…was a day of tough decisions. First was route. Pamplona is the first city on El Camino De Santiago, a pilgrimage route through Northern Spain, supposedly following in the footsteps of James the apostle. (He helpfully left shells embedded in the pavements so pilgrims know where to go!) Our decision was between following the pilgrims or taking the more roundabout roads that seemed much less mountainous! We chose the road and made our way into the city where we initially joined the throngs of pilgrims heading out the other side. We still had a bit of a climb, but soon after leaving the Camino we dropped again into Beriain. Now, for the past couple of days we had all commented on how Pete’s pannier rack was wonky. Well, we found out why when it collapsed… His bolts had sheered and they were stuck in the holes.
We had more choices to make. Thankfully we stopped with a lovely lake on one side and some kind of workshop on the other. That workshop turned out not to be able to help, but directed Pete to an incredibly helpful guy down the road. He tried drilling the embedded bolt out, but broke his drill bit. But he knew a bike mechanic back in Pamplona and he had a van! More choices. Should he try to get a bus to Estelle tonight? Should he wait a day and get the train to Logrono? Only he could make the choices depending what happened to his bike, which was currently unable to hold panniers. We metaphorically waved him off in the van and got on our way.
The detour around the hills worked well. We had 20km of up and down done in just over an hour and we arrived in Puenta del Reina. Just as we rode in my phone rang; Pete had made his decision. The kind guy who took him to the mechanic was kind enough to bring him to meet us.
Puenta del Reina is a beautiful town. Popular largely because it is on the pilgrim route, which we rejoined here, but well worth the visit. Narrow streets through rustic buildings, bustling, and leading to a majestic bridge across the river. We crossed the bridge, along with some pilgrims, and started a big climb. The landscape has changed drastically, not so beautiful anymore, but still impressive; browns and oranges instead of green. We made good time again and soon arrived in Estella.
The campsite was a long way down a rubbish road, and being tired made it seem worse. But as usual a swim, shower and food helped and albeit quite late, we headed into town to experience Estella. It was similar to all the other Basque towns we have visited; atmospheric and full of evening life. After a brief wander around we sat in the main square and watched some kids playing football. One of them had a t-shirt saying ‘Jesus: Rey del Reyes’-what a great reminder at the end of a day.