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Live - Camino Francés Solo SJPP to Pamplona 5.27 to 5.30

SoloCamino

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria 2016
SJPP 2017
#1
So I really enjoyed reading these posts while I was preparing for my trip. For some reason, I could not motivate myself to do these reports while I was walking so I will do them now. Things to know about me:
I am a lover of Spanish history, which is why I Camino
I am a typical American who can't take a month off work so I am doing this in segments
I am 50 and completed the sarria to Santiago portion last year (became obsession to finish before I turned 50)
I am now starting over at SJPP and left the USA from Seattle on May 26
I am not as fit as I should be, so the idea of going over the Pyrenees was daunting
I am a planner who likes having multiple contingency plans
I frequent travel alone for work and Camino solo (yes, and am female so I worry about that too)
I really enjoy meeting people on the Camino but am intimidated by large crowds of strangers
I both sleep lightly and snore so I always stay in small hotels for the sake of my fellow pilgrims

So we will title Day 1 as flexibility is the key to a good Camino.

Given my love of planning, I had the whole thing planned. Hotels reserved, transport booked, packed, unpacked, repacked and ready. Had my credentials from the American Pilgrims on the Camino. Mildly worries about cold on the pass, and hot everywhere else.

I was in a meeting on the day I left, so the earliest I could leave was 130pm from the US. I had looked at the different alternatives - fly to Paris and train to SJPP, or fly somewhere in Spain and train to Pamplona. Through it all, I was worried about my luggage as I had business in Spain and needed non Camino clothes. So I decided to fly to Barcelona, store my bags at the AC hotel by the train station, train to Pamplona, and then get to SJPP. Due to the flight schedules, I would arrive in Pamplona after the last bus to SJPP. Before June 1st, the buses only go in the afternoon, and I didn't have time to wait until the next day for a bus, so I prearranged a taxi to take me to SJPP. Cost = 100 euros (ouch). But my train to Pamplona and cab ride was the same cost as the train from Paris, so I was $$ neutral.

Aah, the best laid plans. Delta contacted me at 5am that the flights from Amsterdam were all delayed so I would be leaving 4 hours late, missing my connection to Barcelona. So I rebooked a flight from Seattle to Portland, then to Amsterdam, and then to Barcelona to stay on schedule. Of course, I had to leave my meeting early, but I have an understanding boss. They did mention the Portland Amsterdam flight was also delayed, but that I should make it. Well, it was delayed so bad that I had 35 minutes in Amsterdam to get through customs and to my flight. And they told me my luggage would never make it. So I just barely made my flight and hoped for the best for my luggage, since my checked hard side had my hiking poles and new hiking shoes. My backpack was a carry on with most of the things I would need for the trip.

As you have guessed, no luggage in Barcelona. It was on a flight that would get in at 4:25pm, which is around 2 hours into my train ride to Pamplona. So I arranged to have it sent to my Barcelona hotel, quickly took a cab there to drop off my other small carry on and dump as much stuff in it as possible, and make sure they would hold my luggage (no problem) and I was off without my shoes and poles.

All the transport worked just fine. My taxi driver spoke a little English. And much to my delight it was a woman so I didn't have to worry about the cab driver being a secret axe murder. She dropped me right next to the TI in SJPP at 8:25pm on Saturday night. It was closed. I had no idea who to get to the pilgrims office. Stopped in a hotel to find out. Made it to the office and it was closed. What? I thought it was open until 10pm. It was but it closed from 8pm to 930pm. Not wanting to wait around, and without enough sleep to think about needing dinner, I set out to find my hotel - villa Goxoki (which was lovely). No hotel had ever heard of it, but the address was Camino napoleon. So a nice man directed me to the Camino and told me to stay left. I was completely confused, and asked another man who was out walking. He spoke Spanish, and I showed him the name of my hotel. I think he said that he knew it, and to follow him. Mapquest was sending me in a different direction, but he said no. And you know what, the Camino truly does provide as this place has 5 rooms and I just happened to find one of the guests of the hotel. The place is .6 miles from SJPP up a very steep incline. I was officially on the Camino. I checked in, knew there was no way I was walking back down there for food, had a nice cold bottle of water and said good night to day 1 in my Camino journey.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPdP (June 2017)
Camino Frances Sarria (June 2018)
Camino Ingles (July 2018)
#2
Wow! Sounds quite an adventure.
 

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
#3
Looking forward to reading more... sounds like you had an interesting time getting to the Camino, hope things improved once you started walking (shoes?). But you made it to Pamplona, will you be back to walk again?
 
