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My first time - ALONE

rksharp22

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning to walk end of May 2019 until the end of June 2019
Hey all! So I am planning my trip to walk the entire Camino Frances at the end of May 2019. I graduate from college and am looking for the "break" between undergrad and law school.

I am traveling from Toronto, ON at 4:45pm and flying overnight to Toulouse, FRA, arriving at 9:05am. From there I am looking to take the 10:45am train from Toulouse Matabiau and arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port around 4pm.

My question is, once I am in St. Jean, what is my next step. I will be ordering my Camino passport ahead of time, so I have that covered. Should I settle in at a hostel and grab something to eat and prepare for my trek at 5am the next morning? When do most hostels in the area open their doors?

Sorry for all the questions... I am doing this alone and just want to be prepared as possible! Thanks :)
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
When you arrive in SJPdP go to the Pilgrim Office at 39 rue de La Citadelle which is on the camino. In season they stay open until 23:00. From there you can pick up weather info and current trail maps as well as a Credential if needed.

The helpful volunteers at the office will try to find you a bunk or room if you do not have a reservation. It is a great place to meet/greet
fellow pilgrims; don't miss it.

Happy planning and Buen camino!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I would reserve a place at an albergue in SJPP for the first night, ideally one that will provide a communal supper for the pilgrims. I'm sure people here can recommend some favourites. You will also want to make your way to the Pilgrims Office when you arrive, as Tincatinker and mspath suggest, to get the first stamp for your credencial. Maybe do that even before settling in at the albergue. Then set out the next morning on your camino. Perhaps you will walk with some people you meet at the albergue.

One thing to consider is how far you want to walk on the first day. Typically, people either walk to Orisson or Roncesvalles. For those who walk to Roncesvalles, I've heard that many consider it the most challenging day of the Camino. (I can't say; Roncesvalles is where I have started.) If you stop at Orisson, you can break up that really challenging walk in two, with a short 8 km first day to get you going. If you are only going to Orisson, you won't necessarily need to leave so early. But you will need to book Orisson in advance.

If you live in the Toronto area, you may want to join the Toronto Camino Pilgrims Facebook group (if you are on Facebook). You can also go to their Spring meeting before you leave, where you can get in person backpack demos and a lot of in person advice from people who have walked the Camino. Of course, this is also a good place to get advice. The search is your friend for any questions you may have. Chances are, they've been asked before.

A final note: you may start alone, but the odds are you won't remain that way unless you wish to.
 
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Shazenalan

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2018
When I walked StJPDP to Fromista last year (2nd half this year 😊) I was amazed and delighted at the number of women of all ages walking alone. Definately have your first night booked, and book Roncesvalle if going there on Day 1, they do run out of beds and its not the best time to encounter that challenge. In St JPDP you will meet many others anticipating their own Camino, and connecting with each other is among the most fulfilling aspects of the whole thing. Buen Camino.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Hey all! So I am planning my trip to walk the entire Camino Frances at the end of May 2019. I graduate from college and am looking for the "break" between undergrad and law school.

I am traveling from Toronto, ON at 4:45pm and flying overnight to Toulouse, FRA, arriving at 9:05am. From there I am looking to take the 10:45am train from Toulouse Matabiau and arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port around 4pm.

My question is, once I am in St. Jean, what is my next step. I will be ordering my Camino passport ahead of time, so I have that covered. Should I settle in at a hostel and grab something to eat and prepare for my trek at 5am the next morning? When do most hostels in the area open their doors?

Sorry for all the questions... I am doing this alone and just want to be prepared as possible! Thanks :)

Hi, rksharp, and a warm welcome to the Forum. :)

Do not feel hesitant to ask questions, we are happy to help. One thing I might suggest that will help facilitate your planning is the use of the Forum's Search Engine feature, which is located at the top and right side of the page. A search for a particular word or phrase will give you a ton of information to explore.

Another resource which might help is Booking.com. Many have used it to seek out available accommodations in order to choose a suitable place to stay and to make the necessary reservations. It is NOT the end all-be all resource, but if you wish to book ahead along your Camino, then it can be very helpful.

Even if you were to walk to Roncesvalles from SJPdP as your first day on Camino, 5 AM is pretty early. Unless you are an extremely slow walker who is very out of shape, departing by 7 or 7:30 am is plenty of time even with breaks along the way.

If the alburgue in Roncesvalles is where you plan on staying for a night, I would recommend making a reservation ahead. Although there is a good chance that you can secure a bed when showing up to check in, I have also seen pilgrims directed to the next town because the alburgue was completo. You can access the reservation site here:
http://www.alberguederoncesvalles.com/01_reservaonline_formulario.php
http://www.alberguederoncesvalles.com/contenidos.php?idG=1

If you decide that you want to split the walk to Roncesvalles into two days, there are two basic methods:

1. Stop at Orrison. The downside is that unless you leave in the mid-afternoon, you will arrive at Orrison with a lot of the day ahead of you. The upside to Orrison is that you can spent a lot of your day in St jean for sightseeing, and have plenty of time to walk to Orrison. For Orrison, a reservation is necessary as it is a popular stay-over. Some find a special ambiance and bonding time with other guest-pilgrims during the stay there, but that is dependent on the individual :)

2. Walk from St Jean to the Pic D'Orrison Statue of The Virgin Mary in the Pyrenees, which is on the way to Roncesvalles, and then return to St Jean Pied de Port via shuttle or taxi the night. It is roughly half-way (12 km) to this point of the Napoleon Route. The next morning, take the taxi or shuttle BACK to the Virgin Statue, and continue your walk to Roncesvalles or beyond.

