|From left: Alison, Elissa, Lisa, and Bart|
in Burguete before breakfast.
The name "Roncesvalles" means "valley of thorns," which fits the history (tragic), but not the scenery (gorgeous). This little vale was a setting for the immortal "Song of Roland" that recounts the demise of Charlemagne's beloved friend and lieutenant in 778 who pays the ultimate price for Charlemagne's earlier mistake.
According to one of the many legends accompanying this event, Charlemagne, the great French king, was marauding with his army in Northern Spain, fighting Moors in alliance with the local Basques of Pamplona. As he returned to France he decided to weaken his Basque allies by destroying the walls of the city of Pamplona. They were understandably miffed and after realizing they disliked the French almost as much as the Moors, the Basques attacked Charlemagne's rearguard, which was led by Charlemagne's pal. Roland sounded his mighty horn to alert Charlemagne of the danger, but in mistaking the meaning, Charlemagne kept on going over the pass (to St. Jean Pied-de-Port no less). Roland's men are brutally killed, lending a bloodthirsty pride to the Basques and a very French sense of tragedy to the epic poem "Chanson de Roland," one of the great works of literature from the Middle Ages.
|A sign, rudely placed at the outskirts of Roncesvalles.|
Perhaps its subtitle should read "Abandon Hope
All Ye Who Enter Here"
We lugged our packs on sore feet across bridges over the rivers, through the deep green woods, and then to Burguete for a cafe. As our travelers noted, I'm a sucker for chocolate croissants and was not disappointed by my reunion with the Basque version which is clearly influenced by the French, who bake their own just a few kms over the hill. We shared cafes con leche with folks we'd met as we climbed the pass yesterday, as well as people that we, well, slept with last night on the bunks at the monastery albergue.
|The municipal albergue at Larrasona (left door), |
conveniently situated in the same building as City Hall
To our astonishment, wine and water cost the same at dinner here. We good Methodists tested much of the stock of this little restaurant, and thanks to the tasty and cheap wine we headed for bed with a little less grumbling than the tough day deserved.
(Today's post is based on a portion of the 153.7 exercise miles logged by our cyber pilgrims as of Jan 31, 2011. Exercise total miles are: Alison, 9; Bart, 21; Dana, 1; Dawn, 5; Elissa, 35; Greta, 5.5; Jackie, 18; John, 3.2; Sandy, 21; Susan, 27. Watch for 4 new pilgrims to join us in Pamplona tomorrow.)