Day 1 Pamplona – Cizur Menor 6 km
We chose the French way or Camino Frances. It is the yellow route in my previous post. This way starts in France, from many places, but the most popular one starts in St. Jean Pied de Port – a small village close to the border with Spain. After climbing a part of the Pirinees, you reach Spain. We started 70 km ahead, in Pamplona. I don’t know why our journey started there, it just happened.
Pamplona is a beautiful university city with a population of 200,000. It is patronated by San Fermin who gave the name of the San Fermin festival, the one with the people running away from the bulls or hurting the bulls. There’s too much blood there for me. This festival became famous in the whole world because Ernest Hemingway wrote about it in his book ‘The Sun Also Rises’ in 1926. If you want to check it out, the festival takes place from the 6th to the 14th of july.
I was nervous. I could not understand how we will start the journey. We were visiting some relatives in Spain and we reached Pamplona by car. We literally got out of a limousine right on the camino. That was a fancy start. I had a lot of questions. Where are we going? How are we doing it? Where do we start? Somehow these questions were mine only, and I walked curious behind my mom. I knew we had to buy the pilgrims’ credentials. This is the thing where we keep all the stamps gathered along the way from churches, bars and albergues. With this credential or pilgrims passport we were allowed to sleep in cheap pilgrim hostels. We reached the albergue Jesus y Maria where we bought our credentials. I have to mention the fact that in Spain, the pilgrim hostels are called albergue and I am going to call them that way. We took our first pilgrim pictures and we started to walk. We have to follow the shells-signs and the yellow arrows. The shell is the pilgrim’s symbol because the camino ends at Fisterra, the end of Terra, the end of the world, at the seaside. Most pilgrims have a big shell on their backpack. I thought that it was heavy and I replaced it with a much lighter shell-shaped pin. We found the road and started walking. We walked in a normal city, like normal tourists. After a while, at about 2 o’clock pm, I had walked enough to feel like a pilgrim.
But my mom, had a surprise for me. Five years ago, when she walked the camino for the first time, she stopped in Pamplona for a cafe in a very nice plaza and she wanted to go there again. We did not know the name of the plaza but we turned around, being tourists again and started looking for it. It was Plaza del Castillo. We found it finally. I find this very funny now but back than I was angry at my mother. She had her coffee, I had a green tea and than we met the tapas. I thought it was something sweet when I saw the lady from another table eating it but it was a small sandwich with cheese, some pepper and octopus.
We started walking again. This time we really got out the city, passing through the university area. I liked it a lot there. There were a lot of trees and nice green scenery. We meet other pilgrims and we salute and talk like we had known each other our whole lives.
We continue walking on the sidewalk of the main road and we reach Cizur Menor. I was surprised but the walking day was over. We checked in, in a small albergue. I find out that the host is not paid, he does volunteer work. I also found out that all the hosts are volunteers. I discovered what is the pilgrim ritual after walking: shower, then washing my clothes. Happily I find a place near the church, from where I can see the whole city. This is a great place to meditate and to practice yoga. The rest of the day is free. I just have to find something to eat and a glass of red wine. That’s a little bit difficult in a village with no stores.
In the albergue there are also 3 french guys, Antoine, a nice girl and another guy. Unfortunately I don’t know their names. I go outside to read a few pages from my book about happiness, but unlucky me, a very chatty lady from US comes and sits next to me. She walks the camino with her 19 years old daughter. She paid me a very nice compliment, saying that I am in my early twenties. She explains how difficult her first days of camino were and how much her feet hurt. I cannot resist and I tell her that I started the camino 2 hours ago and I was really fresh.
There is another girl here, Andreea from Hungary. She has lots of problems with her ankle which is swollen and also with her muscles. She is in big pain, poor her.
Meanwhile my mom makes some friends, a group of italians. They are older than her, but they are really nice and they want to cook pasta. So I leave with my mom and Fausto towards the next village to buy food. After one hour I can already understand and speak italian. I am glad. They cook pasta with tuna and I find them not that good, but later I would have found out that I cannot find the best food on the camino. I stopped craving good food. I just wanted food.
This was my first day. Instead of 6 km we walked about 12, but I felt great. My inner thoughts are way better than yesterday.