Before I get to the farewell I want to share with you a little about our night in the Albergue. The Roncesvalles one is the largest I have stayed in on the camino and for that alone it is worth the experience. There are hundreds of beds in a recently fitted out 3 storey dorm. Last year I had been privileged to be placed beside the Korean national snoring champion you may recall – I survived the night without actually holding the pillow over his head and committing murder! This year the same person may not have been so lucky! I was in peak condition.
This year our Korean bunk mates surpassed all expectations by not snoring at all. However they had another far more annoying expertise. They commenced packing with torchlights at approximately 4.30am in the morning and you can imagine we were not pleased when 6am came around and they were still packing!!!!! I was on the lower bunk and was targeted by their torches and tussling to the extreme. At some point (and I admit to swearing under my breath and probably over it) I cried “please turn the light on, take your gear and go!” Actually Ill admit it was a little more demanding than this. Michelle also chirped in telling them the same. Thankfully they turned the light on BUT they continued packing!!!!! Clearly missing the point of why the light was to come on. Michelle also let out cries of exasperation and the guys a cubicle over were swearing in Polish I am sure. In fact I think the Canadians down the end were crying in despair. The Irish were writing songs. Stories will pass from generation to generation down the camino about these girls. I have dubbed these girls not the Korean National Packing champions but, and I truly believe this, they would have to take the international title for Camino Morning Packers – for taking the longest to pack your bag in an albergue or hostel in the morning. Have they no shame? Even the French early risers pack their bags the night before, the Germans never unpack theirs even if they talk loudly as they leave, even the loud annoying people from anywhere in the world (including the Aussies who have drunk too much) don’t start at 4.30 and go for 2 hours. The Byron bay resort managers that complained about a few whispers when we returned from the bluesfest one night would have keeled over in shock. My beloved can never again complain about any tardiness I may have exhibited in my camino packing rituals! Michelle swears she is going back to camping! I have a few time delay shots to share. If these packs are in the bunk next to you – take the bed at your own risk!
Well after all this we were awake as you can imagine. I had to catch a bus a 9.10 am and we went to have our last breakfast together. Okay, it wasn’t really breakfast, it was coffee and bread! So we had coffee. I sent my pack on to Jesus and Maria in Pamplona and waited for the bus. Too hard to carry a big pack and wander the city looking for my next nights sleep. After the snorters and grunters and the international camino packing champions I needed some peace!
I farewelled Michelle and watched her wander off down the camino feeling quite sad and yet so happy that we had started this together. I took some photos of buildings and people and went back up for another coffee finding it a little too cold to stand out at the bus stop. I kept wondering how and where we would see each other again.
On the bus a 78 year old Canadian and his nephew sat next to me for a chat. He was walking bits and pieces of the camino and shared his whole life story in the hours or so it took to get to Pamplona. Even off the track there are some characters. I walked them to their preferred hostel using google maps whereupon I bid them farewell as I went to wander the old city and find somewhere close to Jesus and Maria so I didn’t have to carry my pack too far. I in no way wanted to return to Australia with new injuries now!
I went looking for the bar near the cathedral that my beloved and I had found some great food at last year. It was closed but as luck would have it a brand new albergue had opened just opposite it. I went in and asked for a private room but the lady talked me out of it. 50 euros! It’s too expensive and it’s very quiet today she told me. So I took a bottom bunk in an upstairs dorm for 18 euros with no one else in it. I had a rest and wrote some blogs and worked out I could change my flight and catch a train the same day if I stayed here two nights instead of trying to spend a night in Barcelona. I emailed Michelle and told her what I was doing and headed out to investigate the city. Again last year I was in too much pain to fully appreciate this beautiful old city. After ducking into the cathedral opposite, I visited a book fair, Zapaderia Street (shoe street) and discovered a great restaurant around the corner from the albergue with a view over the whole city. I then went back to the dorm and was so disappointed to see someone’s pack in the cubicle next to mine. But then I looked closely and it was very familiar.
Michelle had done it again almost 50 kms since I had left her that morning! Lucky she had saved her knees coming down the Pyrenees. She is an absolute marvel! We headed out for some food and a look around again. I could see Michelle was exhausted but I was so pleased to see her. Everyone else from the Pyrenees wouldn’t arrive until tomorrow. So we had one nights sleep without any annoyance from snorers snorters or packing champions. Next morning we had the lady downstairs book us a massage with a specialist camino therapist for the afternoon – I hadn’t done the 50kms but I had done the Pyrenees again. We went for a wander and booked a reflexology also for the morning. We ended the day eating Pinxos with a Portuguese friend Michelle had met last year. He also brought along some Spanish friends and their Spanish water dogs and we ended the day watching the sunset over Pamplona.
Next morning I had a taxi booked for 5.45 so I was up early. Wouldn’t you know it – a pack of snorers had moved in both sides last night. I carried my pack downstairs and fidgeted a bit but I couldn’t work out how those girls could fill two hours with the fidgeting bit when it’s already packed. This time Michelle and I said goodbye for certain and I caught the train to Barcelona ready to head back to Copenhagen to my dear son and to catch up with Mr Wong who was going to pop over from London.
What a great time in Spain again – physical challenges, seeing good friends and meeting knew ones – and don’t forget the mental challenges of sleeping in dorms with friends from all over the world!