It's four days later.
Saturday 3 May - tough crossing of The Pyrenees via Route Napoleon. Not so much the climb, but the horrendous weather. Rain, wind, cold, low cloud - couldn't see more than 20 metres ahead. Couldn't feel my feet most of the time. No photos until the long steep descent in the stunning forest is nearly over. Too wet, too cold, too cloudy - and too muddy - to get the camera out any earlier. Very pleased to arrive at Roncesvalles, 27 kms later. We did it. Hot shower, fresh clothes - amazing how the previous 7 hours falls away. Tout va bien. But I'm en Espana now so - todo esta bien! Shortly after we arrive, the rain stops and the sun comes out.
Hotel Roncesvalles and the twos Casas complet, so stayed at the very nice, but very big albergue with nearly 200 others - dinner at the Hotel is some consolation. Horrified by the huge number of pilgrims in Roncesvalles - and not thrilled with some of what I see and hear. Pierre warned me May is becoming the busiest month, and this year overwhelmingly non-European and English speaking - in Australian, New Zealand, American and Irish accents. A very different atmosphere to my earlier Spanish Caminos and the comparatively deserted Chemin du Puy. I meet some nice pilgrims but find myself sticking close to my French friends. Knowing the small towns ahead the next day - barely more than villages - I wonder where all these people will sleep!
Sunday 4 May - gentle nostalgic walk from Roncesvalles to Zubiri. Still horrified by crowds but manage to get into a quiet space and enjoy The Way. When we stop for the day, the numbers hit me again. Pleased to have rooms in a nice pensione with Dominique, the other Dominique and Blaise. The small town is 'complet' and filled with pilgrims. I notice cafes and albergues that didn't exist a year ago. The local powers that be open the gymnasium to accommodate overflow on the floor. Yikes! Feeling more thankful every minute for my wonderful Spanish Caminos of 2011 and 2013 - so peaceful by comparison.
Monday 5 May - brilliant sunshine for the walk to Pamplona. Picture of me at favourite outdoor cafe along The Way. Jill and I photographed at same cafe last year - just a month earlier - all rugged up. Arrived in Pamplona before 1pm in brilliant sunshine. Enjoyed an afternoon strolling around, interrupted by late lunch at fabulous little tapas bar. Met Dominique, the other Dominique and Blaise at Cafe Iruna (famous for Hemingway connection) - vino at an outdoor table, great for people watching in Plaza del Castillo, followed by dinner. Sad to say goodbye - and already know I will miss them, and the walking! I'm not used to being the one leaving The Way while others continue.
Tuesday 6 May - after just an hour's bus ride. I'm in San Sebastián. As with Barcelona, love at first sight. And not just because of the tapas. Note to self: I'm not walking 20-30 kms a day now - try to show some restraint! Sightings of Camino shells and signs and the odd pilgrim bring a smile - San Sebastián is on the Camino del Norte. Perhaps I will walk that path one day.
Heading out again now to explore more of San Sebastián. I'm already in love, and haven't even made it to the beach yet.
The End. Home in a few days. Hasta Luego.