CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
Journey to Knowhere
by Living what's Given
Our journey starts on the Gold Coast in Australia and ends in Muxia Spain. It takes 69 days and travels over 22,000kms, walking 1000kms, and when we put it that way no wonder we were tired!
After an hour or so on the bus from Bayonne, (the train was not operating) we arrived in St Jean Pied De Port, our kick off point for the Camino Frances (Way of St. James).
As we were meeting friends here we had pre-booked an Airbnb apartment for two nights, our thoughts being some time to recuperate from traveling and to do some sight seeing, as we have been told it is a beautiful town to see, and it certainly is.
Tip ~ Book you Airbnb in winter as you will find it significantly cheaper. Additionally if you want to jump straight into the Camino experience with other pilgrims, there are plenty of good Albergues available. We found the pilgrims we met in the first week of the Camino were the main stayers of our Camino family.
So what do four Aussies do when they meet up in a foreign town? We go find our Airbnb, check in then head off to a local restaurant for some much needed local cuisine and wine.
The latter came to be known as one of the best painkillers on the Camino and a great mood booster elixir after a long day on the road.
Over dinner, a few drinks and great catch-up the conversation turned to "stuff." You see for anyone who has either done or is going to do a pilgrimage or long walk, stuff becomes a focal point. The old adage of "whoever dies with the most stuff wins" is turned on its head! The simple fact is you don't want stuff. You have to be a minimisist on steroids!
It really does become an obsession and it started for our little team about 12 months before this day, which is a story for another day.
Yet with all that time, agonising, researching, packing and repacking, here we are still talking about what stuff we have, and what we have left behind. Seriously we are obsessed!
When talking packs big is never better, and out of our little group I had the biggest. Yes I had read the blogs, the articles, the FB posts, the 10% rule and all the rest, but still I had to have what I had.
Yes it was 9kgs but everything was essential ... Well that is until it wasn't, which will become abundantly obvious further down the track or more to the point up a hill.
Tip ~ We found St Jean Pied de Port to be the perfect place to pick up those last minute items. There are plenty of gear shops catering specifically to pilgrims and at a price significantly cheaper than our home country. As a side note, we left buying our hiking poles and some wet weather gear to here and were so glad we did.
See video at end of the blog!
However this post is not about stuff, or Team Keen +1, it's about a little town called St Jean Pied de Port.
A beautiful little French town at the foot of the Pyrenees. That's right those little hills you have to walk over on the FIRST day if you are starting from St Jean Pied de Port.
Which reminds me of a postcard I read "I thought we were going down the Way, how come we always seem to be going up?!"
However I digress again, St Jean Pied de Port is not just the start of a great journey, it is an amazing little town in its own right, and as the old saying goes a "picture is worth a 1000 words," so I will stop talking, and here they are. Enjoy.
Tip ~ Allow yourself at least 1, and best 2 days in St Jean Pied de Port to explore and experience this beautiful town. It is the perfect place to immerse yourself into the Camino spirit if starting here, and a great place for a rest day or two if passing through.
Tip ~ Take time out to experience and feel the energy in the Église Notre-Dame du Bout du Pont.
Tip ~ Another way we found to enter into the spirit and essence of the Camion de Santiago, was to take a walk down Allée d'Eyheraberry along the La Nive de Béhérobie river. Cross the bridge then return along the other side, you will not be disappointed.
Tip ~ Another rewarding walk is along the fortified walls of St Jean Pied de Port giving beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and township.
We spent two nights in St Jean Pied de Port, immersing ourselves in the spirt and energy of the Camino.
In addition to last minute shopping and sightseeing, we purchased our Pilgrims Passport and shell at the pilgrims office, talked with staff about the on coming weather, and made decisions on which track we would be taking through the Pyrenees.
The excitement and apprehension was also building as we all knew a year of planning, training and talking about the Camino de Santiago was about to begin.
They say the first few days are the hardest on the Camino de Santiago, and even though we did everything to make them easier, they were right ...
Every night on the Camino de Santiago we made a summary video to show family, friends and others interested about the good, the bad and the ugly of our trip. It's a summary of how we were Liven what's Given on this amazing and challenging pilgrimage.
Thanks for joining us
Just Liven what's Given
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