Camino del Norte – Day 5 – Ibiri Auzoa to Zenarruza, 26km

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12th September, 2019

  • Day 5: Ibiri Auzoa to Zenarruza
  • Distance: 26km
  • Weather: Sunny and warm
  • Accommodation: Albergue Monasterio de Zenarruza, € donation

The other pilgrims wake early and it’s dark and cold outside. My clothes haven’t dried so I pull on wet socks and a wet shirt. It’s ok, the first few minutes will be a bit unpleasant but they’ll dry soon enough. I repeat my new ritual of eating a kiwi fruit, apple and yoghurt for breakfast (if only I could be this healthy at home!), then step out into the crisp morning. The trail is in the forest, one minute I’m descending into mist covered valleys, and the next I’m standing on top of another hill with expansive views. It’s so beautiful.

Basque countryside views on a misty morning

Basque countryside views on a misty morning

Basque countryside views

Basque countryside views

As soon as the sun comes up, the temperature skyrockets and I’m sweating buckets. There’s nowhere to stop for 20km and nothing open until Markina, so when I finally arrive, I make a beeline to a cafe for an Aquarius sports drink, my first coffee (!) and a slice of tortilla. But this isn’t just any slice of tortilla. There are three varieties on the counter, one with aubergine, one with tuna and one ‘normal.’ I opt for the normal, straight from the kitchen and I savour every mouthful. Two days ago I was on the brink of saying no more tortilla on this Camino, and then this!

Basque countryside views

Basque countryside views

Refreshed, I stop at the supermarket for a few more supplies (you know the gist by now; a kiwi fruit, apple, yoghurt + chocolate) and then continue on my way. I’m heading to the albergue at Monasterio de Zenarruza. I don’t have a reservation (it’s not possible to reserve) but I know the albergues in Markina and the town before the monastery are both full, so hopefully that’s where all the pilgrims have stopped and I can get a bed.

The old stone path up to the monastery is very scenic and I imagine pilgrims in medieval times treading on the same cobbles. Were they wearing an ankle and knee brace too and concentrating on every step? Or maybe they had bigger worries like where they would get their next meal and find water…

I arrive at the 11th century Monasterio de Zenarruza (a National Monument) with Steph from Canada and Doris from Germany and it takes us a few minutes to find the main entrance. There are 11 backpacks lined up at the door so we add ours to the queue and I go and explore. I love the fact pilgrims have been coming here seeking shelter for centuries; there was once a pilgrim hospital that burnt down, and now there’s an albergue.

A monk gathers everyone up and speaking quite good English, he explains that there are two bunk rooms, Vespers will be at 7.30pm and then dinner will be held in the main bedroom at 8pm. I find a bed in the main bedroom, have a shower (it’s a great shower but the light doesn’t work so I have to prop the door open with a chair), and then I wander over to the gift shop curious to try one of the beers brewed right here by the monks at the monastery.

Monasterio de Zenarruza

Monasterio de Zenarruza

Ziortza, a craft beer made by the monks at Monasterio de Zenarruza

Ziortza, a craft beer made by the monks at Monasterio de Zenarruza… it’s a little sour for my taste

Back in the room, I help the monks set the tables for dinner and we’re served a large pot of hearty vegetable pasta soup. A group of Italian pilgrims hand out figs they picked on the way, and this makes for a fine dessert. I’m again happy and very grateful.

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4 responses to “Camino del Norte – Day 5 – Ibiri Auzoa to Zenarruza, 26km

  1. Hola Kat
    I’m loving your posts, thank you.
    My husband and I started on the Norté on the 26 August so we were just ahead of you. We stayed at the same albergues as you have so far except the first night we stayed at the 12 tribes donativo just before San Sebastián.
    It’s nice reliving the pilgrimage through your blog.
    Buen Camino
    Nick x

    Liked by 1 person

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