Hospederia Chapitel (90€)*
It is Sunday. Up at 7:15 AM and it’s still dark outside. Out by 8:00 and on the trail. It is a lovely morning. We pass vast, golden fields that have just been harvested, with freshly-mown hay piled high. Mountains surround us, with white cliffs in the distance. The hiking is easy up and down on trails and quiet roads. There are lots of bicyclists out for a Sunday ride. We stop for coffee and pan tostada in the charming, very clean town of Villatura about 4 kilometers out. Lots of picture taking. At 11:00 we arrive in Estella, a beautiful small city on the Rio Ega… “where bread is good, wine excellent, and which overflows with all delights” (Nick again quoting from an 1137 AD Pilgrim’s Guide). We stop by the Tourist Office and they direct us to our hotel. It is an old building but very modern inside, with very simple stylish decor. Lots of glass and white. I love it! We walk to the main plaza and settle on a place for lunch, a casual outdoor café. Ordering is challenging, having no great language skills and, as yet, little understanding of Spanish cuisine. Nick has a beer; I opt for Rose wine. Nick has something called fried ham and cheese with breading and I settle on an ensalata mista. Home for a nap, then out again to follow a recommended “city walk.” We encounter a colorful group of Basques performing traditional dances in the street. Everywhere families are enjoying their Sunday. I am struck by how many dads are in charge of their small children. These are happy people in a lovely, spiffy city. The parks are wonderful, edged by well-maintained old stone buildings. Back to our room for calls to family, and then out again. Most places don’t open for dinner until 9:00. We commit to what we think is a Basque restaurant… no such luck but we nevertheless enjoy the Menu del Dia (similar to a fixed-price Pilgrim Menu). A delicious meal in a dumpy setting. Bonnie: white beans, tasty fish, dumb dessert / Nick: salada russo, steak with fries, ice cream. Red wine out of a barrel projecting from the wall.