We are sitting in our accommodation, Hotel Bideon, in Puenta la Reina after a long and more tiring day than usual. The room is a complete contrast to the one we had last night. Rustic is a good word to describe this hotel. The whole room is about the same size as the bathroom in last night's accommodation. I have to step over my bag to move around the bed and go to the loo. It's kind of nice to have such a variety of accommodations. At least here we are right on the Camino path and pilgrims pass by beneath our window.
We walked a total of 21.5 km today starting at 10:00am and arriving just after 4:00pm. Our departure point was just outside Pamplona where we started up a gentle incline towards some hills on which stood a line of wind-powered electricity generators. These are a common sight in Spain and Garry explained that most hillsides and hilltops in Spain are not private property but belong to councils. These councils are more than happy for wind generators to be constructed as they get considerable rent from the power companies. We climbed past fields of sunflowers to a saddle where there were some sculptures representing the pilgrims who pass this way. Garry told some scare stories about the steepness of the trail on the other side and encouraged about 9 or so of the weaker walkers, Fran included, to take the bus down to the village of Uterga and then on to Muruzabal where we stopped for lunch. The weather today was very overcast and temperature was probably lucky to reach 20. Showers threatened but never eventuated but there was a cold wind which made it hard to work out what to wear. Later during the walk we passed fields of corn and many grape vines. We are approaching the province of Rioja which is famous for its wines.
After a delicious lunch we walked along a flat trail to an octagonal chapel which is said to have been established by the Knights Templar. The chapel was closed but, while we were there, the bells rang out for three o'clock. The strange thing was that neither the bells not the ropes attached to them moved. It seems that technology has caught up with even rural Spanish churches. Some of our team hopped aboard the bus again while the rest of us walked the final few kilometres into town. By this time I was suffering from some blisters which, despite the application of blister pads had formed on my Achilles tendons. This slowed me down a bit and made the final steps to the hotel somewhat painful. I will need to strap my heels tomorrow for our 12 km walk to the next stop.
Soon after arriving, while Maree was having her shower, I did some walking around the town and found the medieval bridge which gives its name to the town. It is quite impressive but no one apparently knows which queen it is dedicated too. During my walk, which took place around 5:00pm, most of the shops were closed and the town looked very dead. As I came back to the hotel I noticed that a few were opening again. In some places shops close from about 1:00pm until 5:00pm - no wonder the economy in Spain is heading down the gurgler if no one wants to work during the day.