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LIVE from the Camino Liz and Tom on the Vasco

Past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Well here goes. We are in Irun and will start walking tomorrow. We are staying at Pension Europa. It’s pretty basic and over priced for its condition (60 euro for a double). It’s also in an area that is a bit iffy — I’m not sure I’d feel comfy if I was on my own. But the room is clean and breakfast (for 6.75 euros if arranged in advance) was very good (cheese, ham, a muffin, an apple, orange juice, toast and coffee!). It also has the benefit of being very close to our starting point on the Puente Santiago.

We had a bunch of errands to do as we transitioned from serving as hospitaleros to being pilgrims. Once these were completed we wandered around town. We had a nice lunch at The Museum, a little bar and food place next to the Oiasso Museum. I’d highly recommend it.

Tomorrow we are planning to walk to Astigarraga (about 22 km). I’ve booked Pension Astigarraga so we can take our time. We are pokes on the best of days but tomorrow will be the first test of our joint replacements and it’s a fairly up and down stage.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Drats, I wanted to be the first one to say WOO HOO and buen camino. Can’t wait to hear how it goes from you and how beautiful it is. I walked a few weeks after VN and we both had steady rain that first day, so based on what I see on weather.com, you are going to have a much better start!

Irún is such a funny town. Not sure why their very mediocre accommodations are so expensive!

Looking forward to following along, buen camino, Laurie
 
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WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
Buen Camino!! Seems like some good weather for the walk as well this week! Looking forward to hearing you're experiences on the trail. I still miss it :)
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Day 1. I’m starting this post while Tom takes his shower. He won the coin toss and gets to go first! Today was a wonderful and difficult day. We ended up taking a cab from Santiagomendi to our Pension. I said last night we were booked at Pension Astigarraga, but really we were booked at Pension Txinguri. It feels like the lap of luxury here. A regular double bed, and very nice room. I just got my shower and it was fabulous! Hard, hot, roomy. Mmmmmm!

The good news is that my ankle replacement did great and that Tom did not have any neck issues with his disc replacements. The bad news is that my recently injured knee was giving me some problems and in the interest of continuing to walk, we decided I should skip the steep 2 km downhill from Santiagomemdi. Hence the cab.

It was a glorious day, sunny and clear. The only negative was that it was quite warm 27 C (about 82 F)

The Basque countryside is glorious and the entire day was on small county roads and forest paths. The highlight was that in Oiartzun they were having a fiesta. We think it was celebrating something related to Basque Independence, but as everyone was speaking Basque, not Spanish, we missed a lot. But it was wonderful, basque dances in traditional dress to a flute and drum, community groups performing (there was a group dressed in traditional Palestinian garb doing what I assume were traditional Palestinian dances and an African group doing African dances. There were kids and families everywhere. The people watching was great and they loved having pilgrims be part of the celebration.

As far as the route goes, the marking was good but we were glad to have gps tracks (we are using gps for the first time — thanks to forum friends for the coaching!) Spring has brought lots of plant growth and key arrows were covered up with weeds, grass and bushes. I think we would have been ok without the gps, but it helped in a couple places where we couldn’t see markers til after we decided which way to go.

We found the way challenging but good to Iturriotz. There were some steep ups and some steep downs. But my knee difficulties started after Iturriotz. There we several very rocky, very steep and very slippery ups and downs. They weren’t long, but I was navigating them at a snail’s pace trying to guard against twisting my knee. One, just after Irurriotz (following a lovely waterfall and two stone bridges) had round, slime covered 6-8 inch rocks up a steep incline for what seemed like forever. The heat, our fatigue the upcoming steep and long downhill into Astigarraga was too much!

One other note. There is a lovely looking bar between Iturriotz and Restaurant Listoreta/Bar Borda Berri, called Anerra Zara. It was closed so I don’t know if it’s still operating, but it had a great shady yard with picnic tables. Also, just before Santiagomendi is a bar that serves food — Bar Fransilla.

Here are some pics from our day:
 

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Past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Day 2. Oh boy was today a slog but with some lovely high points. First things first. We are in Tolosa and are staying at Pension Karmentxu. It seems good. The owner is a lovely older woman. Our room is clean, comfy and basic. The bathrooms were OK. The nice thing was having the whole thing to your self. It is 50 euro for two of us, and they are on WhatsApp. We texted at noon today to make sure they had availability.

Last night we had a lovely dinner — Basque Hamburgers, yummy and very different from US burgers. We are at Bar Restaurante Ibai-Lur, just across the street from Pension Txingurri. It was a family type place and we loved watching some kids with the group next to us.

So back to the slog. It was 22C/72F when we left Astigarraga at 7 am. When we walked through Andoian the temp sign on the pharmacy said it was 31C/88F at noon. The walk was all on tile sidewalks or asphalt with very little cover, especially in the afternoon. It was a relatively easy walk through an industrial area of Spain.

