There was only one way that I was ever going to end up in Larrasoana, by walking the early stages of the Camino de Santiago. I had already hiked from the starting point of Saint-Jean-Pied de-Port to Roncesvalles and then from Roncesvalles onto Larrasoana, meaning that today would be my third day of the journey and one that I was very much looking forward to, as I would be hiking to Pamplona, the first city along the route. And after three days of crossing mountains, walking through forest, farmland, green hills and isolated villages, I was already beginning to crave some bustle, a little bit of noise, nightlife and streets with a pulse.
It's a nice feeling waking up in a town like Larrasoana. I awoke to the sound of roosters and church bells but apart from that, the town was near silent. I continued through the town, having one last look at the old stone Basque houses and the church with the bell tower before I made my way back into the countryside, following the yellow arrows on walls and signposts that guide you to the next town along the entire route of the Camino. I passed through another couple of small villages as the path led me into a dense forest where I was shaded from the sun by tall but narrow trees, and then across a stone bridge where fresh and cold water flowed over stones that seemed to be covering the entire bed of the shallow river.
I had spent the morning hiking with a Belgian and an Australian who I had met the day before during a short rest in the village of Burgette. There we had gone for a beer at what was once an old hangout of the writer Ernest Hemingway. By now however, we had lost each other somewhere along the path and I found myself alone hiking up the side of a modest-sized mountain where I walked past what looked like an abandoned church and farmhouse. This was shortly before descending to arrive at La Trinidad de Arre, which is a small church and albergue at the end of a beautiful stone bridge in the suburbs of Pamplona. From this point onwards, the countryside soon turned into city streets.
There is no more of an epic way to arrive in Pamplona than via the path of the Camino de Santiago. As I arrived in a green riverside area of the city, I entered via the old city walls which have stood since the early 1500s, and passed through the 'Portal de Francia' to enter the old town as many pilgrims had done before me for centuries. I relied on following other hikers to reach the Albergue Jesús y María, a former church and school for priests built in 1782 and situated on a quiet backstreet in the historical centre.
[Cover image credit: © iStock/Stanislava Karagyozova]
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