Today we walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port France to Ronscevalles Spain covering 23km (or 42,208 steps as per Fitbit).A day of slogging it up and across the Pyrenees Mountains.
We felt every step of this day, let me tell you! But before I get into my aching feet and bones and muscles and well, aching everything – let me tell you about our awesome pilgrim hostel in Saint Jean and a bit more about our actual route and the sights!
We started with a wee breakfast at our hostel La Coquille Napoleon in Saint Jean. We were served orange juice, coffee with milk, baguette, yogurt, butter and jam. I have been off all sugar and any carbs for a while so this was like breakfast of candy for me! Yum! Buzzing! Beyond the yummy breakfast the place was great – interesting but great. When we checked in the night prior we were greeted by 3 chihuahuas, a bunch of chickens, a rooster, 2 cats, a 3 year old boy and the proprietor; a very French man who was incredibly disappointed we were not French Canadians.
Regardless of our unfortunate Canadian-ness he showed us our bunks in the coolest little build-on from their home (12 bunks in a room and only 4 of us staying) then he told us how things should be over a welcome glass of wine .. well rather how he says things will go for us as per him! He was hilariously bossy really – had an answer for everything and spoke only sparing English. He told us we were not to set an alarm he would knock at 7am, we had to walk to Roncesvalles or he would ridicule us (which he literally did to the 2 people staying that were stopping in Orisson before Roncesvalles), that it was daft to book ahead at places to stay, to never eat where you sleep it will ruin your sleep, and no more wifi after last night, etc. We found him quite funny and the place was amazing – if you could get past the cat that was eating on the table next to the chain saw also on the table or his kid trying to hit me with his toys while yelling at me like maybe a dinosaur?! Great place, comfy bed and an awesome story! Recommend!
At 8am we literally walked out his front door and we were on the Route de Napoleon – the road / trail we would be slogging on for the day. We were fresh and excited to get our Camino on!
The route quickly put us in our place! We went from less than 200m altitude to 1,550m and then back down to 950m in a long 8.5 hours. While honestly quite tough we were still so amazed at the view as we climbed higher! Check out my Instagram @brandedavison for some videos!
I was so grateful for two things – beyond the views and the amazing opportunity to be here. 1) the guide book was so bang on with the information on if the route was a road or a trail. I wore my sneakers for the first 5 hours and felt so light and nimble. Then the trail switched to off road and I switched for my boots. My feet were super comfy with the switch and moving my boots to my feet made my pack 3.6lbs lighter at the same time. Just when I needed it!
The day finished with a wretched downhill of 3.6km that was not fun at all – my feet had a pulse, my legs kept giving out but we hung in there and with maybe not smiles but at least pride waltzed into Roncesvalles dusty, sweaty and keen for showers.
We are now out for a congrats pint and then to dinner provided by our Albergue (pilgrim hostel)! It’s a super old monestary that has been refurbished as a hostel. Wow!