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Published: September 19th 2018
No, not Chenobyl , or a nuclear plant in Japan. This one was all mine.
As those of us have the dubious pleasure to know, anxiety attacks come at the most unexpected times. My latest one popped up at 12.58 last night. These are quite irrational fears or reactions to things that usually never happen, but it’s very real at the time.
I put mine down to jet lag, airline food, making sure I don’t miss my train , even though I have 2 alarms set at 5 minutes apart, or the vegan meal I ate for dinner last night. The room I had was also very warm with no way of cooling it down. Another thing I hadn’t noticed until I went to close the curtain at bedtime, was that there wasn’t one. Normally I would consider the delightful lace silhouette of the balcony iron railing encircling the walls to be quite charming, but it’s presence throughout the entire night was very off putting.
Whatever it was, after a few deep breaths and a bit of perspective, I was OK. Unfortunately, sleeping afterwards was difficult so I had a shower at 6.10 and set off
The Ticket To The Unknown
I’ve got a good feeling about it. The backpack is heavier than I wanted but who cares. It’s all I have for 7 weeks.
for the station.
Two coffees at a bar on the way certainly had the blood running, and after a croissant at the station, I was ‘ alert but not alarmed’......until I had to walk 18 carriages to find my seat, no. 82 top level, at the end, or start, of the train. It was the furthest I had carried my backpack since I began training. It felt heavy but it’s less gear than I took last time so I will need to acclimatise, I hope.
The train was very hot and my fellow passenger, a woman in her 20’s, had the hand fanning her face to find relief. No luck there so she opted for falling asleep on the shoulder of the Australian guy sitting next to her. The shock and apology when she was jerked awake by the rolling of the train almost made it worth while...but only almost. Only my closest are allowed to do that; what a liberty!
The French countryside is a vast flat mix of wheat or other feed crops, mostly harvested and surrounded by hedges and forests. Wind turbines pop up in clusters of a dozen or more every so often
and disappear into the low lying fog that appears in the low troughs of land. Small villages and hamlets are regular visitors and look very French with their small white buildings surrounding the single church spire, which is the axis from which these towns develop around.
We stopped at Bordeaux to pick more passengers and I remembered that my son Tim was here last weekend with his fiancée Natalia. I hope it was better than the industrial impression it leaves as you pass through by train.
Bayonne was my change over point where I had 14 minutes to board the train for St.Jean Pied de Port, a medieval French village at the foot of the Pyrenees,and the start of the Camino Francés. I arrived in time to have a touristy afternoon and check out the village as I never had before.
St Jean is a pretty chilled out village and a fitting place to start a pilgrimage. The albergue I preferred is closed for 2018 so I found another place that’s possibly better. The owner gives an insightful talk about how to approach the Way, what to expect and also what not to expect. He was genuine,
funny and admitted he only remembered the first names of girls, particularly if they are pretty. Yes, he is French. Breakfast is €4, so for €21 I’m housed, washed and feed in the morning. When I last looked there was only a middle aged Frenchman sharing my room, ( and plugging into my charger, thanks very much ), so if he doesn’t mind snoring we’ll get along fine.
I visited the medieval church at the ancient gothic entrance to the town and sat and had a bit of quiet time away from the flow of tourists in the streets. Souvenir shops have emerged as the next industry in town and the Camino holds a fascination for many people who have no desire to walk it, or can’t.
I’ll finish up here even though the night is young. Everyone knows SJPP rocks after dark. Yeah right.
So far I’ve met Mike and Beth, retired Americans who live in a cabin on a lake in Wisconsin, 4 noisy, excited, giggling young women from Taiwan, Mik, a guy from Japan, and all but the Americans are staying here.
Well that’s it for now, I’ll be in bed early tonight;
My Room In The Albergue.
Spacious, paper sheet and pillow case for the bed supplied , and only one roommate.
tomorrow I have a mountain to conquer.
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