Day One : St Jean Pied de Port, France to Ronscevalles, Spain. 26 kms

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September 24th 2014
Published: September 27th 2014
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I think the late Chrissie A. was right, there's a fine line between pleasure and pain and I think I crossed into pain today. Nothing much can prepare you for the first stage of the Camino. We had breakfast at the albergue at 6.30am and headed out into the street to begin walking. The night before was an Aussie contingent with Libby and Doug from Tasmania, Connor and Beth from Canberra and Sue and me from Victoria .

The walk to Orisson is 8 kms up a steep hill and we were informed it then becomes an easier crisscross sort of walk to the peak. Rubbish ! It was a grind the whole way, over tarred tracks, dirt tracks, and tracks that were covered in rocks. The latter were mainly downhill. We walked through shaded beech forests, open country and at the peak, pea soup fog and mist so dense that you couldn't see 30 metres in front of you at times. At one point, near a memorial to a deceased pilgrim at the peak, we started down the wrong way in a fork in the road and was alerted by a man in a car. The next day we heard of a group of 3 who made the same mistake adding 5 hours to their day. I walked mainly with Doug and Libby as the others dropped back early. We all arrived at within 30 minutes of each other, exhausted, sore but mainly overwhelmed at achieving something some people had doubts about. Today was a 26km walk. Sue greeted us as we arrived as she caught a local transport to avoid irritating long standing issues with her knees. It's a pity, as I'm sure the only problem could have been the 3.5km descent into Ronscevalles. Overall it was a great day and I can understand why people come back to do it again.

The day was great, the monastery we are staying at is amazing with a modern fit out and I was never so grateful for a hot shower. Tonight we are off to a cafe for dinner, a 3 course pilgrim menu for 9 euros. The hostel is 10 euros each.

Tomorrow we head off early for an easier day and will walk for a couple of hours before breakfast .

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


A typical track !A typical track !
A typical track !

Actually, better than a few.
Nearly there, 3.5 kms down a rocky path. Nearly there, 3.5 kms down a rocky path.
Nearly there, 3.5 kms down a rocky path.

We can smell the finish...or maybe it's just us!

27th September 2014

Go Steve & Sue
Hey guys, well done. Love the update and great pix. Look forward to more adventures. (This is my second comment submission - dunno what happened to the previous one. It said something along the lines of "one foot in front of the other". Maybe the moderator deemed it too glib!)
27th September 2014

What first message?
No moderator here so I'm sorry to miss your earlier entry. Intermittent internet here so it can be frustrating. Having a ball, many 'money shot' opportunities here for Vespas and old villages. RRA might send you on assignment, thanks Ian
27th September 2014

Grand Final
Heyy, sounds hard but worthwhile! the experience would have been amazing! :) dad wants me to tell you that the Hawks have another premiership (by 10 goals), good win.....that should put a spring in your step. Good luck with the rest of your trip, loving the updates, your a great writer (dads compliment haha) have fun xx
27th September 2014

Enjoying yet another one of your blogs Steve. Photos are brilliant. Keep them coming. Take care.
27th September 2014

Wise Sue to skip that first knee-killing downhill! I met several people who said their traveling partners had to quit because of the damage caused that first day. Glad to hear the monastery was comfy. In 2003, there were 50 of us sleeping in one room--quite the unsyncopated snoring chorus. Great photos!
28th September 2014

Did you at any point wish you had booked a room in Orisson?
Or wish you had started in Roncesvalles?
28th September 2014

A great start
No Bob, after the first day your confidence grows. I would recommend people assess their capacity to do it and if it's only a little doubtful or nerves...go for it.

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