Option number two can mean that you can make a two night reservation in St. Jean, leave the bulk of your pack's contents in your room and only take a day-pack for the first day's walk, and then return to that same room for your second evening. Given that St Jean, as a town, has far more flexibility and options for dining and evening socializing then at Orisson, some may prefer this option.

Of course, the day-pack option is available for every stage of Camino if you hire someone to transport your main pack ahead to your next lodging location. That is not an option I would use, but others have.

Enjoy this time of planning and anticipation of your journey, rksharp.... this is a special time and part of your overall journey and experience. :)

If you do stay at Roncesvalles, my suggestion is to purchase the evening meal ticket along with the bed. Skip the breakfast offering, though, and when you leave the next morning have breakfast when you arrive in Burguete which is about a 4 or 5 km walk.

Also, if inclined, the evening Mass in Roncesvalles is well worth attending, and as it involves a special Pilgrim Blessing, can be a meaningful experience.
 
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Gracy101

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
September 2019
Hi Dave:

You wrote "2. Walk from St Jean to the Pic D'Orrison Statue of The Virgin Mary in the Pyrenees, which is on the way to Roncesvalles, and then return to St Jean Pied de Port via shuttle or taxi the night. It is roughly half-way (12 km) to this point of the Napoleon Route. The next morning, take the taxi or shuttle BACK to the Virgin Statue, and continue your walk to Roncesvalles or beyond."

If I may ask - how does this work? I didn't realize that was an option. how so you locate a shuttle or taxi? I'll begin the Camino at SJPP myself September of this year and am frankly feeling somewhat intimidated with the SJPP >Roncesvalles stretch.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Hi Dave:

You wrote "2. Walk from St Jean to the Pic D'Orrison Statue of The Virgin Mary in the Pyrenees, which is on the way to Roncesvalles, and then return to St Jean Pied de Port via shuttle or taxi the night. It is roughly half-way (12 km) to this point of the Napoleon Route. The next morning, take the taxi or shuttle BACK to the Virgin Statue, and continue your walk to Roncesvalles or beyond."

If I may ask - how does this work? I didn't realize that was an option. how so you locate a shuttle or taxi? I'll begin the Camino at SJPP myself September of this year and am frankly feeling somewhat intimidated with the SJPP >Roncesvalles stretch.

There are taxis in SJPdP which travel the Napoleon Route up to the high point (Col Loepeder) prior to the descent into Roncesvalles. The Virgin is along that route, which is a narrow and mostly paved farm road. With a taxi, you can either arrange a time to be picked back up at the Virgin, or use a cell phone to call for your taxi.

Express Bouricott operates a shuttle service which is very reliable and convenient. They provide transport to and from various locations on Route Napoleon, including Orrison and the Virgin. It looks like the cost to return from the Virgin is about 7 Euro. Reservations are needed and are easily arranged. Here is their link:
https://www.expressbourricot.com/persons-transport/

The nice thing about this walking option is that, even though the walk to Orrison is the steepest grade and then moderates as you continue the walk to the Virgin, you can take a lot of time doing so. You can start later in the morning and easily reach the Virgen, stopping at Orrison for an extended food and fluid break, enjoying the views with long pauses, taking a lot of snack breaks, and just generally lollygagging.

AT the Virgen, you will have tourist and other pilgrims in the area, and it will be a great place to spend time with your thoughts or talking with others -- there is a lot of area to view the vistas off by yourself should you prefer. When you taxi or the shuttle arrives, you will have a grand view of the drive back.

The next morning, hop the shuttle or taxi and drive all the way to the Virgin, then continue your walk to Roncesvalles. You will have a less arduous walk this second day, although you will want to consider which route to take with the steepish descent to Roncesvalle once you reach that point.

I made a video of the entire walk from SJPdP to Roncesvalles which John Sikora added to his series. It is about 35 - 40 minutes, with the entire 9+ hours of walking in hyperlapse time.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola @rksharp22 . Again welcome to the Forum. This is without doubt the wikipedia of Camino travel, @davebugg has covered just about every option out of St Jean - except what to do if there is late season snow/heavy rain on the Napoleon route. If this happens - don't fret the alternative route via Valcarlos is just as interesting and if you do it as a two day walk the second day is just as challenging (imho).
About the only other piece of advise I would offer - don't stress too much, you will come armed with significantly more knowledge than pilgrims of the 10th, 11th or 12th century. Oh and give yourself time to adjust - use the 4 or 5 days from St Jean to Pamplona to adjust to the Camino life of a pilgrim.
Do as Dave suggest - do a bit of reading, searching and then come back with all the questions that are filling your mind at 2.00 am. We will be here to offer more help that you will think possible. So Happy New Year and Buen Camino.;)
 
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Felipe

Veteran Member
Uh...a bit of unsolicited advice. I lived in Tolouse, and at at first sight your time transportation from Blagnac airport to Matabiau train station looks doable, but a bit tight to me, especially if you go through migration (I suppose that, because there are airports closer to SJPP). Have you solved your transportation in Toulouse?
The "navette" (a bus service) from terminal to terminal runs every 20 minutes, and spends (depending on the traffic) between 20 and 45 minutes. A taxi will be faster -more or less 25 euros.
 