The highlights were the people. We got croissants at a bakery in Hernani, and the owner told us were the only coffee shop open on Sunday morning was located. The coffee shop was great, on the main square across from the town hall. And the bonus was they had good tea (not Hornimen’s). Tom doesnot drink coffee (I know…..this is so sad for him). So he has to limp through Spain drinking Te Negro, which , as my British grandmother would say, is just “water bewitched”! A cafe with really good British tea is a keeper!

Anyway while there we met a German pilgrim who was walking the Norte. He had been unable to find lodging in San Sebastián and had taken the commuter rail to a pension in Hernani!

Along the route, we talked to many locals who were unfailingly kind. Telling us where the next fountain was, how far to the next town, their own Camino story! It was just great. We encountered a road race in Andoain accompanied by a fiesta.

A couple route notes: At thevey end of Urnieta across from the strip mine there is a bar that was open at 10:30 Sunday morning. In between Andoin and Zizurkil are a couple of bars near the factories. They were closed on Sunday but looked like they would be open on weekdays. There also is a fountain on this stretch. There is a fountain on the left after you cross the RR tracks just before Anoeta and one at the little park just as you turn into town. Finally, after Anoeta there was another bar in the factories.

Here are som pics from the day.
 

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Past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Past OR future Camino
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Day 3.

Today was just lovely. We got started early in cool misty weather. We are staying at the albergue in Beasain and it lives up to the recommendations — really lovely and the hospitalero is great.

I am sorry to report @SabineP and @VNwalking, that we could not eat at taberna AMA last night as it is closed on Sundays. Actually almost everything was closed on Sunday in Tolosa, so we ate at the only place we could find, Meile Meile, a burger place (again). The burgers were good, though. We couldn’t find an open store to get yogurt for the morning so we had to settle for a Basque pastry. It and an orange were yummy this morning.

The route today continued on the bike path but was much nicer than yesterday. There was less industry and lovely country side. The villages we walked through were lovely. Nothing past Tolosa opened until 9:30 so we had to walk a long way for our second breakfast. We got coffee, tea and a great egg BofA dill o in Itsasondo. And best of all we met two more pilgrims walking the Vasco. They are from Valencia and started in Hernani.

Here are some pics from the day:
 

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Past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Day 4. Wow. Today was absolutely beautiful! We finally got off the bike path for the first 2/3 of the day. The path was mostly small country roads or granite paths. There was one very short difficult climb up some muddy round rocks, and about 1 km of steep “stepping stones ( that were uneven, out of place and loose 🙄). There was a steep 2km climb out of Beasain and a shorter one out of Idiazabal. But nothing that was too much.

The signs were good today and we did not need to get consult the gps until just before Zegama. At the very beginning of the town outskirts there is a fountain. Then the bike path comes out to the highway. At this point there are yellow arrows going both directions. To make matters more confusing, to the left there are yellow X’s painted on a sign. But if you go to the right you end up at a yellow arrow pointing to a closed gate. The correct path is to go to the left and stay on the bike path all the way into town.

We had pinxtos for supper last night at Restaurante Blai in Beasain — very good. Today we had cuajada ( one of my Spanish favs) and oranges for breakfast at the albergue. We also were able to brew a lovely cup of tea there ( Tom walks with a stash of English Breakfast Tea bags in his pack). We were walking by 7:00.

We stopped at a really pretty bar in Olabierria for coffee (they were open at 8:20) but they did not serve food. We stopped again at the little cafe where the path breaks out into Idiazabal.

The scenery today was spectacular, lush farms, distant mountains, sheep, cattle and goats grazing. And once again, lovely people. One guy doubled back on his own walk to make sure we didn’t miss a turn. Another shouted Buen Camino from his car window!

It was another hot day — 29C/@85F! So we were glad to get to Zegama at 2:00

Tonight we are at Pension Zegama, 55€ for a double. It seems quite nice. We plan to walk over to see the new albergue later. Meanwhile, here are some pics from today.
 

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Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
Gorgeous pics!!
One guy doubled back on his own walk to make sure we didn’t miss a turn. Another shouted Buen Camino from his car window!
That really stood out for us too, how friendly people were in the first days of the Vasco, wishing us a buen camino or correcting a wrong turn.

And tomorrow...
I can't wait to read your impressions of it. With food and water for a picnic, and your trusty gps, you can't go wrong.

Buen camino, amiga!
 
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06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Day 4. Wow. Today was absolutely beautiful! We finally got off the bike path for the first 2/3 of the day. The path was mostly small country roads or granite paths. There was one very short difficult climb up some muddy round rocks, and about 1 km of steep “stepping stones ( that were uneven, out of place and loose 🙄). There was a steep 2km climb out of Beasain and a shorter one out of Idiazabal. But nothing that was too much.

The signs were good today and we did not need to get consult the gps until just before Zegama. At the very beginning of the town outskirts there is a fountain. Then the bike path comes out to the highway. At this point there are yellow arrows going both directions. To make matters more confusing, to the left there are yellow X’s painted on a sign. But if you go to the right you end up at a yellow arrow pointing to a closed gate. The correct path is to go to the left and stay on the bike path all the way into town.

