Back to Estella

After a fantastic breakfast spread at Jakue, we stepped into a glorious day.

This is the bridge that gives Puente la Reina its name, built for or by a queen and certainly worthy of one. There are always more people photographing it than walking across it at any given time, but sooner or later you have to cross to move on.

One of my favourite weird things about the camino is the way that snails for some reason have decided to climb up high on straws, trees and basically anything they can find. Why? Is there food up there for them, or do they instead become food for birds? Was there once a flood and they won’t take a chance on staying on the ground? I’d love to know.

The iconic camino view of Cirauqui in the distance. This stretch feels to me like a trial run of the meseta – how far can we make people walk in a straightish line in the dust and heat just by dangling a medieval hilltown in front of them? Very, it seems. All very enjoyable in good company!

But there is also the thrill of following the ancient roman road for a bit, for those who have read up on it. I’d say most didn’t, by the way they just ran down and back up it without care or fascination. I find it thrilling.

Another bridge, though without any water under it. Still a beautiful one.

The plan was to walk all the way to Estella, but a drink was definitely required at Lorca first. A tiny town with two albergues, I suggest you pick the one on the right hand side as you go down the street. You shall know it by the huge world map in the bar.

Back in beautiful Estella we were booked into an albergue across the river in the actual town. Most pilgrims don’t see Estella at all as the camino passes right by it for some reason. The albergue we were in, Hostel Agora, had modern cubicles and blackout curtains. Loved it, wish there were more like it!

I know Estella well, because I spent some time there in 2017. The Scouse Spouse had an accident and was in hospital for weeks before I could take him home in a wheelchair (long story, but he is fine now). After cleaning myself and my clothes I wanted to go into town to sit at what was once my usual table outside my favourite restaurant and look at the church and people milling past, and think about life and coincidences and happy returns.

Colleen said she would meet me there for a drink, but before long the whole group decided to have their evening meal there, and we were also joined by a few other pilgrims we had met along the way. So from always eating alone at my usual table two years ago, I was now in the middle of a long table full of friends old and new, with chatter and laughter and toasts and my favourite waiter running to and fro to replenish glasses. I could never have dreamt of that two years before, or rather – I did, but it didn’t happen until that evening. A buen return camino indeed.

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