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c0484

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
Hey all! So I am planning my trip to walk the entire Camino Frances at the end of May 2019. I graduate from college and am looking for the "break" between undergrad and law school.

I am traveling from Toronto, ON at 4:45pm and flying overnight to Toulouse, FRA, arriving at 9:05am. From there I am looking to take the 10:45am train from Toulouse Matabiau and arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port around 4pm.

My question is, once I am in St. Jean, what is my next step. I will be ordering my Camino passport ahead of time, so I have that covered. Should I settle in at a hostel and grab something to eat and prepare for my trek at 5am the next morning? When do most hostels in the area open their doors?

Sorry for all the questions... I am doing this alone and just want to be prepared as possible! Thanks :)
I would stay at one of the many albergues in St. Jean. One good reason for that is by spending the night, you can link up with people to walk with the next day. It is a good practice every night. I recommend that you always link up with groups from an albergue to start each day.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
St Jean to Santiago (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019)
Via Francigena (2018); Via Podiensis (4-6, 2020)
All great suggestions! If you wish to cross the Pyrenees via the higher loop (Napoleon) in one go and sleep in Roncesvalles, may I recommend that you book a bed at the monastery or a room at an inn? That way, you won't have to start walking at 5 am. With a reservation, you could leisurely leave about 8 am and pick up some fresh bread and cheese for lunch in the mountains. By the way, you seem very well organized and prepared (as a pre-law student would be, speaking as a retired lawyer, ehem). You will do well!
 

Glenshiro

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy - León, Camino Frances (2012 - 2019)
Uh...a bit of unsolicited advice.
I was thinking this, too, having travelled from Toulouse airport to Matabiau railway station several times.

You will be arriving, I take it, on the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, which will be a 186-seater Airbus 120. You will have cleared immigration in Frankfurt and, as you will still be in the Schengen area, will not need to do so again at Toulouse, so passage through the airport will be relatively swift.

There is a regular shuttle bus, as Felipe says (look for one with "Gare SNCF" displayed at Gate C", arrivals level, fare 8€, pay the driver, correct change appreciated) which will take you Matabiau. (End of the line, you can't miss it, takes about 20 - 25 minutes.)

However, your train to Bayonne leaves at 10:36 - I wouldn't bet on making it! Especially when you factor in possible lateness of flight, walking through the airport to baggage reclaim, waiting for your luggage, walking to the bus (or taxi, they're at the same place) driving through rush-hour traffic, and buying a ticket at the railway station.

I suggest taking the 14:33 train, arriving Bayonne 18:05, then the 18:30 train to SJPdP, arriving 18:36. (Book your first night's accommodation, at least.) This will give you time for a leisurely lunch in Toulouse (plenty of cheap restaurants near the station) and a bit of time to get over your jet lag. Remember - il faut aller doucement!

Good luck, and have a great time.
 

LaFlorida

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF May-June 2018
In May of 2018, at SJPdP, I stayed at Beilari, which is a welcoming, peaceful albergue with a great vegetarian communal dinner. It's in the old town right across the street from the pilgrim's office. Follow the signs to the Citadel inside the old stone walls to get to the Rue de la Citadelle. Try to make time to go all the way up the hill into the Citadel itself, which is well worth a little climb. Making a reservation at Orisson is a great way to avoid worrying about having enough time to get to Roncesvalles. You can explore the lovely town of SJPdP in the morning and still have time to get to Orisson before dinner. I was really glad I made that reservation, because I had to make an unplanned trip to the dentist in the morning. I met people at Beilari and Orrison who remained friends throughout my whole 5 weeks on the Camino.
 
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D

Deleted member 59555

Guest
Hey all! So I am planning my trip to walk the entire Camino Frances at the end of May 2019. I graduate from college and am looking for the "break" between undergrad and law school.

I am traveling from Toronto, ON at 4:45pm and flying overnight to Toulouse, FRA, arriving at 9:05am. From there I am looking to take the 10:45am train from Toulouse Matabiau and arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port around 4pm.

My question is, once I am in St. Jean, what is my next step. I will be ordering my Camino passport ahead of time, so I have that covered. Should I settle in at a hostel and grab something to eat and prepare for my trek at 5am the next morning? When do most hostels in the area open their doors?

Sorry for all the questions... I am doing this alone and just want to be prepared as possible! Thanks :)
sorry to burst your bubble. But your never alone on the camino.
I will leave the common sense answers to every one else :);):).
 