We had pinxtos for supper last night at Restaurante Blai in Beasain — very good. Today we had cuajada ( one of my Spanish favs) and oranges for breakfast at the albergue. We also were able to brew a lovely cup of tea there ( Tom walks with a stash of English Breakfast Tea bags in his pack). We were walking by 7:00.

We stopped at a really pretty bar in Olabierria for coffee (they were open at 8:20) but they did not serve food. We stopped again at the little cafe where the path breaks out into Idiazabal.

The scenery today was spectacular, lush farms, distant mountains, sheep, cattle and goats grazing. And once again, lovely people. One guy doubled back on his own walk to make sure we didn’t miss a turn. Another shouted Buen Camino from his car window!

It was another hot day — 29C/@85F! So we were glad to get to Zegama at 2:00

Tonight we are at Pension Zegama, 55€ for a double. It seems quite nice. We plan to walk over to see the new albergue later. Meanwhile, here are some pics from today.
Cuajada. Want the best one?
It needs a little bit of a detour from Pamplona, or else you can hunt for it on the way to Pamplona, maybe at the end of the Baztán? I am not sure, but I know one of the routes passes very close by, as it is really close to Pamplona.
I am sure though that it is the best! (In my experience!)
I have been fortunate enough to have had many visits to that family establishment over the years. I attach a link to their website, a testimony to the growth from a small effort by a mother to provide for her family to the flourishing place it is at present. I have no vested interest, beyond the many enjoyable meals I have had there.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
It needs a little bit of a detour from Pamplona, or else you can hunt for it on the way to Pamplona, maybe at the end of the Baztán?
Wow, @kirkie! I wish we'd known about this when walking the Baztan. It's 2 km from the Santiago chapel just after cresting the Belate pass. It'd be a super lunch spot, or even a place to stay.
The only downside being to get to Lantz you'd have to either walk part of the way along a busy road, or backtrack the 2kms to pick up the camino again. Hey @Rebekah Scott , is this the way you went? (The start is the capilla, no1 is Venta de Ultzama, the end is Lantz. The Baztan is the blue line going more directly to Lantz - it's a cobbly ancient road part of the way, so if your legs hate that, this is an alternative.)
20220517_202110.jpg
Sorry for the sidetrack,@ebrandt !
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Gorgeous pics!!

That really stood out for us too, how friendly people were in the first days of the Vasco, wishing us a buen camino or correcting a wrong turn.

And tomorrow...
I can't wait to read your impressions of it. With food and water for a picnic, and your trusty gps, you can't go wrong.

Buen camino, amiga!
Now that I’m here and looking at the formidable wall, it’s a bit daunting. 800 meters in 8km! I keep saying slow but sure!😮❤️
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Cuajada. Want the best one?
It needs a little bit of a detour from Pamplona, or else you can hunt for it on the way to Pamplona, maybe at the end of the Baztán? I am not sure, but I know one of the routes passes very close by, as it is really close to Pamplona.
I am sure though that it is the best! (In my experience!)
I have been fortunate enough to have had many visits to that family establishment over the years. I attach a link to their website, a testimony to the growth from a small effort by a mother to provide for her family to the flourishing place it is at present. I have no vested interest, beyond the many enjoyable meals I have had there.
Not on our route this time, but I have noted this!
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
Now that I’m here and looking at the formidable wall, it’s a bit daunting. 800 meters in 8km! I keep saying slow but sure!😮❤️
It looks much scarier from the bottom than in the actual doing of it. Just be a tortoise and you'll be fine! I was really spooked but found it easier than expected. It's a steady climb, no doubt about that - but not as horrifying as it appears.
 
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WestKirsty

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CNorte/Prim 2016
CSal 2017
CF 2021/22
CVasco 2022
Now that I’m here and looking at the formidable wall, it’s a bit daunting. 800 meters in 8km! I keep saying slow but sure!😮❤️

I agree with @VNwalking , it's not as bad as it seems! And the scenery is so beautiful in that valley that I was barely paying attention to the elevation gain! The numerous photo breaks helped too :)

Buen Camino!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
It looks much scarier from the bottom than in the actual doing of it. Just be a tortoise and you'll be fine! I was really spooked but found it easier than expected. It's a steady climb, no doubt about that - but not as horrifying as it appears.
I agree with @VNwalking , it's not as bad as it seems! And the scenery is so beautiful in that valley that I was barely paying attention to the elevation gain! The numerous photo breaks helped too :)

Buen Camino!
And I agree with VN and WestKirsty. You will be so enthralled by the beauty of it that you will stop more often to enjoy your surroundings than to rest, but of course when you stop to enjoy your surroundigs you will be resting! So it all works perfectly.
 
