Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Larraga - Olite

GR1 Sendero Historico day 19.
Distance: 28.0km (583.0km), time spent: 6:47.
Waymarking: Absent.
Weather: Light overcast and some blue sky.


Yet another day in the flat Navarre without waymarking lay ahead of me. Olite was already decided as the terminus and the distance there should basically be shorter than the original length of the previous day. So, fortunately a short day in other words (although 28km hardly can be called short), but then it is hard to tell what surprises I have in store when it comes to navigation.

View from the church in Larraga in the morning.

One thing that staying at a four star hotel at least yielded, was the size of the breakfast. The price of my room also turned out to be so expensive as I feared, I paid 10 euros for each star. Yesterday evening had been pleasant, but that kind of evenings often feels better when you have a hard day behind you. It struck me this morning that I had not noticed any of the pains in my foot from earlier yesterday, even after the long day, which was really good news.

Larraga, with the church taking up a considerable part of the town.

I discover that one of the reasons why I struggled to locate the hotel yesterday, which really would have been simple, is that Larraga feels like a maze. I had aimed at the church, and gone astray in the narrows streets of the town. From Larraga, I wanted to start from the church and got lost again when I tried to find the trail from there.

Empty Navarre scenery, on a short detour before I came to the Cañada real.

There was not much excitig about today's route. Where I earlier have used the term remote about the surrounding area, although that can be said to be of a somewhat relative term, a better characterization of today's scenery is empty. As Berbinzana, the next town you come to, quiet, only a few people out walking, everything looked closed. No prospects of any café con leche until I get to Olite in other words, there is nothing between Berbinzana and Olite.

Milestone on the Cañada real that GR1 uses on its way through Navarre.

Except for large and empty acres and fields, which the trail almost goes like a straight line through. The waymarking is still adamant in its non-existence. A gray column of smoke is rising up in the horizon, I hope that the route is not heading straight into the middle of it. The soil here is barren, and it is dry, any fire will spread rapidly through the fields. As with yesterday's walk, I think going earlier in the year will be nicer in this part of the trail, when the colours of the fields are green and not the dusty, dry and light brown colour the landscape is dressed in now.

A dancing burning line coming in my direction, the sound of the crackling flames was clear.

Today's history lesson was not in the remains of old settlements or defences, but hidden while at the same time visible flat on the ground. Without any waymarks, it was not obvious where the trail left the gravel road I was walking on and onto one of the ancient transhumance routes going through Spain. Initially, I went wrong, but quickly got back on track. The GR1 waymarks have here faded a long time ago, but the old milestones of stone with CR written on them on has withstood the test of time better. These routes are called Cañada real and was given a statutory basis by Alfonso X in 1273. The purpose of these routes was to move livestock and people across the country. I had been looking forward a little to walk on one of these through a landscape without any content.

Burning of acres next to the Cañada real transhumance route.

Situated on top of the Cañada real, the GR1 goes straight towards the cloud of fumes that rises up from the oter side of a low ridge. After the hill, I am almost standing in the middle of it. Black clouds of smoke crosses over the trail. I can hear the crackling of the fire coming closer and closer, a dancing red and fiery line in my direction. The field black. An inferno in miniature. Fortunately, the fire looks like it is under control. Inside the smoke, there are two tractors working unceasingly. It does not take that much to make a day exciting again.

An empty landscape with rain in the horizon.

With the fire behind me, it is yet again empty of people, and the same empty surrounding countryside. The rest of the walk to Olite takes place without any big headlines, although the original route has been destroyed at a time and I have to take a detour to come around. On the approach to Olite, you can see the towers and spires of the Palace of Kings and the city walls a good time before you enter the town itself, unfortunately, you will then also see the highways and the area around, which is not that exciting.

The city walls and the Palace of Kings in Olite.

This is the nineteenth day of my hike and Olite is by far the most wonderful town I have been to so far, a statement I can give even before I have got to know the town. It is a near perfect place for a zero day, large enough to keep me occupied for more than one day. Given the problems I have had with my left foot and the long day yesterday, I am designating tomorrow to be a day of rest and will give my body and especially my feet some respite from walking. It proved easy to get a place to sleep, I got a nice room with a balcony in the Hotel Garcia Ramirez.

A small square in Olite in the evening.

I am tempted to visit the Palace of Kings already today, but since I will have a zero day tomorrow, I let it wait to then. Instead, I just go slowly around and looking at the buildings, the rumours has it that Olite has some of the best Gothic architecture in Europe. Today, I will not seek out the things to see, I let them find me eventually. When I walk, I find a cozy restaurant that looks it is used more by local people than others, completely in my style.

Plaza Carlos III El Noble in Olite in the evening.

The fact that it has already gone a good amount of days since I left Puerto de Tarna, is beginning to dawn upon me, but harder to think about is that it is still considerably many days left. It is best to let such thoughts disappear, one day at a time is still what counts. While I am in Olite, I just sit down and enjoy the moment.

<- LarragaOlite ->

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