My breakfast was included in the 15 euro price of the Albergue in Zubiri but Albergue breakfasts are generally rather poor so I skipped it and set off. It was a little later than normal, probably because it was my last day of walking and I didn’t want it to end. The next cafe was closed and so I had to walk 12 Kms before reaching a pleasant riverside place thronging with pilgrims. And by then all the croissants had gone.
I sat down with the sort of breakfast I had declined at 6.30 but my day lit up when Miss Connecticut came over to practice her International Relations on me. If I had known what a major part she would play in my blog I would have introduced her properly as B “with a t”. I had already seen the Michigan man striding past me, alone. Miss Connecticut told me she has decided to walk at her own pace; she is only a third of the size of the Michigan man and sadly, after 2 days at too fast a pace, the inevitable injury has struck, the damage has been done. If I can skip ahead to this morning, I was brushing my teeth in the Albergue when who should come out of the shower but Miss Connecticut, sporting a sizeable knee support. Oh dear, I hope it’s not too bad. I last saw her setting off in a westerly direction in the company of many other pilgrims who I pray will take good care of her. The pharmacies in Pamplona have been doing good business, as usual. Let no one tell you that the Camino is easy.
Back to yesterday (and I trust nobody was expecting an update from me last night). I arrived in Pamplona and was lucky to get a place at the famous German Albergue on the river, the Casa Paderborn, just 7 Euros per night. It was built to resemble a Bavarian mountain retreat and is one of the top places to stay on the Camino.
After checking in, I made my way to the Cathedral to give thanks for a safe Camino and for completing it with as many as nine toenails. Make that nine and a half. I wish I could say that I delivered the Japanese prayer which I carried all the way from Le Puy. My vision was to ignite it among the candles but the Cathedral now uses LED candles. I will therefore deliver the prayer to the church of St James in my home town, Weybridge. After that, I poured half a litre of beer into my stomach and was back in the Albergue and asleep by 3pm as the temperature touched 36 degrees.
I was half expecting a quiet day/night but N & L were also staying at the Albergue. N woke me up at 5.30pm to say that she’d just seen P, the US management consultant, arriving in the heat of the day after a 40 kms walk, to buy me a beer. So we all met at the bar where Hemingway drank and wrote his books, which I must try to read.
I’ve previously mentioned the English lady living in France (S) and her Australian friend (M) whom I’ve met a few times along the way and who joined us for dinner. M and S are two incredible ladies who have both faced major challenges in life and have walked several Caminos together. This year they started in Moissac and I have often seen them, despite their slower pace. It is a wonderful thing to see someone who is missing several important internal organs undertake such a strenuous journey in such good spirits. They celebrated with wine and brandy and M insisted on paying the bill. It was a memorable last night on the Camino.
This morning I bid the departing pilgrims a Buen Camino, knowing the route they would take. I was sad not to be walking with them but I don’t want to repeat any of last year’s Camino. I met P for breakfast and again for lunch and he kindly walked me to the bus station. I’m now on the bus to Bilbao where I’m staying in the same hotel where I spent my first night in Spain last year. And then I fly home tomorrow, Friday.