Day 7 | Puente la Reina de Jaca to Artieda
When we first drove along the road from Jaca, a few days ago, I was pretty surprised to see Puenta la Reina on the same signpost as Pamplona and I wondered if we’d been transported across country to the Camino Frances. To avoid confusion this village is actually named Puente la Reina de Jaca… but they can’t fit all of that on the road signs!
It was here that we decided to test out Gerry’s ankle. There was a 4km stretch to Arres which we felt he would manage and from there we could decide to go on or return. The thermometer is rising and every day will now be over 30c so we wanted to get walking early. We started walking at 8:30 which wasn’t really early but not too late either. We crossed the queens bridge to reach the camino; sadly the original bridge was replaced and this one is nowhere near as grand as it’s namesake further north. It’s also quite narrow so crossing it with cars and lorries passing us was a little unnerving. Once on the other side we had to walk along the road for a while before turning off on to a much quieter smaller country lane; so small in fact that we had a rather hairy moment with a lorry as it had to squeeze past us! Thankfully all that we suffered was a blast of hot air from his engines as he drove by. But dodging tractors and large vehicles would be a bit of a theme today. But not right now as the arrows took us off the road and up into the hills.
Our destination was Arres. I’m pretty sure the Spanish would pronounce it Arr-E-s but for a girl from Devon it’s really hard to say without sounding like a pirate, much to Gerry’s amusement. It reminded us a joke Matt had when he was young… What’s the Pirates favourite letter of the alphabet? Rrrr of course! So every now and then we’d throw in an Arres to the conversation but you had to do it with a Pirate accent. I know it sounds really childish now as I write this but it kept us entertained for ages (at least 3 kilometres) and it led us inevitably to the Two Ronnies and their Fork Handles sketch. And that kept us entertained for several more kilometres on the return trip.
It’s Saturday and there were a lot of walkers on the trail. We seemed to get caught up in the local walking club and had to keep stopping to let them by; but they were walking in groups of 2 or 3 and then there was a gap until the next group… so there were many buenas and lots of putting on and taking off of masks. And it was difficult to make way as the trail was really very narrow. It was hard to put your feet side by side. Along the path there were the usual wide flowers but also prickly gorse and brambles and the odd christmas tree. We’re both wearing shorts and below the knees our legs are covered in tiny scratches… but regardless of the walking group and the plants it was a great walk and we were happy to be back on the camino.
It was very hot and we were pleased to see Arres (pirate voice) ahead. We’d read there was a bar and we both looked forward to a cool drink. We’d also thought there was a church for us to explore but we couldn’t find it… the village was tiny you shouldn’t be able to lose a church! But we did. Gerry pushed hard against a door handle, convinced he’d found the right building, and was trying to get in… only to realise he was trying to get into someone’s house! At least the bar was open. Inside were two old chaps and a lady serving. No-one was wearing a mask and one of the old chaps was coughing a lot! Gerry ordered and I took a seat outside in the shade.
We considered what next. We felt it would be best to return via the road as the trail was stony and narrow and we’d climbed up a bit to reach Arres (pirate voice ). Gerry felt it would be quite difficult for him walking back down on that path; it is easier for him walking uphill with his ankle. So the road it was. And it would mean a change of scenery too. Once we’d finished our drinks we headed back. The sun was high and it was hot and there was no shade at all along the road. All around there was a buzz of tractors and combine-harvesters and lorries; today was clearly the day to harvest the wheat and the valley was alive with the sound of machinery. We watched one huge beast of a machine slowly make his way around a field. He would start on the outside and go round and round until he reached the middle. Support vehicles would go up and down the roads and every now and then we’d spot a group of chaps chatting beside their cars, watching the wheat being harvested.
Onwards and onwards along the road, making way for tractors carrying their cargo until finally we reached the point where the trail split from the road and we knew that we’d soon be back in town. We had the choice of two bars for a spot of lunch. We chose the one with the biggest outside terrace. Gerry was feeling brave and decided he would order… esta possible a comer? si si … bueno… dos huevas fritas y patata fritas por favor… then the chap asked him a lot of other questions which proved more tricky but Gerry did return with cold drinks and 5 minutes later egg and chips were placed in front of us! Well done Gerry!
We made a plan for the rest of the day. We don’t want to walk a 20km day just yet but we were ready to do a little more. We drove along the country lanes to Marta and decided, after exploring yet another tiny village that we’d have a cuppa in the cool of the church terrace. Gerry couldn’t stop giggling as we sat in front of the big old wooden church door? He’s so childish… there was unusual door furniture and Gerry asked… Do you think the local vicar asked for a door knob and was misunderstood? He almost fell off his step he laughed so much. He told me that I had to include the story in the blog and that you would all find it amusing too… I’m saying nothing!
The plan was to drive to Artieda, have a look around the village and then walk back to Mianos. Just about enough of a walk for us today. Artieda was a very neat little village with a really lovely cool sitting area, perfect for a picnic if you’d had one! But not for us today… as Mianos was calling us. Onwards and upwards, along more fields of wheat. We had a bit of a beep beep from a jeep coming down the hill too fast and not expecting to see two pilgrims! but apart from that it was uneventful… albeit very hot! thank goodness for hiking umbrellas. Mianos is another village perched on a hill and partway up we found a bench. We think it says ‘two people who can make each other laugh have everything” – rather fitting for us so we took a seat and admired the view. I wanted to carry on up to the top of the village to see the church… they’re never open but I like to try! Gerry said that if I found anything fascinating then I should message for him to come quickly to see. He would save the bench for us in the meantime.
I wandered up to the top and I did indeed find something. So I messaged him. The signal was a bit slow so there was a few minutes delay but I heard him chuckle and assumed he’d seen it. What I’d found was a cool porchway with a seat opposite an old alter surrounded by old art… in a crumbling old building beside the church. Just there… for passing pilgrims to admire. Whilst at first Gerry scoffed at my message he soon agreed that I had indeed found something and sat in the cool and admired it.
But… time was marching and so should we. It was hot hot hot and all I wanted to do was reach the car and turn the air conditioning to high. As we meandered back down through Mianos Katy Perry drifted out from one of the houses and the song stuck in my head as we walked. I was walking faster than Gerry and we drifted apart as I searched for ahead for shade.
Back in the car we made one last stop before heading home, we still had almost a full flask. Gerry said he would stop in the first shady place with a parking space… that happened to be underneath the new motorway bridge! But the hot drink was actually very welcome and we shared an apple and acted like children sticking the ‘pink lady’ apple sticker on each other… I did way better than Gerry though as he has really hairy arms.
And so another day ended. We walked over 12 kilometres today which was more than we hoped… Gerry’s ankle is holding up well and we feel we’ll soon be back to normal; the only thing we need to concern ourselves with now is the 36c forecast for next week!
Hope you all had a great Saturday!