Distance from Larrasoaña to Pamplona, Spain – 18.7 kilometres
When we left Larrasoaña it was grey, cold and occasionally drizzling, but the weather was not as unpromising as the day before. Having learned a lesson about the need to stay warm we started out bundled up in multiple layers, but as the day improved, we began shedding the wintery gear for things more appropriate for springtime. Soon the overcast changed to puffy white clouds with only the occasional passing shower. It was perfect hiking weather.
We began the walk today with Richard, our friend we had met a few days before. It was fun talking to Richard because even though we come from very different places and backgrounds, our experiences gave us much in common and we were able to talk freely and incautiously in the way people who have been friends for a long time are able to do. We didn’t solve any of the world’s problems, but we enjoyed sharing our crazy ideas.
After walking for about about an hour we came upon a warm looking place, filled with many travellers, along the river in the town of Zurian. We devoured our plates of eggs and salty Iberian ham. In what we are beginning to find is a trend, we saw some other “pilgrims” we had met before in other places who are caught up in the same part of the stream of other pilgrims as us and we exchanged pleasantries and a little gossip about what we have heard lies ahead on Camino Francès on the way to Santiago de Compostela.
After Zurian there were a few hills and valleys, but nothing as challenging as a few days before and it didn’t take long until we were in the suburbs of Pamplona. We had extended our trek to Larrasoaña the day before because I wanted today’s hike to be short so we could spend extra time in the land made famous by Ernest Hemingway in one of my favourite novels, “The Sun Also Rises”. I was excited as we crossed through the ancient city walls into the heart of the city. It was here we bid “Adios” to Richard to go exploring, but in some ways the world is small and perhaps we will meet again.
Okay, I admit it, I am an Ernest Hemingway fan boy. Yes, I am completely aware that many of his views are incompatible with today’s modern – some would say more enlightened – sensibilities, but greatly I admire the way he was able to fearlessly wring the most from life while at the same time not take it too seriously. Yes, we as a society have largely grown beyond the way he enjoyed – some would say exploited – nature, but he was a man of his generation and we are of ours.
We went to many of the places “Papa” used to hang out during the many times he visited the city he loved while I tried to recall passages from his books. We hung out in Plaza de Castillo and had drinks at Café Iruña and Bar Txoko. We wandered around Plaza de Toros and down the ancient streets where they still perform the Running of the Bulls and we stuffed ourselves at several of the towns famous tapas bars. I had high expectations for Pamplona and the town, with its beautiful architecture and lively atmosphere, exceeded them all. I was worn out, but had a huge smile on my face, when Sarah and I collapsed into the room we had booked for the night.