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Next up 2022?
I had gone past there on the train to Irun and was looking out the window with alarm, questioning my sanity. Dang, that's a steep slope! But the camino follows contours, rather than going straight up, which would be crazy.
You will be so enthralled by the beauty of it that you will stop more often to enjoy your surroundings than to rest, but of course when you stop to enjoy your surroundigs you will be resting! So it all works perfectly.
Absolutely. Look down too. There were some fabulous orchids somewhere after you cross the train tracks.
 
Past OR future Camino
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Day 4. This is just a suicidal post as I. Using up data from Tom’s SIM card but I couldn’t rest it’s telling you that yesterday was glorious. The walk up to the tunnel was hard but find. Down was really difficult on the Roman road part. But it was such an astounding day, the difficulty was worth it. I’ll post pics and Joe thoughts later today when I have internet!
 
Past OR future Camino
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Day 4. This is just a suicidal post as I. Using up data from Tom’s SIM card but I couldn’t rest it’s telling you that yesterday was glorious. The walk up to the tunnel was hard but find. Down was really difficult on the Roman road part. But it was such an astounding day, the difficulty was worth it. I’ll post pics and Joe thoughts later today when I have internet!
Oh my, I just read the quick post I made this morning! That’s what happens when you are rushing😮🙄.

More on Day 4. I still don’t think I can post pics. Our Albergue doesn’t have wifi and the wifi bar we are at is not strong enough.

We started at 6:45 in the morning because the temps were predicted to be so high and we thought we might reach Zalduondo before the heat of the day. All my worries and the walk up and it was fine — an aerobic workout but fine. The really, really hard part for the two of us and our joints were the scrambles in and out of the tunnel and the 2km walk down on the Roman Road. We both decided to file official complaints regarding the road conditions with the Roman highway department😂!

The day was clear and beautiful and the scenery was incredible. It rivals or exceeds the Hospitales stage on the Primitivo. The evidence of the Roman road is so cool. The Tunnel is amazing. The Hermita Espiritu Sanctu, before the Tunnel was open and we were able to light a candle there. The Hermita in the tunnel had been vandalized or was undergoing repairs, not sure which. We sat on its steps and had lunch in the cool tunnel air.

Walking down from the tunnel felt like walking down out of the mountains in Idaho — more deciduous trees and fewer conifers. But the way the greenery changes and becomes less lush, the cottonwood and beech trees lining the drainages— very similar.

We were so glad we decided to say in Zalduondo because the descent took us longer than the ascent and were pretty exhausted from the effort of picking our way among the rocks. Sadly the bar in Zalduondo has closed. The albergue had lots of potential and was great for the two of us. But it was weirdly unfinished and a little messy and unkempt. The bocadillos we brought from Zegama tasted great as did the tea we made in the albergue kitchen.

All in all an incredible day. I’ll close by encouraging folks to try this route and don’t be put off by the difficulty. Neither Tom nor I are in super shape although we are both fit. But I have had a total ankle replacement, Tom has had two cervical discs replaced. We both have various knee and ankle issues. We made it! Try it!
 
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Past OR future Camino
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Day 5. Today we walked to Algeria Dulantzi. It was a lovely stage through the most beautiful pastoral scenery and almost all on unpaved farm roads. We took the alternate route out of Zalduondo that @WestKirsty posted in her string. It was marked well enough and was almost all on country dirt roads — very beautiful. There is a sign with directions and a map at the point in Zalduondo where the routes separate.

We were able to get breakfast (first time for tortillas patatas on this Camino) and cafe con leche in Salvatierra at 8:00. The 2km walk out of Salvatierra was a bit of a slog, but we walked under the A-1 highway and back into lovely farm country.

I want to put in a big plug for staying in Algeria. This is the absolute nicest town. We arrived and tried calling to open the albergue. Both numbers we had were wrong. The numbers have been recently updated on Gronz so make sure you have current info. If I understood the person who opened for us the volunteers changed too often and they couldn’t keep up so now you just call the ayunmiento.

Back to Algeria, we stopped at a bar when we arrived to ask directions. The albergue was right behind us! They were very welcoming, pointed out the sign and made sure we knew we needed to call. As we were standing at the front door one of the women at the bar ran up to see if we needed any translation help making the call. We went back to the bar to get drinks, call and wait. Turns out we did need help because we had two incorrect numbers. So a guy at the bar call the Ayunamiento for us. When they didn’t answer, he jumped up and ran over to tell them we were here. He introduced us to the city person who came to open and then actually carried my bag into the albergue for me. The albergue is spotless, well equipped. It even has a dryer because you can’t hang your clothes outside.

Tomorrow we are off to Vitoria.
 

WestKirsty

Active Member
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CSal 2017
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CVasco 2022
Thanks so much for posting! I'm really enjoying following along again! I have such wonderful memories of that trail and particularly the tunnel day.

I was at the tunnel on a long weekend so it was busy up there. And if you can believe it, there were a number of trail runners...RUNNING! I couldn't watch them as I was certain I would witness a broken ankle or leg. It makes me cringe just thinking about it again.

