I had a late start to my morning. It was just after 9 am when I left the hotel for a quick walk about within a small area around the train station to have some breakfast and take in a few sights before taking the train to Bayonne and then to the starting point of the El Camino at St. Jean Pied de Port.
I walked a few blocks and stumbled upon a market place. I was able to pick up two apples and some nuts for my journey. Farther along was St. Michel’s cathedral. I walked down Victor Hugo street taking in the old buildings, the people of Bordeux lingering over their morning expresso and croissants and store grates being rolled up for the day. I discovered a cathedral which has the bell tower separate from the church to reduce the vibration of the bell ringing. Staying on victor Hugo street, I came to the meeting place with the crooked tower.
I returned back to collect my backpack and head for the train station with hopes of finding a cafe for a breakfast of protein. I enjoyed my egg and cheese omelette and another half cup of French coffee. I was very happy that this cafe provided a carafe of water at no charge.
I headed into the train station to locate what platform I needed to make my connection. I found the platform and was trying to decifer if I indeed was on the right platform. I was looking at the people arriving at the platform when suddenly ahead of me was someone with the exact same deuter backpack as mine. The young lady had spied my El Camino badge that I had glued to my backpack and informed me that she too was heading to St. Jean Pied de Port to walk the El Camino. Her name was Ericka and she is an architect from Brasilla, the capital of Brazil, and was spending 31 days on her journey. She had been planning this trip for 20 years since reading Paulo Coelho’s book The Pilgrimage at the age of 13.
Our train was an half hour late leaving Bordeaux but once underway both of us had a nap.
Once we arrived in Bayonne, we knew we were definitely at the right station as there were other pilgrims waiting for the train. The train to St. Jean Pied de Port was all up hill, the countryside changing from flat farmland to rolling hills, streams and many more trees.
Ericka had prebooked her albergue at the L’Esprit du Chemin, so after exchanging emails I headed to the Accueil pelerins to check in. There were five volunteers assisting pilgrims as they arrive in this small village to begin their journeys to Santiago de Compostela. Thanks to Jacques who gave me various instructions about the route ahead, was able to call ahead and reserve a spot for me at the albergue in Orisson which is 8 kms from St. Jean Pied de Port.
Jacques was also able to find a gite for two nights, so I can have a day of rest before starting. He did give me a map showing where Zuharpeta was located. After checking in and ditching my backpack and boots, I went in search of food just a few steps from the gite. Upon returning to the gite, a couple from Luxembourg were enjoying their evening meal in the common room. They had spent twelve days walking in reverse from Logrono to St. Jean Pied de Port. We chatted about their journey and bidding me good luck on my journey, I headed to my room.
My joys in this day:
Meeting Ericka. I wish you well on your journey as I know how nervous you were. Enjoy the other European cities after your walk. Stay in touch. Let me know how you liked the train station in Berlin.
The wonderful volunteers who guide pilgrims and make their journey a little less stressful.
The young woman who was kind enough to walk me to the gite after I somehow made a wrong turn. I wonder how I did that, I even had a map!
The cute puppy who begged for my pistachios on the train. Yes, even dogs can travel the train. I don’t know it a ticket is required though.