15km Pamplona to Irotz

Seeing through the bikeWe had good intentions of starting out early today and crossing into France and the nuns in the pilgrim hostel where we spent the night certainly made sure we got out of bed in good time. At 6:30am the lights went on in all the bedrooms and, while we rolled over and tried to ignore the inevitable, many pilgrims jumped to their feet, eager to hit the trail. Just an hour later the hostel was nearly empty as the sixty or so people who spent the night there filtered out into the streets of Pamplona to knock off a few more kilometers in their quest to get to Santiago. Our quest was much simpler: coffee.

With the price of a morning cuppa getting more expensive as we go north, we decided to buy a litre of milk and make our own in own of Pamplona’s many public squares. By 9am we were done our coffee and headed off to a bike shop we’d spotted the day before to get some new brake pads and to ask for an opinion on whether it was time to replace our tires so far into the journey. This turned out to be one of the best stops we made during our whole journey. The two brothers who run the shop – Aitor and Ibon – were helpful and quite funny, joking continuously with us as they examined our bikes. In the end we decided we could get a bit more out of our tires, but not today as Aitor and Ibon invited us to lunch. We couldn’t refuse of course and were treated to a wonderful meal of salad, a rice dish with seafood and a desert of soft cheese and fig jam. Delicious!

This was also a wonderful view for us into Basque culture as Aitor and Ibon are very proud Basques and were happy to answer all sorts of questions for us about the language and the history of the Basque people. Late in the afternoon we finally set out from their shop and followed a trail along the Arga river to leave Pamplona. At the trail’s end we found a place to set our tent for the night, before continuing into France tomorrow.