And They’re Off

A lot of local flooding earlier this year meant that we had to take the bus from Bayonne to our starting point of St. Jean Pied-de-Port, but we got there just fine and had a lovely stay at the very welcoming Hostel Beileri. A reasonably early start was in order as the first day of the Camino is the hardest from this starting point, if you select the high route – – – which of course we did.

Great views and a lot of good company (including that of many sheep and some ponies) is the reward, but our 15 mile hike included about 4500′ of climbing, so I ended the day pretty beat.

I walked for a good part of the morning with a German fellow and we talked at length about world problems, traveling, and whatever else entered our heads. He talked to me in English and I talked to him in German, a mutually beneficial exercise. I love this sort of thing.

We stayed at an Albergue associated with a monastery in Roncesvalles (“valley of thorns”). It’s quite an operation, I think the biggest Albergue along the Camino, and modern & nice with a number of great volunteers running the place.  (an Albergue is a kind of inexpensive hostel)   

Day two was easier insofar as we only had perhaps 900′ of elevation, but our 17 mile day was still a bit challenging as my legs hadn’t really recovered from the first day.

Again, some great conversation along the way and at the Albergue afterwards. We hiked in the afternoon and are in the same Albergue with an American woman who has been living a sort of vagabond traveling lifestyle for just under a year now, and still loves it. Inspiring, and fun to talk with her.  I really love talking to people who live life very differently, or have very different world views. I think our country would be better if more of us had the opportunity to become acquainted with and talk at length with people from a variety of different countries.

Our plan for day three is to hike right through Pamplona and sleep in a village a few miles beyond.  Okay by me, as I’ve seen Pamplona before. It’s a nice city, and there’s more to it than Hemingway themed tourist stuff and the running of the bulls.   We’ll see!

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