Saturday, September 22, 2018
Travel

On the Camino de Santiago, Day 4: Wading through a sea of wine and revelers in Pamplona

Day 4: Zubiri to Cizur Menor - 25.9 km - 8.5 hours

Approaching Pamplona, I knew we would lose a few of our fellow pilgrims amidst the sea of red and white filling the streets for the opening ceremony of the festival of San Fermin. Our group included Joe, a farmer from Ireland; Willie and his nephew, Daniel, from Paris; a family of four from Chicago (each of whom carried a bottle of wine from Bordeaux, which they had generously shared with me the night before); and many others. Some wanted to watch the festivities from above, while others were hell-bent on running with the bulls. Albergues in Pamplona were charging five times the typical rate for a bed. Cizur Menor, the next town, was five kilometers beyond Pamplona.

Those of us aiming for Cizur Menor were told to call ahead to hold a bed - advice I'm glad I took. The hospitalerio advised me to skip Pamplona and take a bus from one side of the city to the other. Nearly everyone I spoke with gave me the same advice. As I entered the city, a man on a bicycle stopped me and, in a cocktail of Spanish, English and hand gestures, warned me to turn around because there are too many people and it is not possible to pass on foot.

Difficult? Likely. Impossible? Yeah, right.

Over 1 million people were expected to fill the city center. After wishing Willie and Daniel a buen camino and good luck running with the bulls, I debated my options. I could trust the shells to guide me and have a go at it alone. I could squeeze into a crowded bus and watch the revelry through a window. I could walk up and down the same street attempting to figure out what my next move was and hop-ing to find another pilgrim. I came across a few: some staying in Pamplona; some hoping to stay in Pamplona; and two determined to get as far they could by foot.

Norrie and Jerry, a couple from Ireland who were doing a smaller section of the Camino, were just the people I was looking for. As we waded forward into the masses, we had no idea what to expect. When we walked out, our faces were literally hurting from smiling, cheering and laughing so much. We shared stories over a drink once we got past the city center, and continued to follow the shells into Cizur Menor. I arrived at the albergue glowing, filled with energy and tempted to venture back into the raucous sea of red and white.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

A bus heads to Pamplona loaded with festivalgoers from Burlada, a nearby municipality.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

The Puente de Magdalena, a bridge that crosses the Rio Arga river, dates back to the 14th century.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

People cross the Puente de Magdalena, heading for the city center in Pamplona.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

Two festivalgoers visit on the Portal de Francia in Pamplona.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

It is traditional for people to throw buckets of water down on the San Fermin revelers. (Sometimes they even throw wine.)

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

Crowds cheer as people take turns jumping and flipping off a tall fountain in Navarrería Square, to be caught by the people below. Usually.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

Many people in Pamplona seemed to have as much wine or sangria on them as they had in them.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

Calle Mayor (literally "Main Street") in Pamplona.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

A couple poses for a photo on Calle Mayor.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

These folks found a spot to enjoy a quiet drink.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

Despite all the chaos of San Fermin, the shells allowed us to stay on the Camino as we made our way through Pamplona.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

My Camino passport after four days.

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi – Special to the Times

The stamp for Albergue Peregrinos Maribel Roncal in Cizur Menor

Kelly Osborne-Rozgonyi, of St. Petersburg, FL., is a teacher at Country Day School in Largo, FL. She is currently in Europe walking the 500-mile Camino De Santiago. She is sending the Times a daily blog post about her solo journey, which is expected to last 33 days.

Read the post for Day 5 of Kelly's Camino.

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