Algeria sounds wonderful! I'll have to remember that when I do the Vasco again - I'm quite certain I will :)
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
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Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I have been reading this thread, and a couple of others in the Vasco Interior section, as a preparation to walking it myself this fall. I am planning a lengthy combination of caminos, beginning with the Le Puy, then from SJpdP, or maybe a bit sooner, on to Irun to walk the Vasco, then on the Frances to Ponferrada and the Invierno to Santiago. I really don't know how long it will take, but if I feel that if I need to I can sacrifice another walk on the Frances. The Vasco looks like a wonderful adventure and I am looking forward to walking it sometime in October/November. I remember reading VN's thread when it was fresh, but it again appears as something new and exciting. I am assuming from the threads which I read that there is constant light from at least one end of the tunnel as one walks through it. I would hate if my flashlight flickered out.
Mary Louise
 
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I am assuming from the threads which I read that there is constant light from at least one end of the tunnel as one walks through it. I would hate if my flashlight flickered out
It's actually not that long, and you are never in darkness. Unlike the longish train tunnel (not active, a via verde) on the San Olav coming into Burgos.
 
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I got overwhelmed in Vitoria and didn’t have time to post! So sorry. So first some pics from our walk through the tunnel and to Alegria
 

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And some more
 

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Days 6 and 7. We had a lot to do in Vitoria so I didn’t have time to post, and now I have lots of info. We stayed at the cathedral albergue in Vitoria which was great. And now we are staying at Hostal Palacio in La Puebla Arganzon. It’s OK, but the owner is very kind. I came down to ask if there was a place to hang clothes outside to dry and she just took them and put them in her dryer for me! Today has been a day of extreme kindness — more later.

First there are some important notes on the route. From Alegria to Vitoria. There are good trail markings to get to Nuestra Senora de Estabiliz for those who are interested. The marks are less good to get back to the camino. When you get down the hill from the monastery and turn on the main highway at Estabiliz, there is a nice dirt and grass path on the left side of the highway. It’s not marked at the intersection but follows the highway the whole way to Argondonia.

As @WestKirsty said in her thread, the marks into Vitoria are bad or non- existent. The marking gets erratic starting just after Arkaia. GPS tracks helped a lot. Leaving Vitoria, there are no marks until Gometxa.

Because they are housing refugees, things at the cathedral albergue are tight, it’s probably a good idea to reserve ahead.

Sadly the Bar in Gomexta is closed. The gas station next door has a ok bathroom. We left the cathedral at 6:45 am to avoid the continuing heat and there was nothing open in the city, or in Armentia .

Finally, be really careful at the top of the big climb out of Subijana de Alava. The bike Camino and the walking Camino diverge. The bike Camino is marked by white posts while the walking Camino is marked by yellow posts. At the top you get to a white post and a yellow arrow on a tree. This faked us out and we went about a km before we realized we were wrong. When we got back to the first place, we realized that if we had walked 10 more steps we would have seen the yellow post! Ugh!

This is a long post — I think I’ll write a separate one with my experiences of the days.
 
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Days 6 and 7 highlights. Walking into Vitoria, Nuestra Senora Estabiliz was a real highlight. We were there before the museum opened but the church is open 7 days a week from 8 to 20. When we were there we were the only ones. It was so beautiful and contemplative. I would recommend anyone to make sure they take this short detour. One other thing I forgot to add on my route notes — there is a cafe, fountain and bathrooms there.

In Vitoria, the Cathedral tour lived up to expectations. When I reserved, I specified English thinking we would just get one of those electronic recording thingys. No. We got a personal tour. Just the two of us and the very expert guide. What a real treat!

Today the extreme kindness of folks we met stands out. In Gometxa we were so disappointed to see that the Bar was closed. Forum folks had said it was open at 8 and the owner was a pilgrim. So I was sitting at a picnic table outside the closed, for sale bar feeling bummed. Then a guy walked up, the owner of the bar it turns out, asked if we were pilgrims and offered us cafe con leche, tea and added cream puffs at no charge! Wow!

The second kindness was really incredible! I never booked lodging at La Puebla hoping that the albergue would open. Last night when I finally gave up the ghost, I went to book at the Hotel Plaza Arganzon and the only room they had was a suite for 112€! I messaged the owner told her we were pilgrims and asked her if she had anything smaller come available would she down grade us to the smaller room. When we arrived, she let us know she was really booked, but she had called Hostal Palacio, confirmed that they had availability and let us cancel our reservation!

Then, I was able to get my clothes dried here at Hostal Palacio. This place is a little crazy and they have been super busy. Its pretty clean and basic. But through all their business, the owners have been super kind to us.
 

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Day 8: La Puebla de Arganzon to Salinillas de Buradon. We are going to be staying at the albergue in Salinillas tonight. They had a group over the weekend, so we dropped our packs and are sight seeing. We can’t get in til 7.

