Hotel Jakue (60€)
Well, here we are at Madrid’s Atocha train station. It is 8:30 AM. We had a good flight from Boston, with easy luggage retrieval and an easy cab ride. Our train #605 leaves at 10:35 for Pamplona. We wander the train station which is quite wonderful and remember why café con leche is so good. The train zips through wide open country, though parched by summer… dotted with oak and olive trees, vineyards, sunflowers (expiring) and cornfields. Home gardens everywhere. I’m thrilled to arrive in the midst of a tomato harvest. We arrive in Pamplona at 1:30 PM after having lunch on the train… vino blanco, a tiny ham and cheese sandwich, cake and coffee (included in our ticket). We catch a cab to the town of Puente la Reina and check into the Hotel Jakue (which we’d recommend over our previous leg’s fancy-schmancy El Peregrino). Our room is just fine with a great bathtub. Clean up now, after much travel!
We nap, then saunter into a beautiful old stone town and revisit the Iglesia de Santiago, its interior glistening with gold and populated by elaborate statues of saints, Mary and Jesus, a lovely Santiago and even his rival, St. Roche (my favorite). Nick photographs the famous Puente for which the town is named. It is a beautiful afternoon. We return to the hotel and read and nap until dinner at 7:30. We order off the Pilgim’s/Peregrino’s Menu, three courses with wine for 11.50€ each. I have paella, fish, and berry cheesecake; Nick has ensalada mista (like nicoise), chicken, and cheesecake. To bed at 9:00, pooped!