Just the facts:
- Stage: 3
- Route: Larrasoana, Akerreta, Zuriain, Irotz, Zabaldica, Arleta, Villava, Burlada, Pamplona, Cizur Menor.
- Distance: 20.9 km (22.7 km adjusted for climb)
- Total distance to date: 73.4 km (80.3 km adjusted for climb)
- Accommodation: Albergue Sanjuanista (27 beds in 3 rooms). Basic, but lovely, and excellent value for the 4 Euro suggested donation. Separate bathroom for the women, which was very clean. The hostel is run by rotating volunteers of the Knights of St. John, and is open June to September.
- Food: The Albergue keeps a fridge full of food that you can enjoy on a donation basis, of which we partook to make a stellar breakfast in the morning before continuing on our journey. The town of Cizur Menor itself is quite small; however, there were a couple of bars / restaurants offering pilgrim menus, which is a three-course meal for a flat rate, usually 10 Euros. We ate dinner at nearby Asador El Tremendo, which had a separate dining room reserved for pilgrims, and it was nice.
For lunch along the way, we enjoyed some delectable tastes of tapas in Pamplona, which was all abuzz with a festival. If I understood correctly, the occasion was to celebrate the anniversary of the loss of the Basque country’s independence. Um, what? It was quite a good party all the same.
Several of the pilgrims we had met so far decided to opt for a hotel and stay in Pamplona rather than continuing the extra 3 km to Cizur Menor. While they all enjoyed it, and the lack of curfew that an Albergue would impose, they were all a little slow to get going the next day. Given the option, I would probably still stay in Cizur Menor, only because the level of soreness in my muscles would have meant going to bed early anyway, in which case the value of the hotel would have been lost on me.
Day 3 was a bit of a wake-up call, as I could barely get down the stairs to the toilet, my legs were that sore. Apparently, running down the steep hills at the end of the last two days was not a smart move. Our feet have also started to suffer, with a few blisters here and there requiring attention. We patched them up as best we could, and reunited ourselves with our sturdy hiking shoes and evil backpack. While it carries everything including our precious water, it is at the detriment of our shoulders. I am seriously contemplating burning half of the things I packed to lighten the load.
In any case, we made our way from Larrasoana through Pamplona, where we stopped for tapas and then a lovely salad to throw into the bocadilla rotation, and hauled ourselves to a small suburb called Cizur Menor, where we stayed in a hostel next to a beautiful church for 4 Euros per person, and it is infinitely nicer than last night’s. MdR even felt comfortable not wearing her flip-flops in the shower. True story!
Dinner consisted of a 3-course pilgrim menu, which are offered in most bars and restaurants. They range in price from 7 to 10 Euros, and include a starter, main, dessert, wine or water, and bread. The white, fluffy and incredibly crusty white bread is ubiquitous in the north of Spain. You can count on a chunk to be served with everything you order, and, while we do need our carbs for the walk, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the bread alone will be enough to stymy any potential weight loss on this pilgrimage.