August 14th 2018.
We set off this morning with the view of the Pyrenees filling our windscreen, often they were obscured by clouds.
We headed at first to St Jean Pied de Porte, a town on the pilgrim route, we visited here two summers ago in 2016, pre Homer days and we stayed in a local hotel, it’s a place I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to visit. A quick shop for basics and a fill of fuel and we headed up into the Pyrenees on the D933, most of the climb to 1,047 metres was in second and third gear as we negotiated hair pin bend after hairpin bend.Twice we had a run in with large trucks carrying bales of straw towing an equally large trailer behind them, the first coming down the mountain had to negotiate a bend by driving on our side of the road and I had to come to a complete stop. The second incident was in a small village where the street was so narrow two cars passing had to be careful, we were almost all the way through when one these trucks came round the corner, it stopped and waited, I had cars behind me that eventually got the message and backed up, I reversed and then began to edge towards a slightly wider point when the truck surged forward, I pulled to the right and the front wheel went down a drainage ditch at the side of the road along which flowed a small stream. Thankfully still having three wheels on the road I managed to bounce out and go forward. Along the route we passed hundreds of people walking or cycling the pilgrim route, some sections were very steep and you had to admire their courage.
We then headed to Pamplona and an easy by pass system took us further on towards the east and a town called Estella where we hoped to stop for the evening, as we approached the sat nav lost signal, kept giving incorrect directions and as we approached the town sent me up what was meant to be a pedestrianised street, the civil policeman standing at the top gave me an evil glare as I swept by. We never did find the overnight parking area, we had a quick walk around the town but we weren’t impressed so we moved on a few kilometres further to tonight’s resting place Ayegui.
The aire costs 4 euros for a three day stay, can’t grumble at that, it is in a sports complex with tennis courts, swimming pool, basket ball courts and a floodlit football pitch, plus a children’s play area and a cafe bar.
Approx 800m from our aire is a monastery that is on the pilgrim route, it also has a large vineyard and wine making centre and traditionally they have given a glass to pilgrims, I know we hadn’t walked far but it did seem rude not to partake and as we conveniently had a half pint glass in Michelle’s rucksack we solemnly undertook the tradition. I can’t say I would go back to buy some! We walked on for a further mile or two but there was nothing open in the village.
After our evening meal we went for another long walk in the hills around the aire watching a flock of sheep come down the hills and then back for a well earned beer.