19.03.2017 - 20.03.2017
Easy drive down a free motorway and onto another aire that the good people of Etxebakar provided and we always try and use a cafe or a shop to pay back a few euros to them. These free aires have been a bonus in making our daily budget go further and loosing 20% of our daily spend thanks to Brexit which thankfully now has risen to only 15%. We arrived early enough to walk the couple of kilometers into Pamplona, Jacqui's knee is progressing well with a bit of exercise and her knee brace and the weather was lovely and warm. The suburbs were mostly low rise flats with people enjoying bars and open spaces in the sun. As we walked toward the old town it looked quite high above us and I wondered what sort of hill we would have to climb after the river. Mr Otis had installed a very natty inclined plane lift system like a venicular which slid up and down using very little energy, I bet attacking armies of the past would have liked one.
The old town was very elegant with lots of Basques lunching in very smart bars as well as little restaurants. This is another city that is still lived in and used every day and Jacqui got some great pictures of the restored buildings. This is also part of the Camino de Santiago so lots of shell signs and walkers, not quite sure how St Francis of Asissi fits into the story but he has a statue in a nice square. Back to the van for kippers for Sunday lunch accompanied by wonderful multigrain local bread we just don't care about convention anymore.
Monday morning we were roused by the nearby school siren, what happened to a polite bell ringing? This was our last day in Spain for a while and we drove into the foot hills of the Pyrenees, stopping for a last café con leche. We passed lots of walkers and in these hills you have to take your hat off to them, we have covered the route in Friday so he can have a shell sticker but I wouldn't fancy walking all that way. We passed through Valcarlos which is the gateway to the walk but is is an unpretentious place, which it ought to be I suppose.
We arrived at a popular stop off on the Spain, France route, at St Jean Pied de Port and parked at the aire next to the rugby club. The main way we chose this aire was to get some electric so Jacqui could cook beef casserole and dumplings in the slow cooker whilst we went for a wander. The town wasn't busy but showed the signs of gearing up for the start of what must be a hectic walking season with outdoor gear shops and souvenirs available every where so we bought Friday his sticker and a Basque flag as well