Day 9 – Uterga to Puente la Reina

  • Distance today: 6.5 mi
  • Distance Camino 2017: 57.4 mi

We decided to go easy on our knees and feet today allowing extra recovery time following our trek up and down the Alto de Perdon yesterday. The terrain today was relatively flat with equal amounts of dirt path and pavement. The temperature stayed in low 60’s with cloudy sky’s.

We walked through Muruzabal and Obanos on the way to our destination, Puente la Reina.

Muruzabal (pop.250) is mostly a residential village surrounding an old church, Iglesia de San Esteban, which was locked when we passed.

Obanos (pop. 900) is an historic Camino town known for a murderous 14th century pilgrim legend. Duke William (Guillermo) of Aquitane and his sister Felicia undertook the Camino de Santiago. On the return journey, Felicia was overwhelmed with piety and went to become a hermit in Amocain rather than returning to her life of luxury. Her brother tracked her down and tried to convince her to return to her court duties. When she refused, he became enraged and stabbed her to death. He was then overcome by remorse and walked to Santiago again and returned to Óbanos to mourn his sister for the rest of his life. He built a hermitage on Arnotegui (a southern hilltop) to serve pilgrims and the poor. Guillermo’s silver-covered skull is kept in Iglesia San Juan Bautista.”

We stopped in Òbanos to share an orange and check on a blister. We sat on a wall in the town square facing the imposing Iglesia San Juan Bautista (Church of Saint John the Baptist), but didn’t go inside because the doors were locked. Leaving the square we walked through the town gates and past a large pelota court (pelota is a Basque version of Jai alai which is like our “hand ball” on steroids!)

We continued on to Puente la Reina. On the outskirts of town, we stopped for cafe con leche and tostadas and took a longer than usual time for breakfast, as our albergue won’t open until noon.

The first indication we were nearing the old town was the 12th century Iglesia del Crucifijo which was adjacent to a seminary. A few steps later we crossed a modern street, then began our walk through the old town.

We spotted a large gothic church belfry ahead to our right and when we got to it, entered the Iglesia de Santiago. It was beautiful but not overwhelming, actually comforting. It had a massive Romanesque doorway and inside, a Baroque retablo depicting scenes in the life of Santiago (St James), also a famous gothic statue of the “beltza Santiago” ( Basque for “black Santiago”) dressed as a pilgrim. A pilgrim’s prayer was posted in several different languages to assist prayerful pilgrims.

We then left the church and continued straight ahead until we reached the “Queen’s Bridge” and took some photos. Then, Linda guarded the bridge and our packs as Jim set off to locate our albergue.

Puente la Reina (the Queen’s Bridge) got it’s name when, in the 11th century, Sancho el Fuerte’s wife (or perhaps his successor’s wife) financed a beautiful 6-arched Romanesque bridge over the Río Arga, so pilgrims and other travelers on the Roman route could avoid expensive ferrymen and treacherous boat rides. The town of Puente la Reina grew up around the queen’s bridge, providing services and commerce for the pilgrims.

A few minutes later Jim returned, having found our albergue, and we gathered our stuff and walked to a bar a few steps from Albergue Puente and camped out until noon, checked in, got our credentials stamped and proceeded to our habitacion doble (34€).

This is one of the nicest and best organized albergue’s we have stayed in and at a very good price.

After completing our routine activities we had a snack lunch and a snack dinner (sandwiches) and read & blogged in between.

Oreo ice cream bar to finish off a great birthday celebration ! Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. It’s been one great 71st Camino party!

2 thoughts on “Day 9 – Uterga to Puente la Reina”

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