Day 4 – Roncesvalles to Bizkarreta

Walked today : 7.8 miles

Walked Camino 2019 : 29.2 miles

We left Roncesvalles in a light drizzle at 7:30…

and stopped 2 miles later in Burguete (pop. 290) for breakfast.

After cappuccino and toast (cafe con leche) we continued walking thru the village and for about 5 minutes, we were confronted by thunder, lightning, a light drizzle, hail, but thankfully, no swarming locusts. About 3 miles later, in the booming metropolis of Epinal (pop.249) we stopped again at a small bar for more cafe con leche and to avoid another passing (we hoped) storm.

Walking among pastures after Burguete
A new born colt with mama
“Why did the peregrina cross the road?”
Down … on a paved sidewalk! for nearly 1/2 mile

We continued on, like a rollercoaster, up and down various paths until arriving at Bizkarreta (pop. 25), our destination for the day. By now, the sun was out with no signs of future precipitation.

We stopped for lunch at a Bar/Alberge/Mercado on the edge of the village and then walked another couple hundred yards to…

… Amatxi Elsa, a casa rural (B&B) and our home for tonight. We stayed here in 2017 and learned that it’s owned and hosted by a congenial couple (Jorge and Elsa) from Argentina. Our only means of communication is hand and facial gestures and translation apps.

We washed sweaty clothes, hung them out to dry in the bright sun/dry air. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to naps, blog and chillin’.

Dinner (12€/) was exceptional and homemade this afternoon by Elsa. Spinach in puff pastry, marinated chicken breasts w/ fresh, crisp garden salad,

fresh apple filled crepes garnished with caramel for dessert

complimented with a smooth, Navarra wine.(8€)

Day 3 – Virge d’Baikorri to Roncesvalles

Walked today: 6.2 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 21.4 miles

It was 51 degrees and heavy fog when our driver picked us up at 7:30, but as we retraced yesterday’s steps via car, he explained in French that before we reached the Virge d’ Baikorri, the fog and clouds would be replaced by a beautiful, clear sky.

We’ll let you decide if he was correct:

The Virge d’Baikorri is at an elevation of around 3600 ft. That means we climbed over 3000 ft yesterday (Linda’s Fitbit rated it equal to 265 floors!)

Some scenes along the way to the top this morning:

Roland’s Fountain at the France/Spain border
Cattle/sheep/horse guard marks the border
A marker among many for former pilgrims who died on Camino
Sheep are just about everywhere you turn

This emergency shelter served us well in Sep 2012 in midst of cold, driving rain storm.

Looking back on the shelter as we move on upward

When we reached Col de Lepoeder this morning, the highest point on the Camino Frances at 4700 ft, we had climbed another 1100 ft! And immedately, we began the descent to Roncesvalles at 3100 ft. This was a drop of 1600 ft over a distance of 3km (1.8 miles)… about as steep downhill as the climb yesterday.

The highest spot on the Camino – 4700 ft
Heading down to Roncesvalles
Distant view of Santa Maria la Real built by Sancho VII in 1219!
Roncesvalles in foreground
One last stretch if downhill to Roncesvalles (pop. 30)
Hotel Roncesvalles, a restored medieval hospital
Alberge Roncesvalles- one of newest and largest on Camino
13th century Capilla de Santiago

Switching from uphill to downhill in such a dramatic fashion tested our bodies and left us totally spent, when we arrived at Roncesvalles( pop. 30) shortly after noon.

We survived today’s walk which should make us stronger, if old sayings are true.

Today was a little strange for us. Our walking pace is about half of most pilgrims, consequently, there are normally hoards of pilgrims that pass us during our daily walk. But because today our starting point was in between normal starting points, we only saw 2 pilgrims during the entire 4 hour walk.

We’re staying in Hotel Roncesvalles(68€), also known as “Casa de Beneficiados”, a beautifully upgraded Children’s Hospital. This will be our 6th stay since 2012, since we’ve started or finished here because of its location.

Our room is very upscale and comfortable. We had our clothes washed and dried for 10€, a delicious local cuisine dinnerware, including Navarre wine for 10€ each and a relaxing afternoon and evening.