BUSKING TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA ; Still Beating off Pilgrims from around Every Corner, Our Intrepid Busker Finds That the Natives Are Also Bewildered

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Pilgrim fever! St James' day was a Sunday this year, so the pilgrimage is doubly holy. Fifteen thousand pilgrims have passed through Pamplona since the spring.

The staff in the pilgrims' hostel still look stunned when I arrive. Their bewilderment increases when I ask to stay two nights so I can go busking. "Are you ill?" No. They argue. Then call the boss. Boss ponders, then: "He can stay if he's ill." Muchas gracias... They're still arguing as I leave in search of accommodation. It's been a tough year.


Off with the pilgrim hat, on with the tromboning one. Busk in Pamplona's busy streets: I'm immediately approached by three beggars and a policeman. All speak Spanish at machine-gun speed. Erm... Habla ingles? They give up in disgust. Aha! A useful weapon... From then on ignored by everyone.


Pilgrim again! I'm getting schizoid. Climb farm tracks towards a line of electricity windmills (where are you, Don Quixote?) and westwards across Navarra, past tiny hilltop villages blessed with Romanesque churches (closed) and friendly bars (also closed). …