Hiking the Camino de Santiago France/Spain travel blog

Alto de Perdon


Camino marker in the pavement


Puente de Reine


Day 4 Cizur Mayor to Ciraqui

Shortly after leaving Cizur Mayor began the hardest climb and then descent of the day, however the views at the top were well worth the effort.

Shortly before reaching the top of the hill there was a more modern fountain than usual which commemorates the legend Fuente Reniega, the Fountain of Denial. According to the legend an exhausted and thirsty pilgrim was tempted by the devil. The steadfast pilgrim resisted (of course) and was reward by the appearance of the Apostle dressed as a(nother) pilgrim who showed him the location of the spring. That's the story he gave his wife about why he was late home anyway.

The climb up the Alto del Perdon left the Atlantic Basin behind and the scenery changed after the decent to mostly crop fields. At the top there are various status of pilgrims from the past. There was also an Englishman who spends his summers helping pilgrims. He sells cans of soft drinks and gives away tea; he also has some basic medical supplies to help pilgrims suffering from blisters.

The route from the top was pretty dangerous underfoot. The decent is steep, uneven, and is composed of loose gravel and stones. The stones are what really get me, they are so difficult to walk on without losing balance. I don't know how people manage without sticks, they've saved my bacon more than once.

The rest of the day was fairly easy and meandered gently downhill through Uterga and Muruzabal, both small towns, though they both had bars. It's common to pass by a bar and see pilgrims drinking beer from 8am. In fact I shared a room a couple of times with a hilarious Dutch man, Albert, who is 65, 5ft on a good day and on his second Camino. He sits in bed at night and has his last beer then does exactly the same upon waking in the morning.

Onward and upwards to Puenta de Reine where the church of San Juan Bautista contains Guillermo’s skull encased in silver. Guillermo was a duke in who made a pilgrimage with his sister Felicia to Santiago back in the day. On the way home his sister expressed her desire to become a hermit in Amocain. Guillermo tried to force her to return to the French court and when she flat out refused, he killed her. He then returned to Santiago to pray and on his second journey home he stopped and stayed in Obanos where it is said he wept for his sister until his death. Another fine piece of uplifting Camino folk lore.

Spare a thought now for Jacques de Troya, a French pilgrim. Documents from 1350 indicate that he was hung in Puente la Reina for stealing money, books, and clothes from other pilgrims. Seriously not cool dude.

Byron, BeauJohn and I stopped for a buffet lunch in a hotel that appeared as we entered Puenta de Reine. I don't think it catered to peregrinos as we had to take our packs to the basement and removing our boots under the table and padding around in our socks drew some disapproving stares. Highlight was the self serve drinks, including draught beer and wine!

Day 4 draws to a close and my feet are struggling, my toes look like little frankfurters about to burst. Perhaps a poke with a fork would help...I'm ready to try anything at this point! I'm staying the night in Alburgue de Peregrino Maralox in Ciraqui.

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