August 9, 2013
Ok, where was I? Oh yeah. Leaving Doha and flying to Madrid. Piece of cake. The plane was more crowded than Jakarta-Doha but I still got my favorite seat – aisle on the exit row. The middle seat was occupied by Nicole, who had also flown in from Indo after spending time with her family in Oz and Bali. Nicole is a recent real estate school graduate so we had quite a bit to talk about. Her trip is eight months long, so I felt like a lightweight only being a gone a month. I felt better when she picked up her 75 liter pack from the carousel. I’ve seen sherpas carry less.
Going through immigration and customs is ridiculously easy. I think it took about two minutes. Nice change from Indo and the good ole USA. Grabbed some euros at the ATM, bought my train ticket to Pamplona and asked about my refund at the Qatar Air counter. They sent me to their downtown office which was right on the way to the train station. Said it was open until 6 pm.
I moved efficiently via commuter train and foot and arrived at the office a few minutes after 5. Guess what? The office closed at 5. Qatar is making it very difficult to get my refund. I actually think it was a long shot because i didn’t have the credit card with me but I wanted to give it a try nonetheless. Kath will try one more time in Bali.
My train to Pamplona left at 7:30 pm and it arrived right on time at 10:40. A quick cab ride to the Hotel Eslava and I was sleeping by 11:00.
Today was an up and down day. I slept well until 3 am and then off and on until 6. Not bad after a 6-hour time change. It took me quite a while to get going. Lots of organizational stuff. I had never put all my gear in my pack before but it actually swallowed everything well. It’s still less than 15 pounds so I’m happy. After a leisurely breakfast, I wandered around Pamplona for a bit. Checked out a new pilgrim equipment store that opened since we were here last year. Turns out the shop owner led a student group to Orange County last year and stayed in Newport Beach/Costa Mesa. I’d say “small world” but you already know that.
After that I really had a hard time getting going. Lots of bathroom breaks (TMI) and looking at this and that. Finally left the center at 9:15. t’s a beautiful walk out of Pamplona through the university campus. You’re quickly into the countryside and slowly climbing the famous Alto de Perdon, which has the iron pilgrim sculpture and wind farm. It’s not a bad climb (spoiler alert) because you actually go olver the shoulder of the peak rather than the top.
By this time I had shaken off my early morning blues and was cruising along singing and whistling. I moved along from town to town, walking alone and greeting other pilgrims when we passed. I got to Uterga still feeling great so I continued on Obanos. It’s only 4.4 km but I really hit the wall during that stretch. Dragged my butt into town and grabbed a bed at the first albergue. It was 3 pm and I had walked 21.8 km or about 13+ miles.
More later, I have to hit the road…