Tue 15 Sep - Day 1: St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles 25km

25km walked, 760km left to walk after today. 

Let the Camino begin. And didn't it just? 

Day 1 was extremely eventful, a little scary and I did my first good deed in the spirit of the Camino after 2 hours. More on this later in this post. 

Here I am outside the hostel in St Jean Pied de Port. Very keen to start walking. 
Here is my newly found Danish buddy Allan and me. 
I made a final visit to the Pilgrims Office to weigh my bag with snacks and drinks included. 
9.5kg. I certainly did a lot better than many others I spoke to. 12kg seemed common. I thought that mine was heavy enough. 
Let the climb begin. The climb to Orisson is around 600 meters. I had booked a bed there with the view to start slow as the distance is only 8km or so. 

The weather was initially perfect for hiking. Cool, overcast and no wind as I initially walked with Daina. 

And here is me airing out my slightly moist feet. 
The views along the way were unsurprisingly increasingly spectacular. 

As initially mentioned, I never got to stay in that bed I booked at Hostel Orisson.

That was because Allan, the Danish bloke, faded and faded fast. He was coughing and coughing, more and more. Then he had to sit down and rest more and more frequently. It didn't look good. 

Alan had not booked any bed anywhere, not at Orisson, not in Roncesvalles. 

So in the spirit of the Camino, I offered him my bed for the night at the fully booked out Hostel Orisson. While I believed that I would make Roncesvalles in one day, I believed that Allan had zero chance. 

Alan was extremely thankful and after taking a break at Hostel Orisson, I continued my Camino. 

Soon the wind started to pick up. And pick up. More and more. Until it was approaching storm weather. A few spits of rain but nothing serious. 

For obvious reasons, I did not take very many photos. I kept the phone in a zip lock bag and zipped up inside a pocket. 

I spoke to a girl later whose phone literally had blown away (Rhys, Daina's daughter). She had the phone in her pocket, not zipped up, she stumbled and out it fell never to be seen again. 
And there was a Camino horse... He looked half asleep with half closed eyes. 
There were a couple of entrepreneurs along the way selling drinks and snacks to the pilgrims. It wouldn't be visible in the photo but the wind here was frantic. The vendor had found a very secluded spot. 
In summary, people had to be evacuated by vehicles from the Pyrenees as they were literally blown away and had to sit down. 

I heard that one guy also had to be evacuated by helicopter as he had injured himself so bad. 

The following day, the Napoleon Route across the Pyrenees was closed. Hence, letting Allan have that bed in Hostel Orisson became a sort of blessing in disguise. I would not have been able to pass then. 

A few more pics along the way...
Mount Lepoeder, the highest point of the Camino at 1450 meters. From here it was down, down, down to Roncesvalles. Me and my walking companion Fiona took the "slippery" way instead of the recommended safe way. Granted, in wet conditions, which it wasn't, it would have been dangerous. 

Today it was no more difficult than many many declines of Australian bush tracks. 

We arrived in Roncesvalles around 4pm with no visible scars after all that wind. In fact, given the conditions I thought that I had just the right equipment and clothes. A little brrrrreazzzzy as the Scotsman would have said. 

The hostel in Roncesvalles is enormous and in an old monastery. 4 floors and I was lucky enough to get a single bed here on the top floor. The basement was used for latecomers and it looked like a dungeon. Really it did. 

Here are a couple of photos I took the following morning. And this is not the front of it. 

I booked peregrino dinner (10€) and breakfast (3.50€) so with bed it was a total of 25.50€. Not bad at all. 

Menú del peregrino, a cheap but still 3 course dinner, was not served until 8.40pm. Why this odd time? Because mass with pilgrims blessing was on at 8pm. 

I went to the mass and got blessed for the walk to Santiago de Compostela like all the other pilgrims. Despite being not a very religious person, I found the ceremony quite moving. 

After dinner, which was surprisingly good, I went back to the albergue and to my bed. Lock out time is 10pm and 10.05pm the lights went out without warning. 

This is pilgrim life :-)

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