DevereUx

Devereaux
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sept-Oct 2018
I echo other's advice and add: 1. Go short your first few days to get used to the constant walking; 2. Stay in Orisson...its such a fun experience; and three be sure you have reservations (waaayy in advance) at Orisson and Roncesvalles! They are both a bit of work to secure, but necessary. You will love the journey.
Oh...one final advice: take good care of your feet. This forum is a wealth of knowledge and advice on footwear...do your homework on footwear!
Buen Camino!!
 

kdespot

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés SJPP-SdC Sept-Oct 2016
I second LaFlorida's advice to stay at Beilari, as many of us do. It's a lovely start to the Camino. And the idea of staying in Orisson is a good one, too. However, if you're in good shape and well-rested, you might find that stint from St Jean to be too short. I would have been chomping at the bit to have stopped so soon, but many folks prefer it.
 

Charles Zammit

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
Via Francigena 2019
Dave , thank you for sharing this marvelous clip , it brought a smile to my face ,a tear to my eye and nostalgia to my heart .:)
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
Should I settle in at a hostel and grab something to eat and prepare for my trek at 5am the next morning? When do most hostels in the area open their doors?

Not sure on Canadian education process. But my guess is you are about 20 years old and most probably reasonably fit.

If you are an experienced long distance walker for a week or more at a time then no worries.

But if not .. I make these suggestions for your consideration:

1 training mind and body - work up to:
1.1 a trip of 15 km (10 miles) before stopping for breakfast
1.2 a trip with 700 metres elevation gain before stopping ...
1.3 as many multi-day trips of at least 15 km each
1.4 and always with your pack fully laden
Yes, I know it is winter for you at present and you have exams coming up and that most probably the only way to get elevation gain anywhere near where you live is in the stairwells of the TDC or similar buildings.

2 clothing
2.1 merino tops are preferred - wear 1 ss - pack 1 ss and 1 ls
2.2 shorts (to the knee for sun shade)
- suggest 2.3 and 2.4 in a larger than normal size for you
2.3 sox - consider wearing two pair at once -
- another two pair in the pack
2.4 shoes with a big toe box - some suggest sandals
2.5 stuff that dries quickly - so no cotton

3 equipment
3.1 pack of at least 30 litre capacity with side pockets
- and suggest to weigh less than 1 kg
3.2 sleeping bag
- do you sleep cold or hot? a (silk) bag liner may be all you need
- many/most hostels have blankets - some experience bed bugs!!
3.3 Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System
- a tube and connectors - your provide the bottle
- goes in a side pocket of your pack - tube rests over shoulder
- set up and test it out while still at home
- get a 1.5 litre bottle of your favourite in Toulouse

3,4 walking poles - consider strongly
- collasipble so they fit in your pack
- will need to check your pack in
3.5 smart phone with camera
- may need to add a data card to store photos

- voice via Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp ... (= internet data)
- set up and test it out while still at home
- SIM card from Vodafone or Orange in Toulouse
- will work in (most of) EU
- focus on data - no minutes - see above
- others can advise on Gbytes for 30 days
- or just rely on free WiFi in hostels
- or just forget keeping in touch for a month

4 personal
4.1 make-up - your smile will be more important
- says a male of the species!
4.2 other stuff you can get at the many Farmacia on the way
- of the few I have entered, English was well spoken

Forgive my presumptions above. I am conscious you may have sorted everything out. My experiences suggest many are not well prepared as they start from Saint-Jean. I often wonder how many of the 200-300 who started from Saint-Jean with me on 2 May 2016 fell by the way side through lack of preparation of body, mind, clothing, equipment ...

My suggestions above is what I have found, over seven years, works for me. Others will have a different sets of stuff that works for them. And you will find what works for you.

Courage with your studies.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Making a reservation at Orisson is a great way to avoid worrying about having enough time to get to Roncesvalles. You can explore the lovely town of SJPdP in the morning and still have time to get to Orisson before dinner.
Yes. If you have reservations at Orisson don't start your walk at the crack of dawn with those who are walking over the mountains to Roncesvalles. If you do, you'll arrive at Orisson well before lunch time, and have nothing to do. Spend the morning relaxing in St Jean - have a leisurely breakfast, poke around in the shops, then get on the trail around 11:00.
 

Northern Laurie

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Northern Way (2017)
Time difference from Toronto isn’t too significant, but you might still feel a bit of jet lag. I am a lazy bones so any excuse to do a short day works for me.

The better shape you are in and the shorter days you walk, the more your body will forgive cheaper equipment. I met up with one woman likely a little younger than you wearing shoes that kind of looked like converse knock offs and a broken down bike courier backpack, with jean cutoffs and cotton T-shirt’s. it’s what she had and if she’d saved up for better gear, she’d have been waiting a while indeed. She just adapted her pilgrimage to suit. That being said, spend the most money of good footwear followed by a good backpack, followed by clothing that dries quickly. I found it nice to pack a light blouse thing so I could wear something prettt once in a while.

