Camino -2 days: Arriving St Jean Pied de Port

Today I will finally arrive in St Jean Pied de Port… But first…

It is mid-morning in Bayonne and I have just spent 9€ on breakfast in the hotel.

The breakfast price was for convenience, not for the ingredients. Although I drank 2 cups of tea and 3 espressos with my bread. That should keep me going a while…

Hotel Cote Basque check out is 11am. The train from Bayonne to St Jean Pied de Port will leave just before 3pm. Hence, I got ample time to wander the streets of Bayonne.

Some reflections from the day that I will finally arrive in Saint Jean Pied de Port.

Weather forecast:

The TV was on in the breakfast room this morning. There is severe flooding in the Marseille area. Looked bad. Although, it appeared that the weather system arrived from the south. From the Mediterranean Sea and may not reach where I will be.

I have followed the weather forecast for the Pyrenees over the two days that I plan to cross it. There is always forecasted rain and wind in there somewhere. Different weather sources have provided different information so that didn’t help.

I am a bit worried about my planned day 2 and the descent towards Roncesvalles. I have read enough to realize that the descent can be quite slippery. Falling and taking a hit with my right arm could be disastrous.

What can I do?

Wait for the day and see what the weather forecast is then. Be careful. Go slow. Buy a pair of hiking poles in St Jean Pied de Port may help.

There is an alternative “bad weather” way instead of Route Napoleon across the Pyrenees. That would bypassing Hostel Orrison where I have already booked my first Camino night. It would also mean a close to 30km first Camino walking day. Not my preference but it is an alternative.

Itchy red body spots in the morning:

I have woken up the last 2 mornings with itchy red spots on my body in a few places. First reaction, bed bugs. But it happened at Lise and Greg’s place too. I am a bit allergic to cats. But the same happened this morning. In different places to the first morning.

My gut feel is that the gym gear I was sleeping in triggered an allergic reaction. I don’t know for sure of course but I discarded the gym gear this morning. Just in case.

Despite unisex dorms in the albergues, I now intend to sleep in my undies and my base layer, at least for now. I do have a pair of leggings as well. Who cares anyway in the dorms? We will all be a bunch of dirty and smelly pilgrims with limited resources.

I don’t think that the spots are from bed bugs. I have had an itchy allergic reaction to my neck in the past which did last a while. Time will tell.

Baguettes and espressos (and food in general):

The French, well the Parisians at least, love baguettes and espressos.

Lise told me about local area restrictions for taking holidays in her Paris neighbourhood. The bakeries among themselves must ensure that there is always a bakery open in that local area. A sort of self-regulation. They are serious about their baguettes.

And not only for breakfast. They buy their baguettes with something inside it for lunch. Many seem to buy them late in the afternoon as well. Presumably for dinner.

Espressos are drunk in their small cups in cafes everywhere. For this tiny quantity of coffee, the Parisians seemed to be able to drag out a cafe visit for a long time.

Restaurants are much different to restaurants in Australia. They seem to be more aligned to the U.S. There is a sameness to them. The bistro in the street corner was so common in Paris. The food on offer seemed similar from bistro to bistro.

We found the same in the U.S. where burgers and salads were on offer everywhere. In Australia, there is such a variety of cuisines from all over the world that there is hardly any single dominant type of food anymore.

But having said all that, tradition is tradition and people know what they like.

End reflections…

A few more pics from Bayonne before I left. A lovely town.

Finally it was time to leave Bayonne for travel to St Jean Pied de Port. I was no longer by myself.

I spoke to 4 fellow pilgrims on the platform before leaving Bayonne station. All Americans. And older. Then 2 more American pilgrims on the train.

Halfway to St Jean Pied de Port, all passengers had to swap from train to bus. The reason was track maintenance work. On the bus I sat next to a German guy. Who lives in Sweden. As you do. So we spoke Swedish.

The German guy hadn’t reserved a bed for the night so he followed me to my hostel. To cut it short, he found a bed elsewhere and we went out together for a few beers and for my first “menú del peregrino”.

St Jean Pied de Port – we have arrived.

After checking in at Hostel Azkurria, I chilled for a while. Then my new German buddy Holger reappeared.

Holger and I wandered through Saint Jean Pied de Port looking for food and drink. What a lovely place. More exploring tomorrow of course.

Hey this looks familiar.

Of course, this is from where Tom Avery starts his Camino in the movie “The Way”. And of course, this is not how you would walk the Camino at all. You would walk to the right from where I am standing taking this photo.

Here is my new buddy Holger enjoying himself with a cold one:

Holger and I had the first Menu del Peregrino for dinner:

  • Entree was soup which tasted like watered out contents from a can
  • Main was roast chook and pommes frites (fries)
  • Dessert was a Basque style sponge cake which was all right.
  • Bread and 250ml of house wine was also included.

Soon, after 3 beers and a small carafe of wine, I was somewhat tipsy.

At 9pm, it was time to return to the hostel. I forgot to check at what time the hostel would close its door (10.30pm it turned out). I jsut didn’t want to take any chances of not getting back in.

I finish off with a few pictures from Hostel Azkurria. The front.

The lobby of Hostel Azkurria.

Buen Camino. Time to relax. Time to sleep.

Final thoughts: 

The room was too hot over night. 4 people in a small room with closed door and windows does that. No worries about the snoring from others, that was manageable.

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