The Roncasvalles Monastery is the largest albergue – aka pilgrim’s hostel – on the Camino and offered an easy introduction to the diversity of housing to come.
The 300-bed facility had been recently renovated in the past year with all modern conveniences, including an elevator. What they couldn’t update, is the experience of sleeping in a room with one hundred other people. It’s noisy, in case you were wondering.
Also, there’s a bit of confusion about when to get up. The lights come on at 7, but many, eager for an early start, get out their flashlights and start unpacking and repacking their packs from 4:30. It’s silly to lie in bed awake for hours waiting for the lights while others scurry about, but it’s equally silly to rise so early you need a flashlight to find the Camino.
So, I walked out the door around 6. The sun was just coming out, I had my yogurt saved from the previous night’s dessert and a plan to walk as many 40k (ha!).
The route was much flatter than the previous day’s 1200m climb and pleasant passing through villages (cafe con leche!) and pastures.
Mid-morning, I overtook the nineteen year old Dane I’d met on the train to St. Jean. Can you imagine just graduating from high school and wanting to walk across Spain by yourself for a month? Can you imagine your parents letting you? The fact that he played on the national hockey team might have had something to do with it, but otherwise, truly extraordinary.
We walked together for most of the day – stopping together, stopping individually and catching up with each other – until we arrived under a misting sky in Zubiri, the traditional second day’s stop. I had wanted to walk on, but the threatening sky and my aching feet made a strong argument to stay.
Casper and I secured beds – or camas – in the municipal albergue, a simply room filled with as many vinyl covered bunk beds as could fit. That means, literally, they’d push two twin beds together, to effectively make a double.
Once we got settled in for a siesta, the heavens opened and we were very glad of the decision we made to stop in zubiri.