- Distance today: 3.6 mi
- Distance Camino 2017: 32.3 mi
We didn’t set an alarm today but were up by 6:30, got gear together, Jim paid for our room (38€) and we had breakfast at our lunch, dinner and now breakfast bar. The staff seems to know us by now but our side of the communication is limited to scattered Spanish nouns and verbs and we wish we had a better clue to what they were saying to us! That will improve, hopefully, as we assimilate over the next two months.
Breakfast completed, we left Zubiri and rejoined the Camino around 7:45.
Today is a short walk by design. We will be spending tonight in the hamlet of Akerreta and staying in the hotel by the same name which is located in a restored 1723 Basque farm house. It’s only 3.6 miles from Zubiri. Several of the scenes in the 2010 film, “The Way”, starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, which tells a story centered around the Camino Frances, were filmed at the Hotel Akerreta. It’s a little pricey (82€), but having stopped here in 2013 for a break, we decided to include it as a stopover during Camino 2017.
Shortly after leaving Zubiri, we skirted a large Magna magnesium quarry and ore processing facility. We followed the paved road incline and afterward some steep steps down in order to go around the facility. Northern Spain seems to have a reasonable amount of heavy and light industry, but normally it is not visible from the Camino. The Magna organization apparently appreciates this, as the fence along the road where pilgrims pass was covered with an artificial dark green grass that was more pleasing to the eye and buffered much of the machine and equipment noise in the facility. Jim was also impressed with the Magna truck drivers moving the magnesium ore into and out of the complex. They were cautiously aware of passing pilgrims and slowed down, giving us the right-of-way.
Another mile or so along the way we entered the hamlet of Ilarratz. Attached to one of the several beautiful homes was a public outdoor drinking-water spigot, sheltered from the sun and with generous seating.
We stopped for a brief rest and chatted with two bicycles pilgrims, Willie & James. James is originally from Korea and now lives in Toronto, Canada. Willie is originally from El Salvador, then Toronto and currently lives with his wife, whose family is Basque, in the Basque Autonomous Community capital of Vitoria/Gasteiz in Northern Spain. James and Willie met while attending the same church in Toronto.
We arrived at Akerreta about 10:30 as the last of the previous night’s guests was checking out. Our room will not be ready until around 1:00. The proprietor said they normally close the hotel until that time to allow for cleaning and because they don’t offer lunch or non-guest services, they keep the front door locked. Ironically they don’t cater to pilgrims, because as an upscale B&B they are too expensive for 90+% of pilgrims.
But, the proprietor apologized and gave us the door code and said we were welcome to sit inside or outside to wait and were free to use the restrooms. We opted to sit outside and shortly one of the housekeepers brought us two cafe con leches and gave us the wifi password. We were pleased with their willingness to cater to our basic needs prior to checking in. And it kept us busy until our room was ready.
At 1:05 we were ushered to our very nice room and began our arrival/afternoon routine.
Because the hotel has no lunch option for us and the hamlet has no bars or other services, we haven’t decided, if anything, what we will do for lunch. Dinner is at 8:00!
Our growling stomachs compelled us to get lunch. The miracle of wifi pointed us to Larrasoaña, just a half mile from Akerreta. So Jim ventured out into the 91 degree heat, a took a relatively short walk, secured some items from a small market and returned with lunch for today and breakfast items for tomorrow morning.
Our hotel has a nice breakfast served between 8:00-10:00, which is not an option as we would like to be up and walking by 6:30. The room rate is 82€ including breakfast, but we will likely end up paying for it and not getting breakfast, as we would rather get an earlier start to avoid walking several extra hours in the mid-day August heat. Such is the Camino, Our Way 2017.
Our dinner tonight (28€) was a dining experience. Everything was fresh, organic and beautiful prepared. The tomatoes were full of flavor, locally grow from seeds of fruit from the previous season. The beef melted in your mouth and the sauce was so good Jim requested extra bread to make sure none made it back to the kitchen. Linda consulted with the proprietor on preparation techniques and we’ll definite try to duplicate it when we return home! The Navarre wine perfectly complemented the meal which concluded with a delicious homemade mango ice cream.
Sated beyond our wildest expectations, we retired to our room to conclude another extraordinary day on the Camino Frances.