This morning I woke to an empty room. Out of 14 pilgrims, all sharing the one large dorm, I was the very, very last one to get up.
The previous night, I set my alarm for 8:30am (7:30am Irish time) thinking that was a very respectable time to wake. Little did I know that everyone who does the Camino is an absolute beast who rises with the Spanish sun.
Despite pangs of failure, and a knawing guilt over my apparent laziness, I told myself it didn't matter. This is my Camino and I'll do it at whatever bloody pace I want to! And if that means having a "lie in" until 8:30am some (most) mornings then so be it.
To be honest, I was just happy to have woken up in working order. Nothing strained, nothing broken, nothing sunburned, nothing sore. Well. Nothing TOO sore anyway.
After some brekkie and a smathering of Deep Heat I too hit the road.
Today, I had been told by many, was a downhill day.
Those people, as I found out after an initial 15km freewheel, were liars. Dirty liars.
Not one of them mentioned the mountain, Erro, that lies between Roncesvalle and Pamplona. The one that has no shelter from the sun and rises to more than 800 metres above sea level.
Once at the top of this, however, THEN it was all downhill. Gloriously downhill, pretty much all the way to Pamplona (it gets slightly steeper as you enter the city).
Having learned a valuable lesson from Day One, I stuck largely to the road today. It was roughly the same distance as the walking path, which runs parallel to the road a lot of the way between Roncesvalle and Pamplona, but the surface was better for a bicycles and I didn't have to constantly slow down to pass out walking pilgrims.
It meant I got to Pamplona quicker, but I'm sure I did miss out on some nice scenery at points.
The highlight of today came unexpectedly, some 8km outside of Pamplona.
I took by cycle off road for the last 10km and happened upon a river with small waterfall with a pool underneath it.
Others were bathing there, and it was 32 degrees celsius, and I had a towel and a change of clothes. It was a no brainer. I ran right in.
Best decision of my life.
After a little while I decided to finish off the trek to Pamplona, found my hostal, and got my gear set up in my female-only four-day dorm.
Then came a bit of a walking tour of Pamplona - monuments, churches, and the famed Cathedral de Santa Maria.
Pamplona is a beautiful place. I almost wish tomorrow were a rest day so I could explore it a bit more.
But no, tomorrow takes me onwards another 45km to Estella... And another 45km closer to Santiago.
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