Some people start out walking too aggressively-fast pace and long days. If this is you, it’s ok, just be kind to yourself when you realize you want to slow down.

If you have time to read for fun, find a book about at least one place you wil walk through or that is set in a place you will walk through (history or fiction as you like) and one book about pilgrimage - not the pragmatic what to carry stuff, but either people telling their story or guides to be on pilgrimage. And if you don’t have time, come check in here once in a while :). These people are awesome and can be there for you before during and afte
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2017), Primitivo (2019)
Hey all! So I am planning my trip to walk the entire Camino Frances at the end of May 2019. I graduate from college and am looking for the "break" between undergrad and law school.

I am traveling from Toronto, ON at 4:45pm and flying overnight to Toulouse, FRA, arriving at 9:05am. From there I am looking to take the 10:45am train from Toulouse Matabiau and arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port around 4pm.

My question is, once I am in St. Jean, what is my next step. I will be ordering my Camino passport ahead of time, so I have that covered. Should I settle in at a hostel and grab something to eat and prepare for my trek at 5am the next morning? When do most hostels in the area open their doors?

Sorry for all the questions... I am doing this alone and just want to be prepared as possible! Thanks :)
Don’t for get to check into the Camino office, for any updates, full albergues list, and a free shell... and some good advice!
 

Wandalina

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Portuguese in September '18
Primitivo in September '19
I spent so much time planning and prempting what would happen on my first Camino... Mainly because I was doing it alone. It's natural but honestly now I look back on this and find it funny. Everything will fall into place. Everything that seemed daunting before turned out to be simple. Everything is set up for pilgrims and I found the whole process so seamless.

The joy is letting yourself go..Feeling free of stress and worry. Mindfulness in action. It's extremely liberating you will love it
 
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Matthew Merten

What yellow arrow?
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2018)
Frances (2021)
Hey all! So I am planning my trip to walk the entire Camino Frances at the end of May 2019. I graduate from college and am looking for the "break" between undergrad and law school.

I am traveling from Toronto, ON at 4:45pm and flying overnight to Toulouse, FRA, arriving at 9:05am. From there I am looking to take the 10:45am train from Toulouse Matabiau and arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port around 4pm.

My question is, once I am in St. Jean, what is my next step. I will be ordering my Camino passport ahead of time, so I have that covered. Should I settle in at a hostel and grab something to eat and prepare for my trek at 5am the next morning? When do most hostels in the area open their doors?

Sorry for all the questions... I am doing this alone and just want to be prepared as possible! Thanks :)


RKSharp,

I would heartily recommend spending the night in St. Jean.

This year I did the plane trip from Chicago, IL, to Paris, then a train from Paris to Bayonne, France, all in one 24 hour period. The French train was delayed for two hours when it broke down and we had to wait in a tunnel for a new train to show up. Arriving late in the evening, I spent the night in Bayonne, but couldn't sleep. Then next morning I took a bus (which was supposed to be a train; however, French trains aren't as reliable as Spanish trains, so the train folks put us on a 3 hour bus ride), arriving at St. Jean about 11 am.

I joined a group of peregrinos and we set out right from the St. Jean bus station all the way to Roncesvalles. It was a bad choice. I was so sleep deprived that I couldn't think straight. (This from someone who switches from human to vampire to human to vampire every week as part of his job). I struggled getting more than 4 hours of sleep for the next week, even with trazadone.

When I go back in 2021, I plan on staying the night in St. Jean before setting out the next morning. I highly recommend it, St. Jean has some very good food and lodging.

- Matthew
 

Mazzy

Insufferable pedant
Year of past OR future Camino
(2019) May 12 Camino Frances
There are taxis in SJPdP which travel the Napoleon Route up to the high point (Col Loepeder) prior to the descent into Roncesvalles. The Virgin is along that route, which is a narrow and mostly paved farm road. With a taxi, you can either arrange a time to be picked back up at the Virgin, or use a cell phone to call for your taxi.

Express Bouricott operates a shuttle service which is very reliable and convenient. They provide transport to and from various locations on Route Napoleon, including Orrison and the Virgin. It looks like the cost to return from the Virgin is about 7 Euro. Reservations are needed and are easily arranged. Here is their link:
https://www.expressbourricot.com/persons-transport/

The nice thing about this walking option is that, even though the walk to Orrison is the steepest grade and then moderates as you continue the walk to the Virgin, you can take a lot of time doing so. You can start later in the morning and easily reach the Virgen, stopping at Orrison for an extended food and fluid break, enjoying the views with long pauses, taking a lot of snack breaks, and just generally lollygagging.

AT the Virgen, you will have tourist and other pilgrims in the area, and it will be a great place to spend time with your thoughts or talking with others -- there is a lot of area to view the vistas off by yourself should you prefer. When you taxi or the shuttle arrives, you will have a grand view of the drive back.

The next morning, hop the shuttle or taxi and drive all the way to the Virgin, then continue your walk to Roncesvalles. You will have a less arduous walk this second day, although you will want to consider which route to take with the steepish descent to Roncesvalle once you reach that point.

