Day one…

Checked in to the Pilgrim’s office in St Jean Pied de Port yesterday and officially became pilgrims. SJPP is a charming little town with a lot of little shops etc and many services for pilgrims. This morning we stopped in a little sandwich shop and bought some provisions for the day – apples, sandwiches, coffee for me. Then we hit the road on foot.

The climb out of SJPP is steep and it does not end. We passed through farms and animals and pilgrims. Lots of pilgrims. It was windy and cold as we gained altitude but made it to Orrison for a break, much needed hot chocolate.

From there the trail just keeps going up. We stopped at many times when tired, or when there was a site to see. One stop at km 11 was the Biakorri Virgin statue, the protectess of the shepherds.

After that we climbed higher yet and stopped at a food truck for a snack and warm drink. We had company as a herd of horses wandered through to say hello. They sort of roam freely throughout the mountains.

We bought some cheese and boiled eggs from the food truck guy. I’m certain that I have never bought boiled eggs from a stranger in a van on the side of the road before. That was a first. And it was so good. The sheep cheese is amazing.

From there we continued up, seemed like forever and then finally saw the sign for 3.6km to Roncesvalles……longest, toughest 3 kms of my life. Tricky footing, slippery sections and the like. But we made it and checked in to the hostel here in Roncesvalles. We were one of the last to get a bed here.

We went to the pilgrims meal at 8:30. The meal consisted of a nice lentil soup with bread, penne with tomato sauce and sausage and a choice between trout and fries or chicken and fries, and served with wine and water. Our dining companions were a lady from Austria, a man from Germany, a fellow from the US, a British gentleman, two women from Honduras and a young lady from Holland. Someone asked if Ally and I were friends… that’s the second time my grey hair was not noticed – a guy in the airport asked if we were sisters ….

Today I wondered about my sanity a lot. This was a tough slog. I also wondered about Ally’s sanity as she came with me out here to do this crazy thing. Hoping for flat roads tomorrow….


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