Camino to Santiago de Compostela; Pamplona to Uterga 

We started our slow steady climb to Cizur Menor, and the Alto de Perdon by walking between fields of wheat blowing in the wind. 

The climb steadily increase, the views of Pamplona and the valley below were stunning.

At Zarriquiegui a hamlet about 10k out of Pamplona, we rested for a bit in the 13th-century Romanesque Iglesia de San Andrés. Our timing was perfect, as these two gentleman were singing, it was a delightful and unexpected pleasure. 

It was very windy at the top of the Alto de Perdon, the iron sculptures of the first pilgrims, and if you look beyond the sculpture you can see windmills in the distance.  In 2016 wind energy was the second source of electrical generation in Spain and  Spain is the fifth country in terms of installed wind power. Every Alto seems to have dozens of these large windmills on them!  

Our journey today 17 k, 28500 steps 4C when we left this morning, cold wind blowing most of the day with a high of 13C. Sitting at the end of the day on a sunny patio, with a glass of wine,  we will remember this as another lovely day. 


Dancing to Basque Music in Pamplona Spain

Dancing in Pamplona to Basque Music
Dancing in Pamplona to Basque Music

While walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, Spain we spent a couple of days in Pamplona, visiting the Cathedral and historical attractions. While out walking we walked through the Plaza de Castillo we heard the music, noticed the Basque Musicians.  There were dancers in the square, but it was the little one that captured my attention.  He seemed to have all the moves, but then the little ones always seem to know how to capture the attention and the hearts of those around them….

Vanishing moments – and the Camino to Santiago

”We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.”     Henri Cartier-Bresson

travelling the Camino to Santiago, walking the many miles, brought the point of Vanishing moments back to me every so clearly…….

Camino way marker, yellow arrow
Camino way marker, yellow arrow
scallop shell marker
scallop shell street marker
PilgrimYield Sign
Pilgrim Yield Sign
Pilgrim at the Cross
Pilgrim at the Cross

once we passed a sign, I wasn’t in a hurry to walk back again to take a picture; if I thought too long about what caught my attention I would miss the moment that spoke to me. These are just a couple of the sites and signs we saw and photographed while on the Camino to Santiago.  The were route markers everywhere that was needed, not so often they cluttered the view, but often enough we knew which road to take.  In Pamplona we saw the steel scallop shells every 100 feet, other cities were equally well-marked; we saw the yield signs when we had to cross a major road or highway where we might encounter vehicle traffic;  and we saw the long rock arrows on the Meseta, the flat plains of Spain.

The Church of Portal of San Juan Bautista_Obanos Spain, along the Camino to Santiago de Compostella

Church Portal, San Juan Bautista_Obanos Spain

Obanos is about 20 kilometers from Pamplona, along the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, the French Route. I learned recently that the French Route of the Camino to Santiago has the UNESCO World Heritage Designation. Every year thousands of people from all over the world travel the camino.

It was mid afternoon when we arrived in the little town, the streets were quiet and I am sure the local people were all having their siesta. The beautiful old Gothic Church sits in the main square, in front of the Nuestra Señora de Arnotegui Shrine. The sculpted portal depict stories from the Bible to the pilgrims who walked the Camino a thousand years ago, now worn by time and weather speaks to the heritage of the church in these communities.

Leaving Pamplona Spain, Sept 14, 2012

Stone Bridge at the University of Pamplona, Sept 14, 2012 8 am 

We left Pamplona about 8 am this morning, most of my photos are still in camera!

This was taken early this morning as we walked the Camino through the university of Pamplona.  Today was not as tough as some of our days have been. We have lightened our bags, somewhat, the temperatures were a little cooler, mostly due to the breeze.  We had one steep climb, more of a constant climb, over about 6 kilometres we gained approximently 310 meters, then once we reached the peak of Alto de Perdon the trail descended 250 meters to Uterga, and we arrived in Punte la Reina about 3 pm and promptly crawled into bed for a nap! after an hour or so we were able to muster the strength to have a shower and head to town for a short tour, tapas and dinner.

the map and itinerary shows tomorrow to be about the same distance 22k but flat! wish us luck!

Photos from our previous days on the Camino

We had a quiet day in Pamplona, those pictures are still in the camera, but here are a few from our previous days that I have not had time, energy or internet to share them with you.

Leaving Roncesvalles for Pamplona Sept 11, 2012

Leaving Roncesvalles for Pamplona on Sept 11, 2012, I am not sure the number on the sign behind Bill had yet sunk in!!!!!

our route sept 11, 2012 from Roncesvalles to Zubiri, 21.8 k 

the route we walked sept 11, 2012 from Roncesvalles to Zubiri, 21.8 k,  Zubiri in Basque means a village with a bridge, and I have photos of the old Gothic Bridge, Puenta de la Robia over the Rio Arga, that I will post another time.