I made a video of the entire walk from SJPdP to Roncesvalles which John Sikora added to his series. It is about 35 - 40 minutes, with the entire 9+ hours of walking in hyperlapse time.

I really enjoyed watching this, interspersed with moments thinking "I"m such a klutz! Please don't roll your ankle. Please don't roll your ankle. Please don't roll your ankle!!! There's nowhere to pee for miles just off the track. I can imagine rolling off down a gully like a giant baby with a large container on my back - how embarrassing!" :) The thing about watching this with the jaunty music in the background makes you think - meh - not that hard but I can only imagine feeling exhausted when I've only just left SJPDP and wondering what the hell I've signed up for! I'm walking the Camino Frances in May :)
 

Jess W.

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (May/June 2019)
Everybody else seems to be giving great advice, so I just wanted to pop in to say I'm walking the camino at the same time ish, right as I graduate from college too! Also, funnily enough, I just decided against going to law school, kind of a fun coincidence in reverse there! :)
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
I really enjoyed watching this, interspersed with moments thinking "I"m such a klutz! Please don't roll your ankle. Please don't roll your ankle. Please don't roll your ankle!!! There's nowhere to pee for miles just off the track. I can imagine rolling off down a gully like a giant baby with a large container on my back - how embarrassing!" :) The thing about watching this with the jaunty music in the background makes you think - meh - not that hard but I can only imagine feeling exhausted when I've only just left SJPDP and wondering what the hell I've signed up for! I'm walking the Camino Frances in May :)

Believe me, the route over Napoleon is not generally problematic as far as footing is concerned. The key to hiking over a steeper grade is to walk at a pace which you can maintain for 20 minutes at a time. DO NOT walk as fast as you can based on how rested you feel... that is how hikers crump in a short period of time and injure themselves.

Keep your pace as slow as you need and then at 20 minutes rest and drink and look around for two or three minutes. It is amazing just how rested you will be with muscle recovery in that short period of time; but again, do not start walking a faster pace just because your muscles are feeling a bit rested.

Grazing... constantly grazing!!! Keep fueling your engine as you walk. Trail mixes of nuts and chocolate and raisins is great. Keep a bunch of Snickers bars in your hip belt pocket, and frequently take a bite. Personally, I like eating energy gels with Snickers, and peanut M&Ms with raisins. I am also frequently sipping water from my water hydration reservoir since the mouth piece is right there.

There is no real set time frame for taking a longer break. Usually I will take 5 minutes or so at about 65 minutes. Because I find it takes more energy than the amount of rest given, I do not remove my pack until I get to my long breaks, which are 30 minutes or more.

None of the above is written in stone for me. Things come up which will dictate stopping times and lengths. Do I need to check a potential spot on my foot to see if it really is a hot spot? Did I miscalculate my layering of clothing and need to peel something off and stow it away? A lot of times, if something like this comes up, I will take a longer break so that the NEED to stop becomes a BENEFIT toward resting. I will take off my pack, air off my feet if I feel the need, take advantage of a water supply point to do a quick refill to my reservoir via my quick disconnect, etc.

I always have a daily mileage goal. The purpose of that is NOT to be a hard-nosed mileage collector, but to help give me incentive as I am walking; something to shoot for. If I find that my goal has bitten off more than I care to chew, I will modify my day's expectations. But my mind is a funny thing... sometimes I am physically fine, but my mental outlook becomes inexplicably 'lazy'. Having a mileage goal helps me look past that and evaluate whether or not there might be a real issue of fatigue, or if I can just continue forward.

Your pace is an individual thing. It is one of the things which makes traveling with others problematic sometimes.... trying to keep up with others. Be faithful to your pace and your needs for rest. If you travel with someone with a different pace and rest requirements, agree on where you will meet at the end of the day and allow yourself to go as you need to go.

Keep your goals in mind as you prepare for Camino, do what you can to pre-prepare, and relax. Hundreds of thousand and millions have gone before you, and you can do this, too. :)
 

Peligro

I walk between cafe breaks
Year of past OR future Camino
St. Jean to SdC the slow way (Aug'15, Aug'17, Jan'18, Aug'18, Jan'19, Jul'19) Primitivo (May'20)
I got to St. Jean by bus from Pamplona, did some leisurely shopping, had a delicious Jambon-Beurre Baguette, and walked to Orisson. One of my best days ever on or off the Camino. I still think Orisson had about the best communal dinner I've had so far since we were all new and mostly alone so it was a quick way to make Camino Friends. By Roncesvalles it was like we were old friends. Plus breaking up the climb seemed like a good idea on rookie legs. From the posts above it sounds like you wouldn't go wrong staying in SJPP so as usual there are no wrong choices on the Camino. Every "bad" decision just leads to a different adventure!
 
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Mazzy

Insufferable pedant
Year of past OR future Camino
(2019) May 12 Camino Frances
Believe me, the route over Napoleon is not generally problematic as far as footing is concerned. The key to hiking over a steeper grade is to walk at a pace which you can maintain for 20 minutes at a time. DO NOT walk as fast as you can based on how rested you feel... that is how hikers crump in a short period of time and injure themselves.

