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It's me... a nervous first time pilgrim


So, it's only 13 days to go... :)
I'll start in SJPDP. I made a reservation in SJPDp, but i have limited time to walk Camino (29 days). So, i was thinking. I'll fly to Biarritz (15.15 cca), and a should be in SJPDP aroun 18.30.
Do you think it would be a good idea to walk to Hunto? What is a chance to get lost on way to Hunto? (i walk on my own so i really dont want to get lost on my first day).

It's time for final preparations. I'm packing my things for Camino. I'm trying to go for a long walk (2 -3 hours) every day with backpack (7 kg).
What is important in this days? What i should not forget?

What is a chance to meet a bull on the Way? :oops: :roll:
It's the name "Saint Jean Pied de Port" in French? So, if i'll ask in Bayonne train station for SJPDP... they'll give me a right ticket?

Thanks for answers!

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Nunca se camina solo
Hi Ajda

We all know those last minute questions. My own preference would be to spend the night in St Jean, sleep well and set off early after a good breakfast.

In any event you won't get lost - the route is well marked.

You won't meet any bulls.

You've done fantastically well keeping the weight down to 7kgs and you will get the benefit of that when you are walking every day. Start steadily, don't overstretch, build stamina and gradually you will walk longer distances more easily.

If you forget anything which is essential you can buy it on the route.


Buen Camino


Active Member
Good Luck and Buen Camino!

Don't worry so much once you're on the way there'll be lots of helpful people to talk to!

Not sure about Hunto/Orrisson after 18.30, I'd be tempted to do it earlier in the day or take some time to look around Saint Jean but others may have different advice.

Don't panic about forgetting things the less things you're carrying the better...

Virtually no chance of meeeting a bull I would suspect!! The Frances is very busy with people and most animals with any sense steer well clear. I have very occasionally seen cows on the route but usually pretty docile and often with a farmer nearby...

Saint Jean Pied de Port is French. I suspect they are very used to pilgrims asking for it!

Have fun!! :D


JohnnieWalker said:
You've done fantastically well keeping the weight down to 7kgs and you will get the benefit of that when you are walking every day.

Buen Camino

Well, it's not a backpack for camino which weights 7kg - in this backpack is just a few bottles of water and 1kg salt and 1kg rise :oops: :lol:

Camino backpack (for now) weight 8,5kg, but i think it would weight some more at the end.

Thanks for advise JW and Elzi.


New Member
Hi Ajda,
Prepare as much as you can, and then leave the rest to take care of itself. I did the Camino alone in May/June and everything was fine. As it happened, I teamed up with someone I met on the train from Bayonne to St. Jean Pied-de-Port, and we met a third person, and we all kept in touch the whole way (and even now that we're back).

I had no problem getting to the train station in Bayonne, or buying my ticket. I think they'll see you with your backpack and know exactly where you're going, no matter how you pronounce Saint Jean.

One small thing... don't forget to "compostez" (hole-punch) your ticket before you get on the train -- there's a special machine for doing that when you enter the train platform.

Given you will arrive in SJPdP in the evening, you may want to head straight to the Pilgrim Office to find lodging. You won't be the last to arrive... there's a later train than yours. If your dinner happens to be included with your lodging, you won't want to miss it since you'll need your strength to get a good start the next day.

Regarding the backpack weight... I found it useful to do a trial walk with exactly the things I was planning to take with me, packed as I was planning to pack them (e.g., in all their various pockets). To my surprise, my pack weighed more than I wanted. So I took a good hard look at everything and pulled some things out. Be ruthless! If you don't absolutely need it, leave it behind. I didn't take a nightie or pyjamas -- I just slept in panties and a t-shirt that I could also wear to walk.

Before I went, I was concerned about animals (mostly dogs) but had no problems.

Buen Camino!
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Veteran Member
Hello Ajda,
I can really identify with your pre-camino jitters. Everyone gets them.
I completed my Camino in 28 days without rushing, but to do that, I had to average 28 kms per day. No need to cover that much on the first few days while you are getting used to the routine, but by the end of the first week, you should have your rhythm and be able to go to the next village even though you feel like stopping. I found the Meseta, the high flat plain between Burgos and Leon, a powerful experience, and a great place to rack up the distance each day. But it never was a rush or race for me. Long days on the meseta may not be practical for you since you will be walking in the heat of summer.

Most of all, make the Camino your own, as it is for every pilgrim. Every experience is unique. Don't feel compelled to do something, just because someone else is. There is no award for heroic suffering.

Enjoy the journey.
David, Victoria, Canada


Active Member

curiously enough I did meet a bull in a small farming hamlet west of O Cebreiro but he was completely peaceful and had obviously seen too many pilgrims to get excited by them.



Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Good luck! I am sure things will turn out well for you. The train to SJPDP is pretty easy, as others have pointed out. I arrived about 6:30 pm and stayed in SJPDP that night.

The pilgrim centre can be busy and it might take 15 minutes or so to get the credencial and find a place to stay. Personally, I would not walk to Hunto that night. Relax, get your gear set up and settle into the camino routine. No point stressing.

My pack was less than 7.5kg. The key thing is to be ruthless - and also to cast aside vanity. By vanity I mean that a man does not NEED to shave, so don't take shaving gear. Ladies don't NEED facial cosmetics, so leave them at home. I normally have very short hair, so I did not need a hairbrush. Men may want to consider a "Number 3" haircut like mine and leave all the hair grooming stuff at home.

It is certainly good to do at least one training walk of say 20km with the actual stuff you will be carrying, including water and food. I did a couple of these and weeded out items each time.

On training walks, unless you are an experienced walker and know your body and its capabilities, try to do one walk of the distance you plan to cover in one day, say 30km. In my case, the optimum for me on the Camino turned out to be 25 - 30 km/day, with one day of 42km. One has to pace oneself for the 30-day journey and certainly not try to keep up with companions who may have a faster pace.

The thing is that a heavy pack might seem OK at home, or after one training walk. But it is different thing to carry that pack for 30 days over all kinds of terrain. The aim is to maximise your chances of completing the camino without injury.

Re animals, I never had a problem. You see quite a few dogs with sheep, but they were OK for me.

I hope this is useful.

Bob M


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Dear NFTP (nervous first time pilgrim)
There will be lots of other pilgrims at the airport or station. I joined up with 4 others and we shared the cost of a taxi to SJPP- so it was cheap and quick. The train journey is lovely but gets you to SJPP a bit later. All you need to do with a backpack on is begin to say "St Je.... "and everybody knows where you want to go! From the sound of it you will have no problem with the 1st days walking so enjoy and experience St Jean Pied de Port as its a great place to get into Pilgrim mode. Walk up to the Porte Sainte Jacques at the top of the town and you might see some pilgrims passing though it who are all buzzed up as this is their halfway point on from Le Puy ,Veselay or even further afield! Take time to settle into the atmosphere. Walk down the cobbled streets maybe go into Notre Dame du Bout de Pont and light a candle or just give time to yourself. You will be passing under Porte Notre Dame when you leave the next morning and, if you take time to look back, you will see a seated virgin and child hands raised in benediction for all who pass below. If you are not walking out before 6.45am you will be in time to catch an excellent bakers shop open on the Rue D'Espagne (its on the RHS but just follow your nose) where you can buy a treat for yourself to enjoy en route. Your fitness is high so you can easily make up ground on the flatter terrain and less visually engaging stretches later (between Leon and Astroga for example) on and by then you will be in full pilgrim mode, fitter and more attuned to you body and how far you can push it. I am 50, 'Rubenesque' and have high blood pressure and did my camino in 33 walking days so you will be fine. The French say the way do the Camino is 'doucement doucement' and they are right. Savour the journey. Buen Camino


Thank you all for answers.

Every day i?m more ruthless. But still, my backpack weight 8,5 kg (without water and food).

I walked a lot in last few days (with backpack 10kg). I hope it would help on Camino.

I really just cant't wait to get to SJPDP and my Camino starts.

Thanks for all your help. You are priceless.
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Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Good luck :)

It is understandable that we focus on our pack and other practical thiings on our first camino. I was exactly the same.

But it is important that we also focus on mental and spiritual aspects of our journey. Nellpilgrim touched on some of these things in her mesage when urging you not to rush on and stress on day 1.

It takes time to get fully into this phase. For me it was about a week before my daily routines were established and my body had adjusted to the physical demands of the camino. Once we are comfortable with practical matters, we are able to pay attention to higher needs of the heart and spirit.

I also found it better to walk alone, because companions distracted me from attuning to my surroundings properly. Others welcome companionship on the road. The important thing is to find out what makes you most comfortable.

Remember also that you will be walking in the footsteps of countless pilgrims down the ages. Every one of them has their story, just as you will have your story when your journey is over.

If all goes well, your journey will not be over when you reach the end of the trail, wherever that may be. It will be a new beginning for you, and an experience you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Somewhere in my long post last year there is a quote from "A Journey to Portugal" by Jose Saramago, that beautifully sums up how I feel:

"The end of one journey is simply the start of another. You have to see what you missed the first time, see again what you already saw, see in springtime what you saw in summer, in daylight what you saw at night, see the sun shining where you saw the rain falling, see crops growing, the fruit ripen, the stone which has moved, the shadow that was not there before. You have to go back to the footsteps already taken, to go over them again or add fresh ones alongside them. You have to start the journey anew. Always".

Bob M

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