncesvalles. Sure will! I like a canã after a long walk! I went back to photographing my hypotenuse!
As I drew closer to the caravan selling snacks I saw John and Yoko and their daughter leaving around the corner. I arrived a few minutes too late to catch them so peeled off my backpack and sat on the log and enjoyed a magnificent hot chocolate. I bought an egg, a banana, a cake and a muesli bar. He might be in kahoots with Orisson making sure they don’t feed us too much in the morning so he can get the sales! Or maybe not. Whatever. I packed my little snacks away and walked on to my favourite little hut to watch the vultures circling and to have my lunch.
I’d just left there when the Flemish Yoda arrived again wondering if this was the high point or if we were in Spain yet. It was exhausting getting up the first off road hill, going off piste, and these were the same questions I had pondered on our first camino. But no – there was still a fair way to go I said feeling wise and well informed. I just kept walking.
I did keep stopping and marvelling and stopping and marvelling but I think I was making pretty good time. Just after the spanish border I decided it was time to celebrate. So I did what anyone who’s carrying a boiled egg would do. I balanced it on a pole, took its photo, then I ate it. I didn’t have champagne so the boiled egg was perfect.
I eventually caught up with John and Yoko a bit further on. I suggested it wasn’t too far now – but then everything is relative isn’t it? It might have been another five kilometres before we would reached Col de Leopar – the highest point of this Pyrenees crossing.
Anyway I eventually arrived at the Albergue at around 2 pm which wasn’t bad. I felt quite good and was ready to wash clothes and have a serious shower. The Dutch hospitalero told me I looked quite relaxed. I looked like I could walk further! Can you believe that? Me – walk further! He then marvelled at my new poles. These are the best! These are fantastic poles! He said. Don’t worry I didnt bore him with my story. I took the compliment and told him I too would be hospitalero in Najera for two weeks. I was heading there tomorrow.
And then I found my bed – no cama baja! The hospitalero told me to just ask the person above to swap. No one was there yet so I took the bottom bunk, had a shower a rest and then left a note explaining my inability to climb. Yep I can walk 500 miles but getting up and down those top bunks is like a journey into hell!
I thought the lower bunk opposite looked remarkably familiar. Same sleeping bag, same carry bags – I missed my mochila!
I went and bought myself my favourite spanish snack -croquettes – and relaxed outside the bar for a short while before heading back for a nap. Yep Eumundi man was in bed opposite. Turns out he was a retired airforce pilot and had meticulously planned his pack as well – almost identical gear to my missing supplies. But his airline managed to transfer them through. Let’s call him Hans solo. Hans was flying around in tin cans for most of his life. I’m sure the f111s are a little more upmarket than Hans and chewy’s ride but I’ll remember him easier that way.
Turns out we both had tickets for dinner at the hotel. Very swish compared to my last few visits. So after the siesta we headed down for dinner and what do you know the young Danish couple were there again. So we sat down and enjoyed another wonderful communal meal with them, the retired Israeli army guy, a young American girl and, you are not going to believe it but….. two Italians!!!!
We had a great laugh and enjoyed the meal and the two bottles of red all agreeing that cheap spanish wine is wonderful- unlike cheap Australian wine! For Primera I steered clear of the pasta and had vegetable soup. The Italians were disappointed with the pasta! For segundos we all ordered pork from the pilgrim menu (not sure about the israelí guy) but we had to laugh when it arrived! Look for yourself 😂.
The Italians were, as expected, disappointed with the pasta so i took the opportunity to invite them to Nájera to cook! But they were only going to Logroño if I remember correctly! Even more disappointing, he was a sommelier!
Hans shouted the table another bottle of vino and a few of us headed down to the pilgrim mass for a visit. My visit was very short. I was now officially exhausted and headed back to sleep. It was very cold so I piled my limited clothes and rain jacket on top of my sleeping liner and enjoyed the airline pillow someone had left downstairs in the throw away bin!
It had been a wonderful day – walking into spain is truly magnificent over the Pyrenees. No wonder Napoleon wanted to have it all to himself!
As I descended into roncesvalles I couldn’t help but sing edelweiss at the top of my voice. God help anyone in earshot let me tell you!Thank heavens I didn’t cancel and wait somewhere for my luggage! What a wonderful day!
The lost luggage claim of course is yet to come!
Hasta mañana 😘