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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 42.9785, -1.36637
After a breakfast at the albergue of good coffee, a great baguette and assortment of jams, our Camino officially started. Our first day of trekking was over before we knew it. We began walking at 7:30, just before sunrise. We only had 8km today, but it was all uphill, probably about 2,000 foot elevation gain. We arrived at the albergue Refuge Orisson about 9:30.
The hike up was spectacular with constant views of the hillsides dotted with small farms and grazing cattle or sheep with their bells ringing. The houses, barns and out-buildings were all white stucco with red tiled roofs. We were almost always within sight of other pilgrims. Several passed us in the first kilometers and all but a few were passed by us before we reached Refuge Orisson. The last 30 minutes were in a light to heavy mist and not knowing where we were in comparison to Refuge Orisson, we donned the raincovers just 10 minutes before we arrived.
The albergue is in a very picturesque location overlooking the valley with sheep grazing nearby. It is a typical Basque stone building and the restaurant is packed all day with pilgrims. When we arrived, we checked in, got
our credentials stamped and were told that the room would be ready in about two hours. We waited in the dining room and drank good Americano coffee. Our wait was at least two hours. There is no wi-fi. Our dormitory room has three bunk beds. We were given a token for a 5-minute shower. There are two showers in both the Men's and Women's rooms.
We unpacked some things, hung our wet clothes on the clothesline and went back to the dining room to snack on bread, cheese and trail mix. After chatting with Tina, a young woman we met earlier, we headed up to our dorm room to take a nap. Dave got a short one before another couple checked into our room. So, back to the dining room for an afternoon aperitif and some blog writing. Dinner is at 6:30 so we are trying to be productive (and we left our half-read books in the albergue this morning to get rid of some weight!).
We have already met and chatted with people from all over Europe, Australia and of course the USA. The common language does bring us together. We have also bumped into people from the JFK/Madrid flight
and several from our bus ride from Bayonne.
We have learned that many people have their heavy luggage sagged ahead and walk with a day sack, maybe 1/2 the people at the Orisson. Makes us feel better because our packs are on the large size and we could not figure out how people were carrying such small packs -- now we know!!
While hanging out in the dining room, we saw five huge hogs outside the albergue -- maybe dinner!
No pork but a great dinner of: vegetable soup, roasted chicken, a vegetable dish and an almond custard for dessert - the French know how to cook. Dinner was great but the highlight was getting a chance to visit with the other pilgrims. They came, literally, from around the world: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, Sweden, Canada but we believe the USA had the largest delegation.
In our room there were three bunk beds, us, a couple from Vancouver, WA and a woman from New Zealand and one from Australia. We all got along great and chatted until our self-imposed lights out at 22:00.
Great first day in the Camino!
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