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Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago: Roncesvalles to Zubiri

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that this summer, I spent 9 days walking around 180km along the Camino de Santiago, from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Logroño in Spain. I wrote a Q&A post in response to some of the questions people had asked me along the way already but had so many people ask me if I was going to blog about the entire experience that I’ve decided to make this a nine part series over the next 3 months or so. Noone wants to read a recap featuring 100s of photos and 1000s of words and I feel like this might be more helpful for people who are looking for information about the specific stages. This is Part 3 (Parts 1 and 2 linked at the end of this post).

Camino Frances Day 3: Roncesvalles to Zubiri (approx 24km)

The day started well at the Hotel Roncesvalles breakfast buffet…

Breakfast at Hotel Roncesvalles on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe’d already established that stopping for lunch when we were walking wasn’t really an option (generally nowhere to stop at the right time but even if there had been, it would have been hard to eat a meal and keep on walking, often quite far…) so a hearty breakfast was very much appreciated. We left the hotel around 8am – SO MUCH LATER than so many people (we could hear the “tap tap” of walking sticks on the cobblestones as early at 6am!) but were still in a fairly large group – especially compared to the previous two days when we had not seen a single person on the Camino!

Leaving Roncesvalles on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comIt was a little bit misty and raining a little when we set out but we consoled ourselves that at least we only had 24ish kilometres to go…

At the beginning on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe first part of this day was fairly easy walking – on trails or in small towns.

En route for Espinal on forest path on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com In Burguete on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comWith so many people walking added to the fact that we were off the “alternate route” we had taken the previous two days, meaning that there were SO many more signs, it was pretty hard to get lost…

Burguete on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comLeaving Espinal on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comCamino signs on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comWe had some bovine company along the way…

On the road to Espinal on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd walked through some very charming little towns…

Espinal on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com Casa Garete in Burguete on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com Viskarret on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comOccasionally there was a little confusion…

Which way on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comBut for the most part, this was very well sign-posted…

En route for Espinal on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com Forked road on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comVery hard to get lost on this leg, for sure.

Yvonne and I were still learning to read between the lines of John Brierley’s “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago so hadn’t really expected any part of this day to be too challenging although we soon learned that when he uses the [!] it really does mean “Look out!” – often it refers to steep or slippery parts of the trail or somewhere you might miss the turnoff. Also, we started to see that there was information missing that we might have liked to know. For example, in Linzoain, it’s the last “real” town before you get to Zubiri 8km later (and they are tough kilometres too). Perhaps the lone taxi sign should have been a tip off of what was to come…

Looking for taxis in Linzoain on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com(no, we didn’t get a taxi!)

It was a lovely day as far as the terrain was concerned, for the most part…

Cat in Linzoain on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com Camino shell signs on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com View on route to Alto de Erro on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com Forest path to Alto de Erro on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com Abandoned shoe on the road to Alto de Erro on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comThere is a fair amount of climbing this day – though you start the day at 955m and end it at around 500m above sea level, you are going up and down for most of the day. The Café Móvil in Alto de Erro is a welcome sight…

Sighting cafe movil in Alto de Erro on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com Cafe Movil in Alto de Erro on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.com(yes, seriously – you emerge from the lovely woodland to find a major road and a food truck!)

We didn’t stop at this one for anything since we could see we still had some 5km to go and it was going to be all downhill (described as a “steep rocky outcrop” with a [!] to boot!). Yvonne sensibly suggested we just get going which we did…

the road to Zubiri from Roncesvalles on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comOf course this looks NOTHING like as hard as it was. The terrain was very steep and the rocks were loose meaning you really had to focus. This went on for well over an hour, maybe 90 minutes (yeah, for 5km!!!). Finally, we were VERY happy to see the tiny town of Zubiri in the distance…

Spotting Zubiri on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comCould it be….?

Arriving in Zubiri on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comYES!!!

We were thrilled to find our guest house was the very first one on the way into town and were soon relaxing and resting our weary feet with this view:

View from Zubiaren Etxea on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comZubiri is a TINY town and there is not much to do. We were still so tired after our siesta that we didn’t want to sit around in one of the two bars that was open and wait until 9pm to eat so we headed out in search of early dinner which we found at the delightful hostel/ restaurant El Pallo de Avellano.  Yup, 7pm might be considered lunch time for the Spaniards but for us it was perfect!

Pilgrim meal fresco in Zubiri on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comA quick stroll back to the guest house offered us this view at 8.30pm:

Zubiri by night on Camino de Santiago on eatlivetravelwrite.comVerdict?

This was a difficult day but mostly because I think we hadn’t really tuned into the whole “walking” part of this. I’ve never been on a walking holiday before so I didn’t really know how to read the guide book. Turns out it’s very different to the way I would write the guide book (I’d be a bit more descriptive about some of the stages and also include useful information like “This is your last bathroom stop for 8km” because that’s the sort of thing I need to know!) and I guess I only really started paying attention to those [!] after Day 3 (this day).  We were much more savvy as the trip went on, to be sure!  This day might have been better if we’d left a little earlier so that we weren’t tackling those last difficult 5km in the blazing sun (though it was preferable to rain!) but honestly it’s all just part of the experience. And, in hindsight, just preparing us for the days to come!!

Stay tuned in a couple of weeks for the next instalment – Zubiri to Pamplona. Featuring more sun and all the jamón ?

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Disclosure: I researched Camino trips independently and chose the Camino Travel Center based on a number of features such as flexibility to accommodate a couple of “splits” in some of the longer days, price and customer service. They were, in fact the first company I came across in my very first Google search and the one I ended up booking with. From the initial inquiry to the actual trip, they were a pleasure to deal with and we were very impressed with the service provided (bag transportation) and the accommodation choices. I was not compensated to write about this trip in any way but I love sharing companies and products I believe in with my readers. I couldn’t recommend the Camino Travel Center more and, in fact, am looking at booking another Camino walk with them in the future.

Please note: This post contains product links from Amazon which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
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Read more about the Camino de Santiago:

Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – questions and answers
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 1: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Valcarlos
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 2: Valcarlos to Roncesvalles
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 3: Roncesvalles to Zubiri
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 4: Zubiri to Pamplona
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 5: Pamplona to Puente la Reina
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 6: Puente la Reina to Estella
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 7: Estella to Los Arcos
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 8: Los Arcos to Viana
Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago – Day 9: Viana to Logroño

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Walking (part of) the Camino de Santiago: Roncesvalles to Zubiri

  1. Geoff September 19, 2016 at 18:53 #

    Very nice post, Mardi. Gives a really good idea of the day. Thank you

    • Mardi Michels September 20, 2016 at 05:26 #

      Thanks! It’s funny, as I am writing these posts, all I can think is “When can I go back?” !

  2. Kavey September 22, 2016 at 13:13 #

    That downward scramble at the end looks pretty tough but more glorious scenery and little towns along the way!

    • Mardi Michels September 22, 2016 at 21:44 #

      Yes, thankfully there was a lot of nice scenery on this day!

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