El Camino Day 1

I’m back on the Camino again having caught the bug from last year. I decided halfway through the year that I would like to do the whole Camino from start to finish. I know there are many places that it can be started from but the official one is from Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port just inside the French boarder in the Pyrenees. It’s approximately 800kms from there to Santiago. I’m travelling with my Camino buddy Ron again.

Getting from Sydney to St Jean involved just over 31 hours of travel with three flights and a taxi journey. We flew into Pamplona from a connection in Madrid and was greeted by a young Spanish taxi driver to whisk us to St Jean. And whisk he certainly did. Ron and I were wondering if we’d make the Camino before we started as he hit 130kms per hour in some places and took corners without breaking and overtook cars that were getting in his way.s All this while he was browsing Spotify on his phone trying to choose an appropriate track to go with his manic driving methods. The road to St Jean was very windy as we were travelling through the Pyrenees.

We arrived at St Jean at around 7pm thankfully with both of us feeling very fatigued and heads spinning with motion sickness from the cab journey. It was a brush of the teeth and straight to bed for us. Neither of us felt like eating and the thought of going out and looking for food and translating from French to English seemed all too hard as well. Sleep was welcomed and I think I slept for about 12 hours.

The next morning we ventured out thinking that the weather was going to be atrocious by the predictions of our hotelier from the night before. High winds and rain were forecast for today but we were met with drizzle and a bit of a breeze. Nothing drastic. After a breakfast of baguette and fried eggs washed down with a couple of cafe Americanos we visited the Camino Passport Office to get our Camino Passports stamped officially.

Inside the church where Mass was celebrated
The church from the outside
The river runs by the church
Looking the other way from the church
Walking out of town
Looking back to St Jean

After Mass was finished we set out for our walk today being just 13kms. More than we anticipated but welcomed nonetheless. The clouds looked ominous but thankfully didn’t deluge us we walked out of town.

Heading out of town
Our first Camino arrow on the telegraph post ahead

There was a short walk along the road out of town with no designated path but it wasn’t long before we were directed off to a secondary road.

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The road to Roncesvalles is uphill all the way. I think we go from about 200 metres to 1000 metres over these next two days.

Some sheep and their shepherds we passed
More country lanes
France is on the left and Spain on the right

There was a bit of walking to do to get into town. Most of the day was spent walking in France but we did cross the border a couple of times into Spain and then back again as the path took us off the main road and into farmland.

And finally our town for the evening up on the hill, Valcarlos
The view from our hotel for the evening

A good days walk for our first day. Longer than we expected as we’d planned 5kms originally thinking we were taking the Napoleon Route. Time now for dinner and a beer.

For today’s map and stats, you’ll find it here.

Buen Camino! 😊