It was 50 degrees when we checked out of our hotel at 8:00. On our walk to the bus station we stopped for a leasurely breakfast at a nice cafe,
then continued to the bus station a little after 9:00 and departed the Pamplona “Estacion Bus” at 10:05.
As our bus driver navigated through the maze of clean, tree-lined streets and high-rise neighborhoods and corporate office and commercial areas of the city, we were left with a very positive impression of Pamplona. Our previous Camino stays in 2013, 2014, 2017 revealed a vibrant city, where, like other communities along the Camino, young and young at heart citizens are enjoying a quality & affordable life together. Pamplona’s undergirding of a historical tradition of local governance and self-sufficiency and an aversion to excessive state intervention for nearly 2 millennia have served it well. Our previous observations of economic stability have been reinforced by even stronger signs of economic growth and freedom as we concluded our 2019 visit. Pamplona is one of our favorite places on the planet and probably a very nice place to live, work and enjoy good quality of life.
A two lane winding state highway carried us from the city limits for about 30 minutes, covering the first 20 miles of our 45 mile journey.
Then without warning, we began our ascent up, then over, then steeply down the Pyrennes mountain range, taking 1 hr 15 minutes to cover the remaining 25 miles. The road consisted solely of switchbacks, some a full 180 degrees.
Even averaging less than 20 mph, the drive was a magnificent test for one’s ability to avoid motion sickness. We just barely passed the test.
It was 82 degrees when we exited the bus in St Jean Pied de Port at 11:45. A welcomed 10 minute walk, on solid ground, took us to our Hotel Itzalpea (86€/nt) and a nice comfortable room immediately ready for occupancy!
After dropping our packs in the room and a brief break, we moseyed around SJPDP making arrangements for a rendezvous with a taxi at the Virge de Baikorri tomorrow afternoon to bring us back to our hotel in SJPDP (there currently is only one taxi service based in this small medieval village).
A visit to the pilgrim (pélerin in French, peregrino in Spanish) office to get our credentials stamped, verifying our official start tomorrow of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela ( Frances) was delayed when a note on the closed door announced the re-opening of the office after a lunch break at 1:30, so when in SJPDP do as the SJPDPians do, so we paused for salads at a nearby restaurant, which were simply, delicious.
We crashed until venturing out once again, this time to a creperie (obviously, French) and had another simply delicious meal.
Alarm is set for 6:30 a.m. tomorrow (first light at 7:00) to finally get Camino 2019 underway.