July 17, 2008

Day 49: 1 June- Zubiri to Pamplona

I rose early, very early, like about 3am early, at the Municipal Albergue. I could stand The Snorer From Hell, a Brazilian woman sleeping in the adjacent bunk, no more! And I was in good company, with several others who had also escaped for the sake of sanity to the toilet block. Most of us were to return to bed, albeit not to sleep, but a young Englishwoman right next to her on the top could stand it no longer, and spent the rest of the night in the toilet block. Somehow, this view of the industrial factory site that dominated the valley floor leaving Zubiri, seemed to suit the kind of night it had been!But before long I had the good fortune to meet up with a friendly group of young South American walkers, sheltering in a church porch like I was... and all was good again!
It turned into a wet, wet morning again, and the track was very muddy and required care to negotiate. I was glad to have the use of my walking pole: I left it 'collapsed' on the outside of my pack most days in Spain, but the days I used it, I am certain it helped me avoid injury in slippery and/or steep conditions.
The river was full...for obvious reasons!
Eventually I reached the outskirts of Pamplona, or more correctly the suburbs of Villava first, but it all just seemed like one long urban stretch. I was muddy after the morning's exploits, and I arrived this Sunday afternoon, just as people were all heading to the 1pm Mass dressed in their Sunday best. I felt as if I was looked at here as if I was some kind of alien in my muddy shoes.... though surely they must be used to pilgrims passing through!

The approach to the old part of the city of Pamplona though was very special, and took away all resentment I had about feeling like an alien! There was a medieval bridge to cross, a moat to walk through
and a historic gate with which to enter the city, as pilgrims of bygone centuries had done.
Then I passed into the narrow streets of Pamplona, increasingly busy with people spilling out of bars as I reached its centre on a Sunday afternoon.
I was pleased to find the signs up to the Jesus and Mary albergue near to the Cathedral.
Being Sunday though, the Cathedral was only open for services. The story of my life in Spain: I kept missing important monuments by arriving in places on Sundays when they were closed! However, I realised there was a rosary on at 7.30pm, so I grabbed the chance to get inside the Cathedral then. And got to hear some exquisite singing, and see quite an amazing procession around the aisles afterwards.
The Jesus and Mary albergue, like quite a few buildings I was to stay in in Spain, was in an historic building. But it had been completely modernised inside. The welcome was very much a fill-in-the-form-you-are-a-number kind of welcome. But the beds were comfy, and there were partitions to break down the dormitory feel. I thought this was fortunate really, when I recognised that The Snorer From Hell was here before me, which surprised me somewhat, as I knew she was just arising as I left the albergue in Zubiri. But I heard later from a reliable source that she had left Zubiri by bus. Each to their own! She was at one end of the albergue and I was at the other on the other side... so there were sufficient degrees of separation for me not to have to worry!

There was an amazing piece of 'synchronicity' at this albergue this afternoon. Lyne and Denis had left Roncesvalles well before me, and I had not seen them in Zubiri. Once I had found my bed in the albergue, and showered to get rid of the mud I was encased in, I went wandering to explore the albergue. I found the internet area..... and found L&D seated at a computer..... and they had just sent me an e-mail asking me where I was...telling me they needed me!!!! There was much laughter as I walked in to the room in reply to the e-mail they had just sent.....


  1. If you ever find yourself with another SFH situation, I would recommend beeswax earplugs. They mold themselves to your ears and therefore block out much more sound than aircraft earplugs.

  2. I actually bought earplugs in Viana, where, strangely enough, the pharmacist had a huge array of different types!!!! The ones I bought weren't beeswax, but they did gradually mould to your ears after you put them in. This meant that they didn't cut the noise out enough at first, but so long as you got to sleep before the 'major' snorers, they soon spread in your ears to block out most of the noise. I only met one other SFH situation where even with earplugs, the noise was still annoyingly audible. And that was extreme, and drove those without earplugs that night nearly insane!!

  3. Yes, the major problem I had with the chronic snorers was that the vibrations and resonance in the room of their snoring would keep me awake, even with the earplugs. When it was a smallish room like that in Torres Del Rio it we immpossible to ignore and there were many times I would pull my whole mattress and sleeping back into the common room or corridor to get away from them.