The easy to moderate commemorative trail with experienced guides, from Burdintxuruketa col above Mendibe-Cize to Otsagabia in Navarre, will involve a two-day walk (each of approximately 4 hours). We will thus emulate the escape route of 75 years ago. Places of historic and other interest will be pointed out on the way and tribute events with local people and representatives in Mendibe, Casas de Iraty, Otsagabia, Donostia/San Sebastian and Hernani are to be programmed.
Friday, 28 June 2019, 19:30
Participants from abroad to arrive at the Olarain hotel in Donostia-San Sebastián. Briefing at 19:30 in hotel conference room. Free evening – recommended walk down to the beach and along the picturesque “Concha” marine promenade to the Old Town of this Basque city with its gastronomic “pintxos” (tapas).
Saturday, 29 June 2019, 08:00
After breakfast and at 08:00 sharp, our coach will leave the Olarain hotel with walking and non-walking participants for Mendibe village in the French Basque country where, at about 10.00, we will meet local people and representatives for a tribute event to give thanks to all those in this region, such as Charles Schepens and local guide Jean (Manex) Sarotxar, who helped fugitives escape during WWII. We will see the latter’s grave (inscribed “Hero of two World Wars”) in the village churchyard.
The coach will then take us the 15 minutes up through some of the most spectacular mountain countryside in the Basque Country and the little chapel of Saint Sauveur (890 metres), where there is a memorial plaque to the helpers of the escape line operation.
Another 5 minutes in our coach and we start the first leg of the walk at approximately 11:00 from the col at Burdintxuruketa, to walk for an hour alongside the Urbeltz (Blackwater) stream until we come to the Chez Pedro safe house and a 5-minute rest. Then another hour on a flat or gently upward walk along well-beaten paths and through the beautiful Irati forest (the largest beech wood in western Europe) to the frontier at Orgate and a short rest. The last hour by foot is a gently undulating descent, still through the famous forest and skirting the river Irati, to the Casas de Iraty/Iratiko Etxeak in Navarre (3-4-hour, 11km walk in total). Lunch will be taken here not later than 15:00, to be paid for in situ. A tribute ceremony will be held.
The coach will then collect us here to take us the 2-hour drive to the Navarre capital of Pamplona and our city centre hotel, Maisonnave, where there will be free time. At 19:30, there will be an optional free guided tour of the city centre streets which host the annual July Bull Running festival of Saint Fermín, made internationally famous by Ernest Hemingway and his writings, as well as along the spectacular ramparts of Pamplona, a city with a long history of military defence since Roman times. 21:00 dinner at an emblematic city restaurant (cost 25€, to be paid at the restaurant).
Sunday, 30 June 2019, 08:00
At 08:00 sharp, after breakfast in the hotel (from 07:00 and included in the BPFTA agreed tariff for hotel guests-participants), the coach will leave the hotel to take us back to Casas de Iraty/Iratiko Etxeak for a 10:00 start to walk the second leg to Otsagabia in Navarre. The freedom Trail will take us again through the Irati forest, then a 4 km, 650m climb up to the Abodi crest and the Las Alforjas pass, and down to Otsagabia. for about 15.00 (a 4-5-hour, 12km walk). Here there will be a tribute event with local people and authorities to give thanks to all those in the region who helped fugitives escape during WWII. Lunch locally to be paid in situ).
At about 16:30 our coach will then collect us to take us back to Donostia/San Sebastián for 18:00 and a final, short tribute to Lizarrizuri, the former Belgian consul and helper in the escape line. We then return to the Olarain hotel and free time.
Monday, 30 June 2019, lunchtime
For those remaining on the Monday, there is an optional visit to the nearby town of Hernani with its monument to the local mountain guides who helped escapers and evaders during ww2, followed by lunch in a local cider house (cost c.35€ to be paid at the restaurant). Participants to arrange own transport (private car or taxi).
NOTES ON ACCOMMODATION (All prices include VAT)
Taking into account the good quality of the hotels and the high-season, favourable tariffs have been agreed with both hotels for the BPFTA group. In order to take advantage of this deal, each participant must book directly, quoting “BPFTA”. Our block reservation tariffs quoted below are applicable until March 2019. After that date or otherwise once our block booking is full, room availability is not guaranteed, or at these tariffs.
For Friday and Sunday nights, 28 and 30 June, at the Olarain hotel, Ondarreta Pasealekua, 24, 20008 Donostia, Gipuzkoa. Phone: 943 003300; email: firstname.lastname@example.org The room tariffs for the Olarain hotel in San Sebastian are: Friday night (with early Saturday breakfast): single use of a room 80€; double room for two 104€. Sunday night (without breakfast): single use of a room 70€; double room for two 84€.
For Saturday 29 June at Maisonnave hotel, Calle Nueva, 20, 31001 Pamplona, Navarra. Phone: 948 222600; email: email@example.com Hotel Manageress, Esther, and Reception Manager, Jaime, will help you. Single room (or double for individual use) with breakfast for one: 70.40€; double room for two with breakfast for two: 85.80€.
Participants who wish to stay at Olarain or other hotel in Donostia/San Sebastian prior to 28 June or after 30 June they will need to make those arrangements directly with the hotel, not necessarily at the BPFTA-agreed tariff.
NOTES ON TRANSPORT and LOGISTICS
A coach will be at our disposal from 08:00 on Saturday until Sunday evening. Please note that coach pick-up and drop-off points in Donostia/San Sebastian and Pamplona during the weekend are at the two BPFTA-listed hotels only. As logistics back-up, the vehicle, with non-walking participants, will shadow our walks as much as road access allows.
The cost per participant, walker and non-walker, is 70€. This includes transport for the two days, back-up logistics, and the guides.