I figured it’s about time I post about my time on the Camino. I’ve got a lot of pics, so I’ll break them up between a few posts.
I landed in Biarritz airport on a sunny lunchtime. The bus to Bayonne train station was reasonably well populated with suspiciously clean-looking backpacker types, and it didn’t take more than a few minutes before all of us worked out that we were all, in fact, off to the same place. The fact that we all got onto the same rather tiny train to St Jean Pied de Port didn’t hurt, either.
SJPDP is one of those gorgeous old mountain towns that you see on postcards- all small cobbled streets, old buildings and outdoor cafes.
Just out of the train, looking for a map:
First thing was to pop over to the Camino office and get our pilgrims’ passports. Two euro a pop gets you access to all the pilgrims’ hostels along the way. The municipal hostels normally run at around €6 a night. I gather this is awesome when it’s not the middle of high season and you’re sharing a room with 30 snoring people..
Here’s the map of the Camino Francés route, from the SJPDP camino office:
The others went to find hostels, but I’d had a moment of panic the night before and booked myself a hotel. A rather pretty hotel, although I must have walked past it four or five times before I found the place.
The view from outside the window. From my phone, for some reason, and it absolutely doesn’t do the view justice. But here, have some Pyrenees:
The next morning should technically have involved crossing the Pyrenees. I… didn’t do this. I’d gotten the idea that there was nowhere to get food or to stay for the next 27ish kilometres, and had also had the worst night’s sleep and woken up feeling pretty damn godawful. (Hint: several days of moving house +unpleasant&headwrecking personal stuff + being alone and far from home ≠ a good night’s sleep. By the way.) I knew that Anna- one of the people I’d met the day before- had already sorted herself out with a lift over the mountains. I figured I’d see if I could tag along.
We got a lift over the mountains to Roncesvalles, just on the Spanish side of the border.
I may have been sleepy and self-pitying that morning, but once we were over the mountain, Anna was having none of it.
Some breakfast and liberal doses of syrupy-strong coffee later, we were on our way. 790km? Not a bother, right?
Day One was a little bit of rain, a little bit of getting lost, a whole lot of asking for directions, a little bit more getting lost (the directions may have been a wee bit vague), finally getting the hang of keeping our eyes out for yellow arrows. Walking through the woods. Stopping for lunch in a playground full of cats. A lot of trees.
Follow the yellow arrows!
Just in case you’d forgotten what to do:
..or where to go:
At the end of a long, long, loooong day’s walking we arrived (slowly and painstakingly) in Zubiri at about five-ish. Where I had my first experience of municipal hostels. This involved climbing up onto a bunk to have a bit of a relax, and waking up an hour and a half later to be informed that it was Absolutely Time For Eating Now. There was only one thing that could have gotten me out of that bed. Fortunately, this was it.
That’s all for now! Stay tuned for the next couple of days.