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St Jean Pied de Port - Starting point of Camino

Woke up at 3am....what the !!!! Tried everything to go back to sleep but gave up at 4.45am and got got up. Can't believe how late it is dark outside. Just started getting light at 7am and not fully light until 7.30am . No wonder I will need a torch on the days I start walking at 6am ! Had a great French breakfast of yummy warmed breads with butter and cheese and a peach. Chatted with a lady from Belgium who is starting walking today. I am sure we will see each other again !

Walked around town for an hour and a half and loved it! Bucketed down rain for about 30 minutes and got pretty wet even with my poncho on. Looked around the cathedral and fortified city walls, parks and cobblestones streets. Called Alaiya for her 4th birthday and then headed over to the station where I bought my train ticket for 9 E. As I waited for the next hour the station had lots of pilgrims arrive with their packs. Interesting to see the wide range of ages from teenagers to approx late 60's. Chatted with an older couple from Denmark before boarding and then a girl from Colorado on the train ride.

The scenery was stunning for the hour ride , rushing rivers with white water rafting, steep mountains, beautiful basque style home with white painted walls and red shutters on the windows and doors. Followed the crowd to the pilgrim office in town where it took an hour to get my passport and booked into a hostel.

Seriously so excited as it was my turn and I filled out my pilgrims passport details and paid 2E for my passport, a donation for my scallop shell on my backpack and 8E for my hostel which includes breakfast. It wasn't a problem that I hadn't booked accomodation as they just asked if you had and assigned you to a municipal hostel. Bit better price than last nights hotel for 75 E!!!!

It was all very efficient and run by volunteers. My hostel was just up the road at number 55 in the cobble stoned street of Rue La Citadelle in a beautiful old basque style building right at the end of the old town next to the city walls that lead up to the Citadelle high above...just stunning!! I have a bottom bunk beside the window which looks out to outstanding view over the valley below and surrounding mountains!

Dumped the backpack and headed straight out to explore and spent an amazing 3 hours just in love with this beautiful old town. Even though there was light drizzle a few times requiring the poncho it didn't take away from the beauty of this old cobblestones streets in the town, the river and mountains. Up to the citadelle first for a view over town and then found a pathway down to the river through beautiful woods. I followed the river out of town and the serenity and quietness was breathtaking in its stillness. Sat and just drank it in and then continued my wanderings, over an old stone bridge, back to the city walls and the out of town along the streets I will leave on tomorrow possibly in the dark.

Back in town I admired the old buildings with names of owners from the 15th century and the dates they lived there. Walked up on the city walls which are still intact back up to the citadelle and back around the other side and back to the main street to find a shop to buy lunch food for tomorrow. Bought a baguette and cheese and apples.

Back at the hostel and showered and got my bag organized and ditched some stuff to cut back my weight. Opposite me met a lady from Holland who has just finished 700 km coming down through France. Chatted for ages and then met Josh from Canada who just finished school. Set out for a wifi hunt which took ages and only 1 place in town . Off now to get myself a pilgrims meal of 3 course for 12 e an then early night before my big day tomorrow. In love with this whole experience!!!!

Camino map

Camino map


Registering at the Pilgrims office

Registering at the Pilgrims office


Arrived at train station

Arrived at train station


Pilgrims line

Pilgrims line


My albergue on the left

My albergue on the left


Scallop shell on on our albergue door

Scallop shell on on our albergue door


Basque Buildings in Bayonne

Basque Buildings in Bayonne


Bayonne

Bayonne


View from Albergue window

View from Albergue window


Dorm on 1st night

Dorm on 1st night


Looking over St Jean Pied Du Port

Looking over St Jean Pied Du Port


Basque style with red shutters

Basque style with red shutters


Bridge over the river

Bridge over the river


Town Gates

Town Gates


City Walls

City Walls


La Citadelle - the main street of old town

La Citadelle - the main street of old town


Looking down at our albergue

Looking down at our albergue


Looking down at our albergue

Looking down at our albergue


River reflections

River reflections


Albergue on the left with the scallop shell

Albergue on the left with the scallop shell

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in France

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