Puenta la Reina to Villamayor de Monjardin.
We got some food and had a light evening meal before an early bed, but in a large hostel of over 100 beds, there was an inevitable amount of noise and we did not sleep till around midnight. However we got up at 0530 as usual along with most of the rest of the hostel and there was a bit of a loose maul while getting everything together and out of the door. Down the main street well lit with streetlamps and over the old pilgrims bridge that gives the town its name. Over rough tracks across fields and some scrubland by at first by light from our head torches to Estella. The weeks across France with heavy packs and the High Pyrenees must have made us fitter than we realised, no one passes us but we overhaul a number of earlier starters, the only ones who keep our pace are an elderly Spanish woman who talks as fast as she walks and doesn’t seem to mind we don’t understand a word, and later in the day a French man with the same advantage as ourselves as he has walked from his home in Strasbourg.
Estella is fair sized town with at least two hostels and various other options but it is not even 1000h when after 12 miles we arrive in Estella. This is a big modern town, so we decide that we will move on to a smaller location. So we do a bit of shopping for food and press on along the Camino up the hill out of town past the monastery and vinery at Irache. According to the guide book this is the place where there is a tap that delivers free wine to pilgrims, we find it, it is well sign posted with a webcam watching over the wall with two taps one labelled water and the other wine. Alas only the one works and it delivers water, we presume there must be a quota system and it has been exceeded, such is progress!
By 1200h we have reached a small village Villamajor and decide that 20 miles is enough for the day although it is still cool and cloudy up here at 700m. This is a lovely little village which contains a superb church tower in the village, a castle way above on the hillside and a winery below in the valley. There is also a bar restaurant and a small hostel run by two volunteers one Spanish and one German. There is no charge but donations are accepted, we select two beds in a separate room, it is the corridor/bathroom, the bunkbed is 3 feet from the first shower cubicle, however no one will shower in the night and we can both snore with minimal disturbance to anyone else.
Washing of clothes is done in a bowl outside on the roadside and there are drying lines up around the back of the church across the road. This is more like the Camino that has been written about. We meet a Danish woman at lunch in the bar (9€), she is walking the Camino from St Jean Pied de Port, she speaks good English some French and no Spanish, and works with immigrants to Denmark back home (they have 1000 per year). She is walking with two Spanish women neither speak English one speaks French, efforts to communicate cause great amusement on all sides. We are on the second shift for feeding in the bar and stand looking at other Pilgrims waiting for some of the 14 or so chairs to become vacant, dinner is pasta salad followed by meat and potato stew with bread and wine with ice cream to follow no longer hungry we return to our bunks for siesta.