Lorca and Torres del Rio

Yesterday I left Pamplona and walked about 20 miles to Lorca.

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Today I walked about 25 miles to Torres del Rio. This morning I passed one of the most famous landmarks on the Camino Frances – the Fountain of Wine.

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The tap on the right is water and the tap on the left is red wine. Since Pamplona the wine has been cheaper than water – 1 euro for a glass of wine and 1.50 euros for a bottle of water – so the free water is actually a better deal than the free wine.

There are now vineyards and olive orchards all along the Camino – the Rioja region is just ahead.

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There are almond trees alongside the Camino and in gardens along the way, but I haven’t seen an almond orchard yet.

The food is excellent and inexpensive. One tapas and a glass of wine is usually 2 euros. I’ve been eating 2 breakfasts, a 3 course lunch, and a 3 course dinner for the last few days. I have a chocolate croissant, espresso, and fresh squeezed orange juice after walking for about an hour. An hour or 2 after that I have a Spanish omelette and orange juice. By 3 I’m starving and have lunch, then dinner at 7. It’s a very simple schedule.

Pamplona

I made it to Pamplona this morning and will stay here for two days. I’ve walked almost 50 miles in the last 3 days. The first day had the best scenery, but there have been fewer hills to climb since then.

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The first day I didn’t run into many English speakers. For the last two days I’ve been walking with a group that includes two Australian doctors on their honeymoon, there Irish nurses, a Scottish hotel manager, and a priest from Baltimore.

The albergues where we sleep along the way are cheap (about $10 a night) and quite nice, but it can be difficult to sleep. There are always a few people that snore, and people start leaving at about 4a.m.  Tonight I’m staying at the Marriott.

There is a big festival in Pamplona today. There are bands in the streets in their Basque outfits and everyone has tables set up in the streets to eat and big bowls of sangria to drink. Unfortunately it just started pouring rain, the first rain of the trip. I’m sitting on the Plaza Del Castillo under the awning at Cafe Iruna, Hemingway’s old hangout (at least according to the Cafe), so it’s not too bad.

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Finished First Day of Walking

I made it from Madrid to Saint Jean Pied de Port in France yesterday – it was a long day on the train and bus. Saint Jean is a small town at the foot of the Pyrenees.

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This morning I started walking up the Pyrenees.

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I stopped for breakfast after 6 miles, then I walked some more.

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I stopped for lunch, then walked the last 6 miles to Roncesvalles, Spain.

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It was a fantastic day. The weather was perfect and the scenery phenomenal.  The route climbed about 4000 feet over 18 miles so the views were spectacular. Tomorrow the route will descend the other side of the Pyrenees so it should be a nice day as well.

There were quite a few people walking today, a few Americans and Britons, but mostly French, German, and Koreans (I don’t know why). A few other people are walking all th way across Spain, but most are walking for a few days.

Arrived in Madrid

I made it to Madrid. My flight from London was delayed, so by the time I got the bus into the city, the metro to my hotel, and found my hotel, it was almost 10 p.m. The nice thing about Spain is that everything is still open late into the evening. So even with the late arrival I was able to get a SIM for my phone, get some Euros, and have dinner with time to spare.

I have noticed that my Spanish language skills could use quite a bit of improvement, but I’m getting by so far. I have to leave at 6:30 in the morning for Pamplona so I won’t have a chance to see much of Madrid. I hope to see more when I return to catch my departing flight. Here is a photo from my hotel room window.

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