The wet streets indicated that there had been some substantial rain during the night. Greg and I both remarked that we had slept so soundly that neither of us heard it. The air felt cool and fresh, and the sun was beginning to peek through the buildings on our right shoulders as we made our way back through the city to the Camino across the rio Ega. It was here that I saw the famous steps leading up to Iglesia San Pedro. Time to stop for a picture of this.
As we proceeded west, I caught a glimpse of the castle ruins high above the town and began to reflect on the artistic glory that once flourished here.
Within a few minutes, we were intersecting with the N-111 at two roundabouts and then proceeded through the relatively modern suburbs to make our way towards Irache. Here, at the outskirts of Estella, we encountered once again the ladies from Washington who we had met in Pamplona at breakfast that last day there. While we headed up a long hill southwest of town to Ayequi, we got to know them a little better. It turns out that they were all members of the same church and attended a book club. Every year they challenged themselves to take a trip together to some part of the world. They had all watched the movie, “The Way” and were inspired to come to Spain. Their trip would be a short one however, since they were walking from Pamplona to Burgos and then returning home from there. It soon became apparent that they were experienced walkers and were travelling light, with very small packs. We stayed with them for a while, but they were outpacing even Greg. I stayed behind the pack with one of the older members of the group who was moving at about the same pace as I and had a pleasant conversation. Soon we were the Monasterio Irache to sample the outdoor fountain. By this time, it was quite crowded, and there were several large groups of bikers who were hogging the scene, each one wanting his picture taken drinking the wine. I decided that this was not that important to me and just snapped a quick picture and moved on.
After Irache, there was a steady climb up through oak and pine forests before a slight descent to Monjardin. Here, the countryside became more fascinating around each turn of the Camino. Crushed granite trails wound there way through lush green fields dotted with stunning patches of mustard.
The rain held off for most of the day as we pushed past Monjardin through seemingly endless farmland with more splendid mustard,
and the we headed down into Los Arcos.
Los Arcos is a small village of 1,300 with a long main street that winds through the narrow downtown. At the far outskirts of town, we found our Hotel, but not before passing through the Plaza de Santa Maria where we saw our Washington ladies who had already been to their hotel, showered, and were now enjoying a glass of wine at an outdoor café. The sun was beginning to break through the clouds we had experienced all day, and it was indeed welcome. Greg and I checked into Hotel Ezequiel, got cleaned up and headed for the bar on the first floor where we shot a game of pool and had a drink. We found a lounge area that had some comfortable chairs, and we sat here and communicated with home via email. Oddly enough, there was a treadmill machine in this room. Greg thought he would use it to get some exercise in prior to dinner! Not! Before long some of our acquaintances began to appear at the hotel. First were the Canadian sisters, then the German couple and finally Peter. At dinner that night we sat with Sandra, Cynthia and Peter and enjoyed their company and conversation as we shared our lives at home and experiences thus far along the way.