So today, it was the big uphill climb. Except that I was surprised at how “not as bad” it was. I guess I was expecting the Pyrenees and the downward descent into Roncevalles. It seemed all of us walking today have grown stronger. 

Sylvia and I were walking at the same pace, so we pretty much stuck together. We continued to chat and try to understand each other. I guess what we talk about is very simple topics. Given that most topics in the camino is about food, bed and blisters, I think I’m managing alright.

San Juan de Ortega church is a nice one to stop in. It’s not istentatious in any way and very sweet in its simplicity. It still has candles, so I lit one and said a prayer. The whole monastery is undergoing renovation and I think in future it will be a nice town to stop in. I had good reports from peregrinos who stayed in the albergues. Apparently the pilgrim mass is wonderful and pilgrims are blessed and given a prayer card (in their own language) and crucifix to keep them safe on their journey. Another peregrina said it was so sweet, it made the bites she got overnight seem less problematic. When asked what bites they were, she said they weren’t churches. More likely spider bites.

Hmm, okay, whatever. But you’ve been warned if you stay in San Juan de Ortega.

The wind was pretty strong and it rained off and in throughout the day. I got wet but thankfully not drenched. And when the wind wasn’t blowing, my trousers got dry. It’s hard walking in the wind. Quite tiring really and one does get buffeted about. We walked through Ages (pronounced A-heh and not A-gez) to Atarpeuca. It was raining a little too much to walk on to The next town which was 7 km away. My feet was doing well, the blister having been drained, and I felt happy walking the 20 km. 

Walking the camino is had work. Most are enjoying it but everyone is completely cognisant that it is nonetheless hard work. It’s definitely not a walk in the park. More like an endurance. I did ask a marathon runner what she felt the difference is between running a marathon and walking the camino. She said it was the fact that you have to get up the next day and do it all over again. That is definitely true. But I guess you have to stop thinking about it that way, else you just don’t want to get up.

Atarpeuca is a very small town. Let’s just say, it’s a one horse town. No real opinion about it. My stopover is pretty functional. There’s apparently a hotel here though I don’t remember seeing it. The albergue we stayed in is called Albergue El Peregrinos. I didn’t like it. Too squashed and men and women share same shower areas. You have to plan which shower room you to get a bit of privacy. The bedroom is 6 to a room but it is super tiny. It’s like 20 people all crammed in an area the size of 3 caravans.

Still, apparently I shouldn’t complain. Because the albergue near the church in Atarpeuca is even worse. Beds squashed even closer together and pee in the bathroom floor. Sounds gross and I guess if you are nursing a foot injury, not quite the environment you want to put your foot into. 

So with these as feedback, maybe the town to stop in is Ages. For a main stop in the stages in guide books, it’s pretty small. But maybe it’s slightly bigger than the other towns and so the services are better. 

Feeling pretty proud of my efforts. 518 km to Santiago.

I’ve walked 300 km from St Jean Pied de Port