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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 43.164, -1.23711
Unfortunately, neither of us got much sleep on the flight from JFK to Madrid, the good news was that we arrived about a 1/2 hour early. It turned out that we needed it.
Customs was a breeze but a mile walk and then a shuttle from Terminal 1 to 4, for our flight to Biarritz on Iberia Air. Iberia had several check in areas and after we found the right one we were in line for nearly an hour and were told our packs could not be carry-ons and we had to pay 30 euro each.
On our flight to Biarritz, at least half of the passengers were pilgrims. We left right on time at noon and arrived at 13:00. Our bags arrived quickly and we headed to the bus for the Bayonne train station. The cost was 1 euro and a taxi was 25. There was some confusion about which bus went all the way to the station and we know several pilgrims got on the wrong one, luckily, not us.
The 30-minute bus ride got us to the Bayonne station in plenty of time for our 14:55 connection to St. Jean, which turned out to be a coach
style bus. 90% of those on the full bus were pilgrims. Really a pretty drive through the very hilly country side, which followed a white water raftable river.
The bus dropped us at the St. Jean train station right at 15:00 and after a few pictures and short walk we were at our first albergue, the Gite Izaxulo by 15:30. It had room for maybe 20 people but only a couple of private rooms, for which we had a reservation. After 24 hours of travel on little sleep, we were not up for a night in a dorm.
St. Jean is a beautiful 13th century town in the French Pyrenees, complete with stone arched bridges and winding narrow streets lined with shops. As all good pilgrims, our first stop was the Pilgrim Office. It was completely packed with pilgrims getting their credentials. We had already gotten ours from the American Pilgrims Office prior to coming so we left and returned later to ask a few questions. The temperature was in the mid-90's so we found a cute sidewalk cafe and had a much needed beer. Then we literally walked across the street for pizza and salad. We were exhausted and in bed
by 20:00. It is now 4:55 and we have been up since 3:00. Our "body clocks" are a little off and we are anxious to start our journey. Unfortunately, breakfast is not until 6:30!
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