Notes on the route. There was nothing open in Berentavilla on Sunday before 1:00. So the first open place for a pit stop, drink or food was in Zambrana. The bar in Zambrana is in the Polideportivo. It is very nice and clean. It serves some pinxtos but not much. Also there is no shop in Salanillas. We found two bars both of which stop serving food at 4 or 4:30 on Sunday.

Today was a bit of a slog for the two of us. We did not sleep well last night — our Hostal room was hot and stuffy. Plus it’s oppressively hot again today. We started at 18 and it was 32 by noon. There is also. 3km walk on the N-124 at the height of the heat and it’s a busy road. Yuck.

But Salinillas is a joy, what a beautiful town. And the kindness of the people we meet continues. We went into the one bar for dinner and the kitchen was closed. When the bartender realized we were pilgrims staying in town, he put together meatballs and pan to go for us!

I’ll try to get back on and post pics later. I haven’t downloaded them to my iPad yet.
 
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Oh! Surprise!! I thought you two were headed to Burgos. So much kindness. Isn't it a joy?
Look forward to the pics, when they are easy to post. Buen camino to Haro!!
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
@ebrandt : I have been following your walk since Irun, and shall now be looking for recent threads of pilgrims on the route to Burgos, as that is where I plan to finish this route in the fall. There is lots of good information on VN's walk in 2019, but I shall need to find as much as I can about pandemic and current conditions. So far, I have noticed the high cost of accommodation and hope that enough places will be open when I walk through in the late fall. I have been impressed by the kindness of the locals.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
But Salinillas is a joy, what a beautiful town. And the kindness of the people we meet continues.
What’s not to love about a walled town, an open bar, a comfortable albergue, and endless kindness!

I am so glad to hear that the albergue gets some non-pilgrim traffic, because when we were there a few years ago, the young guy was sounding a bit down about the low numbers of people staying there.
 
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Oh! Surprise!! I thought you two were headed to Burgos. So much kindness. Isn't it a joy?
Look forward to the pics, when they are easy to post. Buen camino to Haro!!
I could not decide on Santo,Domingo de la Calzada or Burgos. Tom wanted to walk through Atapuerca and book a tour to the archeological site, which we have done. We also decided we would like to walk through wine country, so…..
 
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Day 10. I’m not sure what I did in numbering these posts, but today, Salinillas to Zarraton is our 10th day. It’s was simply lovely. First off the weather changed! Yay! Today started off at 13 and the high this afternoon is 22. What a difference these temps make! But also this is a truly lovely stage. The walk up to the Portillo de Lobera from Salinillas is strenuous, but after walking to San Adrian and going over the pass between Subjana de Alava and Villanueva de Oca (Day 8), this was much better. Not only are our hill climbing muscles getting truly tuned up, but the surface was an improved dirt road. So it was small gravel and relatively level to the top. Coming down was also much better for us than the Roman Road after San Adrian or the dry stream bed of loose rock coming down to Villanueva de Oca! This was more like a rocky road than a tumbled stream bed and the stones were much smaller than those Roman Road stones. The walk up was through fields and lovely forested areas and views back to Salinillas on the way up were pretty. On the way down, the views of La Rioja were just spectacular!

The path opened up into vinards to Brinas, a very pretty wine town. Everything was closed, though. We took a break and nothing was open even when we left at 9:30.

The walk from Brinas almost to Haro is along the Ebro. The Camino is routed on the road, but there is a beautiful river path. We walked the road because we were worried that we would not be able to get up to the bridge we knew was coming, when it came time. We should have walked the river. There is a nice gravelly path from the river walk up to the road just before the bridge.

The Puente de Brianas is an 11th C bridge. It’s been restored and semi rebuilt but still has many Romanesque features. And it’s clear that it was an incredible engineering feat for its time.

Haro was fun. I know it was very hard hit by the first round ov COVID and there were many more people here still masking and distancing even outdoors. There were lots of wine bodegas. We took in a couple and bought a half bottle for our lunch. Many of the tasting rooms were open by 10 when we got there. We just stopped at a couple along the Camino. We had a second breakfast on the square in Haro that was very good.

The walk out of Haro is the only negative today — about 2 km along a boring highway (at least it was not too busy). But once we crossed the autopista we were back in wine country for the rest of our walk. We stopped on the shoulder of a vineyard and had our half bottle of wine with some cheese, meat and bread we bought in town. I love a picnic and sitting there, basking in the sun, it seemed like we hadn’t a care in the world!

We are staying at a wonderful hotel in Zarraton — Hospederia Palacio Casafuente. It’s a bit pricy, but I think a great bargain for how lovely it is and how wonderful the owner is (105€ for a double incl. breakfast). Staying here gave us the shorter stages we were going for, and we decided to treat ourselves. Unfortunately, tonight is the one night of the week their restaurant is closed — it looks like it would be good. But there is a bar in town that serves food so we will eat there. Tomorrow morning, the owner is going to open the breakfast room early and make sure there are things ready for us. He showed me how to work the coffee maker! This is so gracious of him as tomorrow we will make our turn onto the Frances so we don’t want to get to our planned stop too late (as I am determined not to book ahead…🙄😮)!

Here are some pics.
 
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Whoops, here are the pics
 

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Day 11. We finished the Vasco today. Last night’s stay at the hotel in Zarraton was really great. The owner left us a huge spread for breakfast — fruit, cereal, meat, cakes, toast, coffee and tea!! The end of the route was a beautiful bucolic walk through vineyards and fields to Santo Domingo. I’m attaching a picture of us at the last yellow arrow on the Vasco! It’s a marvelous route. For my money the three hardest parts are the entire first day, the walk down from San Adrian on the Roman Road, and the descent from the pass between Subjana de Alava and Villuenueva de Oca. Those Basques don’t believe in traversing a slope with switchbacks, they just go straight up, and, hard for me, straight down!

We are staying in Granon tonight. The bad news is that two days ago, Tom twisted his knee. It was not great, but we hoped that with a couple of relatively short and easy days it would improve. Today however, as he turned to say hi to passing pilgrims, he tweaked it again pretty badly. We are going to take the bus to Burgos tomorrow and stay there until Saturday morning. We will go to a clinic tomorrow and see what they say. Hopefully it’s nothing major and some rest will be good. We hope to start walking again on Saturday or whenever it seems feasible.

I am not planning on posting live from the Frances, but will post live again once we are on the Invierno. I have a separate blog and will continue posting daily on it. Ifyou are interested, it is called Footloose and Tuition Free and is at www.lizb82657.wordpress.com.

L
 

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J Willhaus

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2016, 2022
Which albergue in Granon? A fellow hospitalero voluntario posted yesterday that Casa de Sonrisa there is for sale or rent. Hope Tom is on the mend soon!
 
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Which albergue in Granon? A fellow hospitalero voluntario posted yesterday that Casa de Sonrisa there is for sale or rent. Hope Tom is on the mend soon!
We are at the parochial albergue at San Juan Bautista. I walked past Albergue Sonrisa this afternoon and it was open and completo…..
 

WestKirsty

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Thanks so much for posting on the Vasco! I really enjoyed following along and it brought back lots of memories of that great walk.

I'm sorry to hear of the injury though. Wishing him a rapid recovery and a buen Camino for the rest of the way.

Take care!
 
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Day 11. We finished the Vasco today. Last night’s stay at the hotel in Zarraton was really great. The owner left us a huge spread for breakfast — fruit, cereal, meat, cakes, toast, coffee and tea!! The end of the route was a beautiful bucolic walk through vineyards and fields to Santo Domingo. I’m attaching a picture of us at the last yellow arrow on the Vasco! It’s a marvelous route. For my money the three hardest parts are the entire first day, the walk down from San Adrian on the Roman Road, and the descent from the pass between Subjana de Alava and Villuenueva de Oca. Those Basques don’t believe in traversing a slope with switchbacks, they just go straight up, and, hard for me, straight down!

We are staying in Granon tonight. The bad news is that two days ago, Tom twisted his knee. It was not great, but we hoped that with a couple of relatively short and easy days it would improve. Today however, as he turned to say hi to passing pilgrims, he tweaked it again pretty badly. We are going to take the bus to Burgos tomorrow and stay there until Saturday morning. We will go to a clinic tomorrow and see what they say. Hopefully it’s nothing major and some rest will be good. We hope to start walking again on Saturday or whenever it seems feasible.

I am not planning on posting live from the Frances, but will post live again once we are on the Invierno. I have a separate blog and will continue posting daily on it. Ifyou are interested, it is called Footloose and Tuition Free and is at www.lizb82657.wordpress.com.

L
And well you might smile so widely, even if Tom is suffering with his knee! Thanks for your postings. I will see if a wee prayer helps...maybe even a wee bit of vaseline and some hand massage around the knee, nothing like a physio would do, just rubbing around it with the moisture of the vaseline, or any moisturiser. Not medical advice, just compassionate thinking out loud!
 

roving_rufus

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Enjoyed riding along! And the info on albergues in Zalduondo and Alegia is great for those of us coming behind you. Hope the knee heals up too
 

NadineK

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I've loved reading your updates (and blog posts!); what a wonderful Camino this looks to be... and is now suddenly high on my list as a starting point for my summer 2022 Camino adventure.

A question about the albergues: did you need to reserve ahead/call ahead? Did you just show up? Was there often a number on the door to call, or did you need to have a number on hand to find someone to open up? After many Camino's of more or less 'winging it', COVID has made me more of a planner, and a touch more nervous about accommodation options (particularly on these less-traveled routes!). It does seem as though you didn't have too much trouble finding lodging, which is reassuring.

Thank you again for all of your posts and photos, I've just immersed myself in them all this evening.
 