Pilgrims on the camino de santiago, Zubiri to Pamplona, rolling pasture land. 
  Romanesque Bridge at Irotz Spain, and it’s reflection in the River. Sept 12, 2012

Between Zubiri and Irotz we found plenty of fresh ripe wild Blackberries to pick and nibble on as we walked, a special find! It was cloudy all day, temperatures were low  20’s C with a sprinkling of rain to keep us comfortable, it was not as hot as it had been.

Tomorrow, Sept 14, we leave Pamplona for Puente la Reina, 23.5k down the road, there is a 310 meter elevation gain about 2 hrs out of Pamplona, then a 450 meter decent, before arriving in Puente la Reina.   I have taken lots of pictures of Pamplona, still in the camera, and if there is time, energy and internet I might just get to post a couple, but it could be a very tiring day.






Hola from Pamplona, Day 5 of our Camino de Santiago

Saint Jean Pied de Port – Sept 8th, a beautiful little town, unfortunately we didn’t stay long. The attendants at the Camino office were very helpful, and we receipt our first pilgrim’s stamp. Here are just a few of the photos that were promised. St Jean Pied de Port Sunrise at the Orrison Augerge. Here is Bill enjoying the view, our walk from Orrison to Roncesvalles These are from our first days on the Camino, more stories and photos to follow. Internet service, time and energy are not what we expected! Today we walked form Roncesvalles to Zubiri. We will tell that story tomorrow, when we are able to process the images.

The buildings of St. Jean Pied de Port, France reflected in the river Nive, our view as we start our walk to Orrison the first stop on our camino.
the view as we walked away from Orrison Auberge 7:30 am
Bill enjoying the view as we near Pic D’Orrison, it is early morning and fog still fills the valleys.

Just a couple of photos from the first two days. We have travelled two more exhausting days since the photos were taken, with neither internet of brain power to upload photos, process or post on the blog. Arriving in Pamplona mid afternoon yesterday we are taking a rest day and hope to see the city, as well as add another post and photos the afternoon.

Bill and I are off on another adventure, One like no other we have had before……..

shadow of jet taking off from airport
Leaving on a jet plane, heading for another adventure

We are going to St.  Jean Pied de Port in the south of France to begin The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known in English as The Way of St James. A walk of approximately 800 Kilometers, there are some various in the route, so the actual distance varies.

For the modern pilgrim or traveller the camino seems to start at one of the many pilgrimage offices along the route, and while many routes have been regaining popularity the “French Way” beginning at St. Jean Pied de Port is the most famous and most popular. there is plenty of written material, guides, maps, and stories available to acquaint yourself of the route.

In medieval times a camino or pilgrimage began the moment a person left home, often there was a formal send off from the town square. Our journey also began at home, many months before we left home. Once the decision was made to walk the camino de Santiago de Compostella,  we had to decide on the route. Books, blogs, and internet discussion forums were read, information gathered. We decided that since this was our first camino we would take the road most travelled, the French route from St. Jean Pied de Port. through the Pyrenees, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon.

We researched and purchased backpacks, walking shoes, sleeping backs, and rain gear. We read about packing lists, training guidelines, and bedbugs. We reviewed flickr and goggle images to see the places we would travel through. We read about the legends, architecture and the weather. There was so much to learn. Bill and I are planners, learning everything we can before we go.

We set up a training schedule, one that is necessary for getting use to the weight of the backpack and breaking in our new boots. Unfortunately life gets in the way, our training did not go as planned and we did not get the training we had hoped for. That does not deter us, we are heading out anyway!

As a photographer I couldn’t image taking this trip without my camera, a couple of lenses and of course a tripod. I needed to find out if I could process and blog as we travelled, or purchase enough storage to keep all the images until I got home. I decide to carry a small laptop and portable hard drive so I could at least store my images, and if possible continue with my blogging when time, energy and internet would allow. With that decision we added to the packing list; battery charges, cords, and power transformers.

We had read that our pack should not be anymore than 10% of our body weight to be comfortable and safe over a long distance, we kept checking the weight of our pack. We are close, maybe a little heavier than they should be, but close.

We need travel arrangements from Calgary to St. Jean Pied de Port, and then home again. A flight from Calgary to Toronto, Toronto to Paris, train to Biarritz France where we will overnight. The a train to St Jean Pied de Port, where we will start the walk.

We leave home today. The time for training is over, and while the backpack feels good, and the shoes are broken in. We are looking forward to the adventure. I am sure there will be days that will be harder than we expected, I am also sure there will lots of wonderful moments, beautiful towns and interesting people along the way. I am sure there will be great stories to share, we will try to blog as we go and we hope you will join us as we travel.

Below is a list of some great sites for information, maps and guides: