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Published: September 21st 2016
Well, this is the first internet I've had since arriving in Paris. Paris was lovely in the few hours we were there; the food is great and the coffee is not.
Fast forward to the train on the 19th that was meant to leave at 6.26 am. We had to be there 20 minutes early so that the train could leave 40 minutes late, apparently. The trains are very comfortable ( 2nd class) but I'm inclined to think the system is modelled on Melbourne Metro for reliability. Various announcements are delivered, after an introductory tune that we could not understand ( I just nodded knowingly so as not to look stupid to fellow travellers ), but one concerned me due to the unhappy look on the man sitting across from me. Drawing deep into my French vocabulary I lent across and said, " G'day!". I went on to receive the message that we were all being put off in Biarritz , which is fine if you have a few days and a surfboard, to travel by bus to Dax to meet our connection to Bayonne where another transports us to St Jean Pied de Port for an overnight stay before
walking. The bus arrived late and this set of a series of events that finally had us in SJPP at 7.20 at night, 3 hours late.
We bought our Camino passports, booked into a hostel and had a burger for dinner. Viva la France! I must add that our limited train travel through France was very nice. We travelled though green fields punctuated along the way by lovely quaint villages with slate roofs and cream or white walls. Onto the 20th, the start.
We were up early, had a light breakfast at the Alburgue ( hostel) and were out the door at 7.10. A quick stop to buy a roll for lunch and we set off up the Pyrenees . Now I thought I had a pretty good memory, but there were times when I wondered why I was there instead of at work having fun; that's how bad it was. Walking 21 kilometres up a steep, unrelenting mountain is very challenging , mentally and physically . Combine that with mist, fog and clouds, all the way to the top and it becomes a mission to get from A to B. We met some great people on the
way up and arrive at Roncevalles after 8 hrs of solid progress. Did I mention the 5 kilometres downhill; I think it is worse than walking uphill as far as your knees and feet go!
After a shower and some fresh clothes ( I came up pretty well even if I say so myself ) we had dinner with Rosie, an Irish nurse ( can't seem to get away from them), and two Irish brothers from a family of 11 kids. If all Irish people are as funny as these two I will be squeezing in a week there on the next holiday.. This night was so funny it inspired John to become Irish for the night. You had to be there. I don't think there is an Irish stereotype , they really are that mad, in a good way.
We were in bed at 10, just missing the lockout curfew, although the Irish lads had a few ideas on how we would gain entry if we had been locked out; none were legal!
We were up and walking in the dark by 7am. Headlamps blazing, we made good progress to Burguete for breakfast ; nothing open
so we walked another 4 kilometres to Espinal where we enjoyed tortillas and black coffee.
We walked all day at a good pace and this is another hard day consisting of steep rocky descents and ascents but the various villages and lovely scenery made the time pass quickly. ( a quick note: the Irish boys just walked in our alburgue door, OMG, it will be on again.)
We had a tasty jamon and cheese roll for lunch at Zubiri and seemed to arrive in Larrasoaña shortly afterwards; the time flew. This is a great alburgue and for €22 we get a comfy bed and dinner. That's up to date for now, the pictures will fill in the gaps.
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