I am pretty tired and in need of a good night's sleep, so will write just a short blog before turning in.
My flight and transfers went like clockwork and I managed to landed and clear customs in the 1.5 hour window between the flight's arrival and my bus to Pamplona - so I am pretty pleased. It is actually funny how easily they clear you in customs and how quick the hole thing takes imparted to the U.S. And Canada. Pretty much just wave your passport at the Security guy as you breeze through and out. I had to change terminals to catch my bus to Pamplona and that was easy peasy as well - and took barely 10 minutes. I was worried I might not catch the bus as there was only an hour and half between the plane landing and the bus leaving, but as I say - it all went like clockwork.
Hotel Hemmingway has proven a winner. It seems that just about everyone I have met here are Pilgrims who have travelled the 3 days from Saint Jean Pied de Port. I won't be staying here when I return via foot, but it is kind of nice to be eased into things in a hostel room with 5 other Pilgrims instead of a large dorm room of 20 or more, which is more typical of the Albergue's I will be staying in. This is a bit expensive at $22 EUR per night - I am hoping to keep to the 8-12 EUR range, except for a couple of "rest nights" when I feel I need a break from a room full of snoring Perigrinos. Probably the Municipal Albergue will suit for next time.
I was fed a few tales of fear and concern by my room mate Pilgrims - from all accounts the day's trek from St. Jean to Roncesvalles is going to be tough. One Pilgrim, a Quebecois fellow, told me that I should definitely send my pack forward rather than carry it as he thought it to be much too difficult otherwise. He told me a sad tale of not finishing until 11 pm and having the Albergue full when he arrived. The Hospitalera drove him to the next town where there was room, so it did turn out good enough for him, but it did cause him a great deal concern as he tried not to get lost in the dark. The 3 Spanish Pilgrim Ladies told me that with the unexpectedly warm weather there had been 2 deaths due to heart attacks.
I looked up the Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles section in my Guide book, where they provide an "altitude adjusted" distance and they recon that while it is onlly 25 km, it is the equivalent of doing 37 km. I had better get an early start - I sure don't want to be walking in the dark and get lost in the woods outside Roncesvalles.
I had a brief walk around this evening trying to find something substantiial for my evening meal (I did not eat all day as I went straight from plane to bus to Hostel and then shower)... so by 6ish I was getting really hungry having just had peanuts and a chocolate cereal bar since breakfast. It is actually difficult to get a proper dinner in Spain much before 9 but I did find a place where I could order a club sandwhich, Spanish style, which looked neat and featured a cutlet of pork, bacon, tomatoe and mayo instead of the usual.
The Spanish have their own meal cycle - and usually have their big meal at 1:00 during their time off for Siesta and have a late light supper at 10 in the evening - so it is sometimes hard to find a restaurant open for serving a meal in the early part of the evening as most of us Pilgrims would prefer. The sandwich was several notches up from the usual bocadilla with ham just slapped on bread - so I was happy to have it.
I am utterly exhausted and note that my room mates have already turned in for the night. Really, I haven't had a proper sleep since Monday night and even that was short as I was up late getting things in order. I will need to upload the rest of the Pamplona pictures tomorrow. I am going to do a bit of sight seeing in the morning - and also a trip to the post office to mail forward the extra stuff I brought along for when I am working in the Albergue in Zamora. I have bought my tickets to Saint Jean Pied de Port and will leave at 2:30 pm and be there within the hour - so lots of time to settle into my next Albergue, see the town and get an early night. I will squeeze in an hour to blog I hope.