Keep your pace as slow as you need and then at 20 minutes rest and drink and look around for two or three minutes. It is amazing just how rested you will be with muscle recovery in that short period of time; but again, do not start walking a faster pace just because your muscles are feeling a bit rested.

Grazing... constantly grazing!!! Keep fueling your engine as you walk. Trail mixes of nuts and chocolate and raisins is great. Keep a bunch of Snickers bars in your hip belt pocket, and frequently take a bite. Personally, I like eating energy gels with Snickers, and peanut M&Ms with raisins. I am also frequently sipping water from my water hydration reservoir since the mouth piece is right there.

There is no real set time frame for taking a longer break. Usually I will take 5 minutes or so at about 65 minutes. Because I find it takes more energy than the amount of rest given, I do not remove my pack until I get to my long breaks, which are 30 minutes or more.

None of the above is written in stone for me. Things come up which will dictate stopping times and lengths. Do I need to check a potential spot on my foot to see if it really is a hot spot? Did I miscalculate my layering of clothing and need to peel something off and stow it away? A lot of times, if something like this comes up, I will take a longer break so that the NEED to stop becomes a BENEFIT toward resting. I will take off my pack, air off my feet if I feel the need, take advantage of a water supply point to do a quick refill to my reservoir via my quick disconnect, etc.

I always have a daily mileage goal. The purpose of that is NOT to be a hard-nosed mileage collector, but to help give me incentive as I am walking; something to shoot for. If I find that my goal has bitten off more than I care to chew, I will modify my day's expectations. But my mind is a funny thing... sometimes I am physically fine, but my mental outlook becomes inexplicably 'lazy'. Having a mileage goal helps me look past that and evaluate whether or not there might be a real issue of fatigue, or if I can just continue forward.

Your pace is an individual thing. It is one of the things which makes traveling with others problematic sometimes.... trying to keep up with others. Be faithful to your pace and your needs for rest. If you travel with someone with a different pace and rest requirements, agree on where you will meet at the end of the day and allow yourself to go as you need to go.

Keep your goals in mind as you prepare for Camino, do what you can to pre-prepare, and relax. Hundreds of thousand and millions have gone before you, and you can do this, too. :)

Thanks for that! Always good to keep a sensible perspective, and the idea of chocolate is exciting as I never eat it at home :) I have a lot of hills around where I live so I will have to get cracking and use them for training rather than walking on the flat so much.
 

Mazzy

Insufferable pedant
Year of past OR future Camino
(2019) May 12 Camino Frances
I got to St. Jean by bus from Pamplona, did some leisurely shopping, had a delicious Jambon-Beurre Baguette, and walked to Orisson. One of my best days ever on or off the Camino. I still think Orisson had about the best communal dinner I've had so far since we were all new and mostly alone so it was a quick way to make Camino Friends. By Roncesvalles it was like we were old friends. Plus breaking up the climb seemed like a good idea on rookie legs. From the posts above it sounds like you wouldn't go wrong staying in SJPP so as usual there are no wrong choices on the Camino. Every "bad" decision just leads to a different adventure!
That's also my plan. Stay in St Jean and then stop in Orisson (I've booked my first night there already). I so appreciate those wise souls who've been there before me and have plenty of great advice. :)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2019)
There are taxis in SJPdP which travel the Napoleon Route up to the high point (Col Loepeder) prior to the descent into Roncesvalles. The Virgin is along that route, which is a narrow and mostly paved farm road. With a taxi, you can either arrange a time to be picked back up at the Virgin, or use a cell phone to call for your taxi.

Express Bouricott operates a shuttle service which is very reliable and convenient. They provide transport to and from various locations on Route Napoleon, including Orrison and the Virgin. It looks like the cost to return from the Virgin is about 7 Euro. Reservations are needed and are easily arranged. Here is their link:
https://www.expressbourricot.com/persons-transport/

The nice thing about this walking option is that, even though the walk to Orrison is the steepest grade and then moderates as you continue the walk to the Virgin, you can take a lot of time doing so. You can start later in the morning and easily reach the Virgen, stopping at Orrison for an extended food and fluid break, enjoying the views with long pauses, taking a lot of snack breaks, and just generally lollygagging.

AT the Virgen, you will have tourist and other pilgrims in the area, and it will be a great place to spend time with your thoughts or talking with others -- there is a lot of area to view the vistas off by yourself should you prefer. When you taxi or the shuttle arrives, you will have a grand view of the drive back.

The next morning, hop the shuttle or taxi and drive all the way to the Virgin, then continue your walk to Roncesvalles. You will have a less arduous walk this second day, although you will want to consider which route to take with the steepish descent to Roncesvalle once you reach that point.

I made a video of the entire walk from SJPdP to Roncesvalles which John Sikora added to his series. It is about 35 - 40 minutes, with the entire 9+ hours of walking in hyperlapse time.

Davebugg -
I loved your video! Thanks!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I make these suggestions for your consideration:

1 training mind and body - work up to:
1.1 a trip of 15 km (10 miles) before stopping for breakfast
1.2 a trip with 700 metres elevation gain before stopping ...

