Day 3: Larrasoaña – Pamplona: 10 miles
We got up early and were on our way by twilight, taking snacks for breakfast that we had sat aside the night before. We descended mostly in on a downhill gradient along the valley created by the River Arga, getting more and more urban and developed as we approached Pamplona. While it was scenic, it was not particularly noteworthy, so we steadily made our way into more city settings and into the old town of Pamplona, feeling a little odd to be seeing our “Camino” transition out of its prior rural setting.
While we got lunch in the main Plaza Castillo, we decided this day would be more of a “rest” day in that we would stop walking earlier than normal and remain there for the afternoon / evening to take some time to enjoy Pamplona. Kim has a pretty bad blister on the back of one of her heels, and we figured it would be best to give it some rest and healing time before pushing it harder on the next days. Plus, Pamplona is a pretty famous city, so it would be good for us to give it more attention than what we will for our other overnight stops. So we queued up and checked into the pilgrim’s albergue Jesus y Maria, a large church vault subdivided into bunk cubicles in the arched naves.
Pamplona has some nice medieval churches and old pedestrian-dominated streets, but it is mostly famous for its festival of San Fermín and its famed “running of the bulls” through the old city streets. That festival happened two months earlier, but the tourist shops boast of it freely, and the American author Ernest Hemingway who popularized the city is featured in several street and bar names and even a few statues. Kim and I both read his book “The Sun Also Rises” that featured decadent Americans living it up across Europe during our prohibition era. Even today we can see how alcohol is an easy and welcoming draw, as local wine and beer are abundant, cheap, and popular through all the streets. So even though it was a shorter “Camino” day, we certainly on our feet as much as any day exploring the town.
We ran into 4 of our Brazilian friends that stayed in the same Belari lodging on our first night. We had some drinks with them, which was followed up by Menu del Dia at an excellent local restaurant, and more drinks afterwards. We had an excellent time with them catching up on our first 3 days of the Camino and learning about each other. I don’t know if our mutual invites to come visit each in our home countries will ever come to fruition, but the sentiment is genuine, and such moments epitomize my desire for surprise connections along the Camino. We’ll be walking at a faster pace than them from here on out, but may our Camino be filled with more examples of sacred serendipity.