Day 4 - Pamplona Pintxos Galore!

Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
Trip End Oct 07, 2012

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Flag of Spain  , Navarra,
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On with the Reflections from yesterday:

A - "Before you go to sleep, check at what time they open the exit door and kitchen. Its deadly to wait around with your rucksack in the dark. When you could be lying in bed."

B - "Take one of those airline sleep masks with you. One you are on route they don't seem to sell them." Most albergues have windows with no shutters or curtains so there will be lots of light. If there isn't...the emergency lights will be right on your face (Sod's Law).

C - "One you are exhausted with the albergues...take a night of." Any cheap pension will not set you back much more than the albergue and the benefits will be priceless.

D - Marry someone who can book good accommodation via internet if you need it!

Day 3 was a full rest day with the exception of a couple of long walks around Pamplona. I invested some time uploading the photographs I have been taking with the Blackberry to the travelblog using the WiFi available in the pension and the free WiFi available in the Plaza del Castillo of Pamplona.

That leads me to criticise people who like the author of my guidebook, affirm that "one should leave mobile, camera and watch at home". He then proceeds to put phones of all the hostels in the book and states "phone ahead to make sure they have availability".
Its sounds like a contradiction, and it also sounds like a slight hypocrisy. One cannot complain about mobiles and watches, while at the same time using modern rucksacks, boots, trains to get to the start, ATM machines, and other modern facilities. I waiting for one of the "purists" to request that women be banned from the pilgrimage also given they didn't do it in times past...

Its the same people supporting the above that hate cyclists doing the Camino. They claim "its not the correct way of doing the Camino", although they also add very often that "each person should find "their" camino". Again a contradiction of ideas, which seems to derive from a need to justify doing the walk: religion, back to basics, energies, chakras, endurance...but never just for the sake of it.

Having said all the above most of the people I have met are doing El Camino just for fun and to discover new places. The fact that most use the albergues is because they are there, you meet loads of people, and they cheap. So the "purists" or "obligatory reason needed" walkers are a minority, and a such interesting to observe.

A great example is "Chakra Woman" who I have seen each day with different people and usually going on about her reason to do the Camino. She is a Swiss (Zurich) woman in her late forties, who will usually do small talk for a few minutes (where are you from? where are you going to?) before asking the important question: "so, why are you doing el Camino?".

Most people up to now have replied quite generically but mainly pointing at a lack of a main reason apart from the concept that its there to be walked.

Chakra Woman can hardly wait for the reply to finish to state the reality of life, the universal truth, the only possible reason..."I'm working on my Third Chakra Eye". She should have learnt by now that the silence that follows should not be interpreted as a request for complete details of her mysterious third friend, but she usually goes into a monologue about it. Without all the details, she basically started a course on Chakras and their energies in January 2012, and with this in her pocket she is travelling the Camino to allow her Third Eye to lead her forward. At least that's what I understood she was telling a bloke, whose jaw was dragging along the floor in surprise.
She also added that her Chakra always looks after her. The fact that she has a bad back and she has paid someone to carry all her luggage (a huge Lufthansa case) by car from hotel to hotel, seems to be forgotten. It must be a non rucksack carrying Chakra Third Eye!

If you are still reading, let's go back to the activities of the day in Pamplona.

As you remember I decided to do a mega-push (which a few people later told me they also did) in order to get to Pamplona where I could finally have some quality sleep.

The walk left me quite exhausted, but I hit the bed at 9pm and slept a good ten hours without any breaks (with exception of a five minute wake up voice from a loud american when he left at 7.45am). I actually felt as if I could keep walking but it was too late to get accommodation at an albergue, and I also wanted to enjoy the city a bit more.

My breakfast was at one of the two main tapas streets, San Nicolas (the other is Estafeta). Coffee with a "pincho de tortilla" kicked off the tapas tasting day, together with a spanish newspaper to catch up (3 euros).

Lunch was at one of the oldest cafes (if not the oldest) "Cafe Iruna" where they have a great menu for 13,50 euros (started, main, dessert, bread and water or wine - and when I say wine...its a full bottle!). I arrived at 13.30pm as their menus start at quarter past and the tables inside fill up very fast.

This was followed by an excellent siesta at the second hotel (i.e. the one I booked originally according to the walking schedule), and an early attack of tapas in a place I saw was packet the day before - "Cafe Okapi" at Estafeta.

If I remember correctly I had:
- bacalao (cod) pisto with fried mini egg
- jamon iberico with goat cheese
- pimientos fritos
- spinach roll with beschamel
All together with a drink it was 10 euros, and I was stuffed!

If we need to look for a personal target in the Camino, mine will be to try as many different tapas and types of foods as possible. I won't even start with the wines as I would need several months pilgrimage! Sufficient to say it will be difficult to find a bad one in all the route. It will be a question of price - from 2 euros upwards (and that includes a tapa in some places).

One of the problems I was carrying with me was the light cold. It had made my nights difficult and the walks less enjoyable and very sweaty. So in Pamplona I gave up trying to cure it by walking it off and bought some Frenadol cold medicine. Its basically a strong version of Iburoprofen, and mainly paracetamol with other anti-sniffing concoctions. I had one satchet mixted with water and the effect was immediate - no sniffing, coughing or sneezing...however, there are side effects to it!

Side effects are sudden hunger, followed by immense bloating when you eat something, and, grogginess. The worst side effect was probably the feeling that someone was holding your nostrils open (similar to the eyes of the criminal in the "Clockwork Orange"). Walking with a rhino nose is strange.

I noticed quite a few pilgrims had "Farmacia" (Pharmacy) plastic bags hanging from their rucksacks at this stage. They had also left quite a few things in the different albergues, which they felt were going to be of little or no use. For example, the air matress and pump which a dutch chap was carrying. About 4 kilos!

Another interesting thing was that apart from one food and drink corner shop in Pamplona, all of them were managed by Chinese. Not your typical Navarroan local.

Lots and lots of fruit shops all over the place.

In summary, a very good rest day. and just in time. I say the rest of the pilgrims arriving around noon and having to rush through or stay one night without being able to enjoy too much.

If you go to Hotel Eslava, its all acceptably nice and comfy, but you can hear a mouse fart three rooms down!
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