The weather forecast was grim with predictions of midday rain. Therefore, we left Puente de Reina early this morning. The Calle Mayor led us past the St. Mary’s Cathedral and over the Puente la Reina Bridge out of town. The steep ascent to Maneru began immediately. Five tough kilometers later we crossed the town through Calle Forzosa.
The change in the terrain became clear as we strolled through vineyards, olive trees and farmland for the next three kilometers. We approached the old hilltop village of Cirauqui. We could have easily gotten lost in the medieval labyrinth if not for the clear Camino shell markings leading the way. Upon descending from the village we found more sweeping views of the Navarran countryside, as well as a passage over an old Roman bridge.
The following six kilometers to Lorca is on an old Roman road. A kilometer before reaching Lorca we crossed over a very old Roman Bridge which holds a disturbing story. Two Navarrese knife wielders were sharpening their knives along the riverside, while Frankish pilgrims on horses approached. The pilgrims asked if the water was safe for their horses to drink and the men gave their approval. Once the horses drank they fell over and died. The Navarrese wielders rejoiced as they now had fresh horse skin to sell.
Lorca is another charming medieval town where we stopped for lunch at the La Bodega del Camino. We enjoyed homemade gazpacho and tortilla de patata before starting the 5 kilometer trek to the next village. Villatuerta is one of the most modern town’s we’ve passed through with freshly cut parks and newly constructed buildings. At the end of the town there is the beautiful Villatuerta Church. Here we met a middle age Spanish couple doing the Camino. The man had a bandage on his leg and told us a cyclist ran into him on the 2nd day of the Camino near Roncesvalles. He rested for three days and was now moving at a significantly slower pace. Just one of the many injuries of the Camino.
On the three kilometer walk to 11th century Estella we hiked through open land with some abandoned villages and ruins. Luckily the rain was still holding out and we made it to the town center of Estella safe and dry. Pension Andres is at the other end of the city, which gave us the opportunity to walk through the town seeing some of its sites. We passed by the 12th century Iglesia Parroquial del Santo Sepulcro, the Church of Sant Pere de la Rúa, crossed over the Estella bridge, and visited Plaza de los Fueros with Iglesia de San Juan. While entering the center we saw the scene where the unfortunate Canadian woman was hit by a car and killed. Now, there is a new underpass for pilgrims to avoid crossing the main road arching over La Estella.
The pilgrim’s dinner at Al Horno de San Miguel was mediocre but of course we are always satisfied with the delicious Navarrean wine. A pilgrim can eat quite cheap on the Camino with the 9-15 euro “menu del dia”, which has a first and second dish, dessert, water and lots of wine. After dinner, we found an ambulance in front of our pension. Apparently a pilgrim was suffering from stomach pains and vomiting. He appeared alright, but the paramedics were taking him to the hospital to run some tests as a precaution. It’s so important to take care of one’s health while on such a strenuous pilgrimage. Staying hydrated, eating balanced meals and listening to the body is essential.
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El Camino: Day 4 (Pamplona to Puente La Reina)