Day 1 and 2 on the Camino

I loved St Jean Pied de Port.  Little French village that is really old.  It has a citadel and ramparts all around the old town which you can walk around. Cobblestone and tiny streets and of course to add to its cuteness there is a river running through it.  

I stayed in the first of many Albergue’s which are the pilgrim hostels.   It is like being back in boarding school with 20 bunk beds in a room.  Of course as I walk on they may be smaller or larger.  No men’s and women’s we are all in together and same with the bathrooms.  Everyone is so friendly and chatty and of course from all over the world.  Haven’t come across many Australians but that is ok.  

As there are so many people in the rooms and everyone is keen to get started most people are up at 5-6am and off.  I have been sleeping like a log.  In bed by 9 and up at 5 but feeling so good for it.  

First day on the trail most people had headed off by 8 but I had to post  some surplus stuff from my Paris week on to Santiago so I didn’t have to carry it.  

I set off from SJPDP at about 9.20 and it was raining so on with the poncho and off.  I was walking with Palestinian’s. Mother and son, French, Mexican. A lot of Brazilian’s polish, and Americans and they are all my age or around that age so lots of comraderie.  

I had been told that the first and second day were the hardest and they weren’t kidding.   On the road from SJPDP and it was virtually straight up hill, windy, raining, cold and we were walking in cloud so visibility was nonexistent but no cared it was just pure fun.  No one was in a rush everyone was walking at their own pace.   It was a very steep climb and took 2.5hrs to walk 8kms. First stop was orisson halfway up the Pyrenees on the way to Roncesvalles.  I had booked to stay in the refuge there and it was gorgeous. Here are photos of SJPDP and the walk over the ‘hill’ into Orisson.  Luckily once I got there it cleared and the view down the valley was spectacular 

Ok I seem to be having a bit of difficulty loading a few photos so will keep on with my blog and try later.  

Orisson was lovely. Just a very small refuge.  Luckily I had booked. Only 2 rooms with 5 bunk beds in them.  Of course we all arrived so wet and everything was wet so we had to try s dry everything. Luckily they had dryers and a bar.  So it was a hot shower shoved the wet things in the dryer and down to the restaurant for hot homemade soup and bread and sangria.  As I had left early in the morning and only had to go 10kms I was there by 11.30 so had all afternoon to while away the time. Luckily I had my book, lots of people to talk to and some sangria.  

All the pilgrims accommodation includes dinner and breakfast.   Breakfast is bread (baguettes) butter and jam and tea or coffee.   All meals are communal at long tables and set menus so just put on the table.  Dinner last night was soup followed by roast chicken pieces and peas and carrot and potatoes in a big bowl.  Big carafe of red wine and desert was an almond custard pie.   Very delicious and we all had to get up and introduce ourselves and say why we were here.  It was so emotional.  Cancer survivors, mothers and daughters husbands and wives. Every possible reason to do this wonderful walk.  

It was then into bed and didn’t hear a thing until I woke up at 5am this morning.  

At least today it wasn’t raining. Still a little overcast but clearing. Set off with my Brazilian friend Guillermo and we walked together today.  He was a geophysicist who has just retired from Rio de Janeiro.   

The refuge at Orisson had given us a sandwich as there was nothing on the way to Roncesvalles which was 16kms down the road but over the Pyrenees.  All I wanted to do all day as we walked through the clouds on top of the world was sing. The hills are alive with the sound of music!!!! Very like that last scene only it was overcast.   So we walked and walked and eventually crossed the mountain and came down the other side.  It was soooo steep.  Thank goodness for my walking poles.  Very hard on the knees also and of course very muddy and slippery but such a sense of achievement when the sun came out as we arrived at the monastery in Roncesvalles.  

It is so beautiful in this part of the country and of course I am now in Spain.  

I am not having any luck posting photos so will wait until I have better wifi. 

It is time for a sangria so adios amigos until my next blog. 

  

 
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The beginning 

I got a fabulous fast train down south today to Bayonne and then changed trains and headed into St Jean Pied de Port.  Very old town at the bottle of the Pyrenees.  Big climb tomorrow and there has been lots of  rain so will be lots of mud as I make my way over the mountains.  I will be singing the hills are alive with the sound of music.  A few of you reading this will understand.   

Have my credential (passport) for my pilgrimage and just done a huge walk around the town.  Went to the bishops prison and walked the ramparts.  

Just had a beautiful dinner and lots of rose in a lovely restaurant over the river.  I am loving the history and the age of everything.  Lots of world heritage listed places.  

So many different nationalities here.  Lots of Australians but lots more Spanish polish French South America german.  Just a plethora of nationalities.  

So here are a few photos of the day and the town.  

A week in Paris

My week in Paris is almost over.  I have walked virtually every inch of the city.  Seen the Eiffel Tower both day and night, l’arc de triumphe, Notre dame, pantheon, Sorbonne, walked the champs élysées sat in coffee shops, taken a river cruise down the seine had a walking tour of Montmartre as well as the Marais district and a lovely friend who lives in the Latin quarter took me for a walk all through that area.  I love the Architecture, the history the public transport system and cannot believe I actually touched and saw buildings that were built in 500AD.   Amazing.  I leave tomorrow to take a train down toSt Jean Pied de Port and start the Camino on Monday.  

Life is good and I love life. 

As you may have heard I have phone difficulties which means I am without internet unless I am in a cafe or place that has wifi so this may be intermittent or you could get an update every day.  

The main thing is I am having a ball.  

Until next time.  Here are a few photos 

The countdown is on!

I am starting to count the sleeps.  12 to go and I am now getting more excited than I was before and my mind is wandering away from work even though there is still a lot to do.

I thought I would post a map of where I will be walking.

I get the train from Paris through Bayonne into St Jean Pied de Port and stay overnight and start my walk on Monday 11 September.  From then on anything could happen and I am ready!!

Below is the map of Spain and I will be walking the orange trail through Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, Astorga into Santiago.  The other maps are the journey broken up into days and kms so you can get an idea of approximately where I am.

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