You're kidding surely! :eek:
That would take me 4+ hours.... :oops:
Some days that's a whole days walking for me ;););)
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
You're kidding surely! :eek:
That would take me 4+ hours.... :oops:
Some days that's a whole days walking for me ;););)
When I walked with my son in 2016, we did a number of 15 km days near the beginning. We hadn't trained so it was sort of "on the Camino training". So I can empathize when you say that on some days that's a whole day's walk. Nevertheless, as our Camino progressed we found ourselves walking further and further before breakfast. I think it was from a desire to have more walking done before stopping and taking a break, reducing the number of breaks to arrive earlier before the heat of the day (Jul/Aug). By the time we were halfway through we were walking 12 to 15 km before stopping and I was calling it brunch instead of breakfast.
 
Last edited:

Thomas@Albany

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First Part Oct. 5 2018 (StJ)-Oct. 19 (Boadillo); 2nd Part May 5 (Boadilla) to May 26, 2019.
I walked StJPdP to Roncevalles the first day and it was strenuous, but OK. It's a paved road mostly. And I'm 62. The big thing is, I stayed at a hostel with communal dinner (Beilari) and started recognizing people while walking--also people from the Bourricot van. That helped a lot. We were all alone when we started but started to know each other on day 1, and supported each other. My advice--don't take sandwiches from StPdP for lunch, they'll get soggy. Buy a sandwich at Orisson.
 

mark connolly

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
sept 2016 CF
sept 2017 Lourdes to SJPDP via Piemonte
SJPDP to SDC via CF
2019 CF (God willing)
I am with Felipe and Glenshiro, the arrival time in in Toulouse and the train connection is cutting it a bit too close. I would advise that you would take a day or two, if you can afford it timewise, to start your camino. If you miss this connection, this may interfere with your reservations in SJPDP, Roncesvalles, etc.

May I ask why you chose Toulouse as opposed to Madrid to fly into? Is this a direct flight to Toulouse? Madrid is pretty much equidistant from the start and end of the camino and most/all major airlines flight directly in Madrid.

Because of this, I would heavily advise to fly in/out of Madrid. (This is assuming you have not booked your flight yet.) You can get a bus directly from Madrid Airport to Pamplona and connect to a bus to SJPDP.If you set on Toulouse, then when you arrive in Toulouse, book a hotel for the one night and then proceed.

As Glenshiro quotes:

You will have cleared immigration in Frankfurt and, as you will still be in the Schengen area, will not need to do so again at Toulouse, so passage through the airport will be relatively swift.

For my second camino, I flew into Madrid, spent a couple of days in Madrid and flew to Toulouse. (FYI: Stayed the night in Toulouse, took a train to Lourdes and started my camino) I was in the so called Schengen area and after getting of the plane, I did not have to and you may not have to pass through immigration/customs. But there was a line at security though, they were checking every ones passport. This may have been standard security procedure and it was only about a 10 minute wait.

Good Luck.
Buen Camino.
Bon Chemin

Mark
 
Last edited:

Tony Bobcat

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 2017
Hey all! So I am planning my trip to walk the entire Camino Frances at the end of May 2019. I graduate from college and am looking for the "break" between undergrad and law school.

I am traveling from Toronto, ON at 4:45pm and flying overnight to Toulouse, FRA, arriving at 9:05am. From there I am looking to take the 10:45am train from Toulouse Matabiau and arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port around 4pm.

My question is, once I am in St. Jean, what is my next step. I will be ordering my Camino passport ahead of time, so I have that covered. Should I settle in at a hostel and grab something to eat and prepare for my trek at 5am the next morning? When do most hostels in the area open their doors?

Sorry for all the questions... I am doing this alone and just want to be prepared as possible! Thanks :)
Hello rksharp22
In my opinion you don’t need to start so early, book in at at Orisson for the night, you will meet so many pilgrims that you will never be a lone unless you want.
From there on just take it as it comes, if you mix in you won’t have have any problems. Buen Camino
 
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linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Year of past OR future Camino
CF (17) Sarria - Portomarín
CF (17) SJPdP - SdC
CF (18) SJPdP - Fisterra
CP (19) Porto - Muxia
I am not a fan of booking ahead; however, I do like to book my first 3 nights on the Frances. SJPdP - Beilari, Orisson - Refuge Orisson, and Roncevalles - Albergue de peregrinos de Orreaga. Take your time and ease into the Camino ... shake off the jetlag. The deck at Orisson has a great view especially when accompanied by new friends and a bottle of wine.

In 2017, I walked into Santiago with 6 peregrinos I met the first night in Orisson.

¡Buen camino!:D:cool:
 

michaelpmiller4

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Oct 2018
Yes, relax and enjoy St. Jean. Hostels usually open around 2 or 3pm. Take your time on the hike over the mountains as they are beautiful to behold.

The camino will provide everything else you need.

One other word of advice I received my first day, this is your camino. Walk it your way. Don't be afraid to part ways with people whenever you feel like it. Have a blast. Love and blessings.
 

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