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witsendwv

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(2015)
Day 4. This is just a suicidal post as I. Using up data from Tom’s SIM card but I couldn’t rest it’s telling you that yesterday was glorious. The walk up to the tunnel was hard but find. Down was really difficult on the Roman road part. But it was such an astounding day, the difficulty was worth it. I’ll post pics and Joe thoughts later today when I have internet!
I agree, up to the tunnel was hard, but down was awful. That Roman road was just so difficult to walk on. It was pouring down rain, my husband was behind me when I heard a "thud" and turned to find him face down in the mud. He was ok, but when we saw Agurain in the distance he told me that if we didn't have a place to stay he was on the next train. We arrived at Restaurante El Gordo with a room reservation. We were brought to our room and I asked about a late lunch. I was told that we had five minutes. My husband told me he was going to take a shower- no- splash water on your face and we are going downstairs to eat. Despite being exhausted and needing a shower and looking awful in the dining room, I do remember that I had a wonderful chicken and mushroom dish, and slept very well.
 
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Wonderful, your posts! Thank you so much @ebrandt ! I hope Tom's knee heals quicky with the rest in Burgos.
Buen camino, you two! I realy look forward to your impressions of the Invierno.

the descent from the pass between Subjana de Alava and Villuenueva de Oca.
Fror those coming behind, please be reassured going down that way is not necessary! At the intersection at the top of the hill, turn right. Go along the ridge until you get to the powerline, and turn left. There's an arrow there and more after that point. You miss Villuenueva de Oca but it's much safer. Somewhere here (the planning thread?) I posted a map, but don't have the time to find it at the moment.
 
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The Albergue in Beasain has regular hours. It opens at 2
In Alegria, we called city hall to get the keys when we got there and the hospitalera met us at the door in 10 minutes
In Zalduondo we called the mayor when we got to town and waited for him at the park. He came in about 10 minutes. In both Zalduondo and Alegria, you could call a couple hours before you arrive to give them a warning but it’s not necessary.. in Salinillas, Imwould reserve. He rents to albergue as a casa rural sometimes to make enough to keep going.
 
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Later today whe I have time, I'll find it and post here too. Threads get buried and it's all too easy to miss things! So glad you guys made it down in one piece.
Here is the post and map I am sorry I did not tell you about beforehand, @ebrandt ! 😔

And I took the new way, which caused me to go back and forth a couple of times at the intersection, making sure I was going the right way. It was easy...and very worth it. You go along the ridge to the right of the junction, then down on a track under the powerlines, so it's much better underfoot, if not so scenic.

Edit: here is an OSMand map for people like @ebrandt who are following in your footsteps. The old "official" camino (what Sabine did) is the light blue line, what Pierre and I did is the purple one. The junction is at the top of the hill and is unmissable. A bit past the junction on the old official route (going straight), there was a yellow X, but nothing that I could see on the other way until the powerline. But it was easy to follow the map.
View attachment 123498
 
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The bike Camino and the walking Camino diverge. The bike Camino is marked by white posts while the walking Camino is marked by yellow posts. At the top you get to a white post and a yellow arrow on a tree.
I don't remember these posts from our walk in 2019. In fact, shortly after going straight there was a yellow X. So I bscktracked to the intersection and went right instead, until turning down towards PdS at a yellow arrow painted on a pylon.

I do wonder if there is a 'flecha war:' because the safer way bypasses Villuenueva de Oca completely, perhaps people in the village have an agenda to keep the rocky route marked as 'the' camino route.
 
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I do wonder if there is a 'flecha war:' because the safer way bypasses Villuenueva de Oca completely, perhaps people in the village have an agenda to keep the rocky route marked as 'the' camino route.
Could be. It was very confusing…..
 
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some and then more. see my signature.
I don't remember these posts from our walk in 2019. In fact, shortly after going straight there was a yellow X. So I bscktracked to the intersection and went right instead, until turning down towards PdS at a yellow arrow painted on a pylon.

I do wonder if there is a 'flecha war:' because the safer way bypasses Villuenueva de Oca completely, perhaps people in the village have an agenda to keep the rocky route marked as 'the' camino route.


The mind boggles seeing there is no infrastructure to speak of?!
 
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I can attest to the fact that there is absolutely nothing but a fountain in Villanueva! I actually do think it is that there are separate bike and walking caminos. But the walking Camino path is just insanely steep and dangerous with lose tumbled rocks. It’s worth a couple extra kms to take the bike route. My only worry would be that mountain bikes can really get going and I wouldn’t want one to come up one me inexpertly.

I used to walk on a shared mountain bike/walking path in Idaho and it could be a little tetchy sometimes.
 
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It’s worth a couple extra kms to take the bike route.
The route I walked was about the same distance, maybe even a tad shorter. Just follow purple line on the posted map - there's a little distance on the path along the ridge, then onto a two-track gravel road that any bikers can easily maneuver on.
 

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