10 February 2015

Roncesvalles to Zubiri

The albergue in Roncesvalles didn't stop its incredible hospitality after building the facilities... In the morning we were awoken by monks swinging bells and singing Gregorian chants as they walked through the dorms.  It was the most surreal (and peaceful) way to wake up ever. Such a great way to start the day!

We had another vending-machine breakfast of veggie medley, lentils and rice, and more espresso. This is Camino Lesson #4: If you're vegan, you may want to forgo your traditional ideas about breakfast foods... Sometimes it's best just to take in whatever calories you can get. The last thing you want is to skimp on nutrients and be sluggish later!

pueblo pleasantries
The walk to Zubiri was quite nice. We bumped into our Aussie friends from the first night again, and had coffee and chatted with them outside of a cafe.

Lunch was gazpacho (from the vending machine at Roncesvalles), corn cakes and pate. It's worth noting that for non-gluten-free-vegans, there are plenty of places to stop and pick up a warm, fresh baguette for mere cents... Look for "Panaderías" ... The traditional bakeries that still thrive in Spain. The bread will be fresher and cheaper there than at a supermarket. Some areas also have "Alimentación" shops: corner stores with all sorts of stuff, usually including a small bread oven.

simply wonderful.
We hoped to walk a little further than Zubiri, but later in the day decided to take it easy and rest there for the night. Looking back, we would have much preferred to stop a little farther in Larrasoana.

There are a number of pensiones (small hotels with private bedrooms) in Zubiri, but there is only the municipal albergue. It was cheap, but we were really disappointed in the accommodations. Two large rooms filled with crowded bunks (it was a busy night), open showers in the locker rooms, and minimal "kitchen" facilities (a 2-pot stove top that we had to share with all of the other pilgrims trying to make supper). It basically felt like summer camp.

After picking up some supplies at the little market near the town square (they had fresh produce and a good selection of non-perishable items), we waited our turn for the stove in the kitchen. Then we had our first dinner disaster!!!

First, I mistakenly bought "harina de maiz" thinking it was corn meal, when in reality it was corn flour. (As it turns out, they have the same name in Spanish, "harina".... Oops!) Polenta became rice "risotto" by adding bouillon and  2 disastrous ingredients: 1) powdered soy milk (reconsitute before adding to recipes!) and 2) way too much nooch (oops! accidentally dropped a bunch in!). We added frozen spinach for greens.

furiously trying to mix in all that nooch! 
Our second dish was TVP with tomato sauce and onion, which we sauteed with a small bottle of olive oil that A took from her airline salad.... Turns out it was lemon-infused!!

could definitely have been worse.
We sat down to our weird (although surprisingly quite tasty) meal, and then something great started to happen: other pilgrims sat down with their meals, bread was shared, wine was passed around, and we started have a great time! It's amazing how easily good company and nice conversation can change the mood of an evening. We got to meet some wonderful people that night, and forgot all about our cooking snafus.

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