After a night of deep, blissful sleep, during which I had forgotten all about the camino – forgotten, in fact that I even existed – we wake up and head off for Puenta La Reina. As we head out of the town, we meet another pilgrim, Michele, from Bari and spend the day walking with him. The scenery, once we get out of town, is glorious. Michele is a walking marvel – a survivor of cancer and heart disease, he also suffers from Chrone’s disease and has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Not that you would know any of this to look at him. He looks like a supremely healthy man in his sixties. I am reminded of Keith Richards’ comment that you can be dying of cancer but, as long as you have a suntan, everyone thinks you are in great shape. Michele is doing the walk as a final “hurrah”, a middle finger flipped in the direction of disease and death. This is my favourite day of walking yet – there are sunflowers everywhere and a stunning view of the Cantabrian mountains to our right.
Talking to Michele has made me feel guilty about my childish temper tantrums in reaction to the rain. Everywhere on the walk there are people with real problems and yet a cloudburst is enough to make me lose my rag! Well, never again. I will, from now on, look upon the rain as the gift from God that it is. We walk through the hamlet of Zariquiegui and hike up to the ridge of Alto del Perdón. This is one of the most well-known points of the camino, featured in all guide books and films etc. The Monumento al Peregrino is a life-size metal sculpture of pilgrims by Vicente Galbete and has been here since 1996. Some of the sculptures are walking while others are riding horses. There is even a dog. It is also incredibly windy and impossible to have a conversation. The wind is, apparently, constant and is said to blow away the sorrows and the burdens of the pilgrims. Engraved in one of the sculptures are the words: “Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas” meaning “Where the way of the wind meets the way of the stars”. Nice. It would be nice to see the stars from up here. We clamber down difficult, steep terrain and stop for a while in the village of Uterga at the Camino del Perdón café to enjoy our now customary beer and tortilla.
Our intention had been to stop in either Obanos or Puenta La Reina, depending on how tired we were. By the time we reach Obanos, we are in fine form and so, after a brief visit to the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, where we are asked, by two young students doing research, where we are from and how old we are, we push on to Puenta La Reina.
On the edge of town we find a large, modern complex named “Albergue Santiago Apostal”. It looks rather like a concentration camp and so we head into the centre of town and splash out €58 on a private room in the 17thCentury Hotel-Restaurante Bidean, which proves to be a good choice. The room is absolutely delightful, like something you would find in the Cotswolds of South West England.
Breakfast is not included but, after several days of stale, toasted baguettes, I am beginning to see this as a plus. We settle in and go down to explore the charming little town of Puenta La Reina. We sit near the bridge and chat to Alessandro the Florentine, who is already there. We muse that Roman bridges were so much lovelier than anything we are capable of producing today. We wander slowly back to the Bidean and sit in the street at the bar of the same establishment for a large, cool beer and to watch the world go by. We start to worry that we are living it up a little and that this style of accommodation is not really in the spirit of the camino, but it soon passes and we are the envy of all in our snug 17thcentury room with its Bordeaux walls and low ceiling. The room is, in fact, so lovely that we decide to buy a bottle of Rioja with goat’s cheese, chorizo and fresh bread and eat it there.
After Mass at the Church of Santiago, therefore, where we again bump into the adorable Blandine, and where the priest blesses us and personally stamps our passport, that is exactly what we do. Today has been a truly lovely day and I make a mental note to return to Puenta La Reina for a longer visit some time in the future. For now, however, it’s early to bed, as it will be early to rise, and on to Estella. Tonight, in this gorgeous room, we are guaranteed a night of deep, uninterrupted sleep.
Music: Cold Chisel – Twentieth Century
Audiobook: Jane Austen – Emma
2 pensieri riguardo “Tuesday 30th July 2019”
This one looks like a great day, you know the kind that sucks you in to thinking that every day on such a pilgrimage will be all sweetness and light. Puenta la Reina looks like a beautiful spot. Allan
"Mi piace""Mi piace"
Yes. Definitely one of the highlights. Although looking back, I remember the whole camino with great affection, even the bad days. I would love to be back out there again now. There were moments when I was happier than I have ever been in my life and it was probably the last time I remember feeling truly happy.
"Mi piace""Mi piace"