My Camino Begins - the Camino de Santiago Day 0
I woke up this morning thinking "What the hell am I doing?" Feeling a little scared and exhilarated at the same time. Glad I repacked my backpack last night, I know it is probably heavier than it should be, Trying to keep it at 10% of my body weight was a real challenge so at the last moment I decided not to weigh it again and hope for the best.
I took the 7:00 am train from Narbonne, France with 5 connections to reach Saint Jean Pied de Port at 5:00 pm; four trains and a bus. It was misty and cool with beautiful, pastoral scenery whizzing by. However because I was up late last night agonizing over what to take out of my pack, I slept for most of the first part of my journey.
Got to Toulouse and was very confused. There was not a lot of signage and by accident I ended up on the correct platform. I so appreciate my intuition at times like that! Even though I do not speak the language except for a few words of high school French, people were very willing to assist me in finding the right car.
At the train station in Bordeaux St Jean, I had a few minutes to buy a pain chocolat and espresso while I tried to figure out which bay my train to Dax was leaving from. In Vancouver, when the skytrain comes, a digital sign shows you which train it is and you can ride in any car. Here you must find the correct car in addition to the correct platform.
Arriving at the Bordeaux St Jean station at lunch time was perfect! It had lots of food kiosks and the pastries were abundant and extremely good. All the bistro style sandwiches were freshly made on baguettes... no plastic wrapped wonder bread. This is heaven when you are hungry.
A few weeks ago a friend told me that her husband felt eating was a waste of time. I feel that is one place where relationships are strengthened and life is enjoyed. Relaxed conversations over a delicious meal, with a little red wine or an espresso, discussing your day or your hopes and dreams, carves a tiny bit of pleasure in an otherwise hectic day.
I've seen numerous young people with very large backpacks but no one my age. In fact I got a few raised eyebrows when I pulled my bag down from the luggage rack. This changed when I got to Saint Jean Pied do Port. There were people of every age and nationality, every size and every fitness level. Right off I knew this would be fun.
In Saint Jean Pied de Port, there was a lineup out the door to get the pilgrims passport. In fact they limited the number of people entering the room becasue of the body heat that was generated. Already a hot day, it was nice to get outside again after I finished registering.
In the pilgrim's office, we were given a sheet with a list of all the villages and cities along the Camino. Beside each name, it gave the number of km from one place to the next and the number of beds in the village and a contact number. (My plan was to live in the moment and this sheet is what I used to walk the Camino) Many people we surprised when I shared that I did not have a guide book with me.
The woman who registered me told me she had done the Camino four times. I met an American woman in her 60s who was doing it for the second time. I guess it can become a sweet addiction like anything else.
My first job was to find a room. The first one I checked out looked a little iffy so I went further up the street and found a beautiful alberge for 10€ a night including breakfast in a big stone building which guaranteed a good nights sleep because the room was cool. I went downstairs and looked for some of the people I met on the bus.
After exploring the town for a while, I was ready for a good nights sleep. Breakfast was to be on the table at 6:00 am.
If you liked this post, you may enjoy Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncevalles – Day 1 of the Camino