Camino(s) past & future
(May 2018!)
#4
So I really enjoyed reading these posts while I was preparing for my trip. For some reason, I could not motivate myself to do these reports while I was walking so I will do them now. Things to know about me:
I am a lover of Spanish history, which is why I Camino
I am a typical American who can't take a month off work so I am doing this in segments
I am 50 and completed the sarria to Santiago portion last year (became obsession to finish before I turned 50)
I am now starting over at SJPP and left the USA from Seattle on May 26
I am not as fit as I should be, so the idea of going over the Pyrenees was daunting
I am a planner who likes having multiple contingency plans
I frequent travel alone for work and Camino solo (yes, and am female so I worry about that too)
I really enjoy meeting people on the Camino but am intimidated by large crowds of strangers
I both sleep lightly and snore so I always stay in small hotels for the sake of my fellow pilgrims

So we will title Day 1 as flexibility is the key to a good Camino.

Given my love of planning, I had the whole thing planned. Hotels reserved, transport booked, packed, unpacked, repacked and ready. Had my credentials from the American Pilgrims on the Camino. Mildly worries about cold on the pass, and hot everywhere else.

I was in a meeting on the day I left, so the earliest I could leave was 130pm from the US. I had looked at the different alternatives - fly to Paris and train to SJPP, or fly somewhere in Spain and train to Pamplona. Through it all, I was worried about my luggage as I had business in Spain and needed non Camino clothes. So I decided to fly to Barcelona, store my bags at the AC hotel by the train station, train to Pamplona, and then get to SJPP. Due to the flight schedules, I would arrive in Pamplona after the last bus to SJPP. Before June 1st, the buses only go in the afternoon, and I didn't have time to wait until the next day for a bus, so I prearranged a taxi to take me to SJPP. Cost = 100 euros (ouch). But my train to Pamplona and cab ride was the same cost as the train from Paris, so I was $$ neutral.

Aah, the best laid plans. Delta contacted me at 5am that the flights from Amsterdam were all delayed so I would be leaving 4 hours late, missing my connection to Barcelona. So I rebooked a flight from Seattle to Portland, then to Amsterdam, and then to Barcelona to stay on schedule. Of course, I had to leave my meeting early, but I have an understanding boss. They did mention the Portland Amsterdam flight was also delayed, but that I should make it. Well, it was delayed so bad that I had 35 minutes in Amsterdam to get through customs and to my flight. And they told me my luggage would never make it. So I just barely made my flight and hoped for the best for my luggage, since my checked hard side had my hiking poles and new hiking shoes. My backpack was a carry on with most of the things I would need for the trip.

As you have guessed, no luggage in Barcelona. It was on a flight that would get in at 4:25pm, which is around 2 hours into my train ride to Pamplona. So I arranged to have it sent to my Barcelona hotel, quickly took a cab there to drop off my other small carry on and dump as much stuff in it as possible, and make sure they would hold my luggage (no problem) and I was off without my shoes and poles.

All the transport worked just fine. My taxi driver spoke a little English. And much to my delight it was a woman so I didn't have to worry about the cab driver being a secret axe murder. She dropped me right next to the TI in SJPP at 8:25pm on Saturday night. It was closed. I had no idea who to get to the pilgrims office. Stopped in a hotel to find out. Made it to the office and it was closed. What? I thought it was open until 10pm. It was but it closed from 8pm to 930pm. Not wanting to wait around, and without enough sleep to think about needing dinner, I set out to find my hotel - villa Goxoki (which was lovely). No hotel had ever heard of it, but the address was Camino napoleon. So a nice man directed me to the Camino and told me to stay left. I was completely confused, and asked another man who was out walking. He spoke Spanish, and I showed him the name of my hotel. I think he said that he knew it, and to follow him. Mapquest was sending me in a different direction, but he said no. And you know what, the Camino truly does provide as this place has 5 rooms and I just happened to find one of the guests of the hotel. The place is .6 miles from SJPP up a very steep incline. I was officially on the Camino. I checked in, knew there was no way I was walking back down there for food, had a nice cold bottle of water and said good night to day 1 in my Camino journey.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(May 2018!)
#5
Hello SoloCamino,
Thanks so much for taking the time to chronicle the beginning of your Camino. I’ll be travelling solo as well, and have (almost) none of your organizing savvy. I am daunted and encouraged.
 

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SoloCamino

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria 2016
SJPP 2017
#6
So day 2 started earlier than I had hoped. One of the fellow pilgrims left the house at 530am. I never understand these early risers, but at least it is light for them at this time of year. When I walked in October, people left this early and walked in the dark. Must be trying to avoid the sun and hear, or worried about getting a bed. I can't figure it out. That is why I like having my rooms reserved. It takes all the worry about where I will stay, and it forces me to achieve more when I get tired (which is inevitable with me). That is actually one of the reasons I enjoy the Camino . I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I am able to push myself onward to my goal.

Back to the Camino, I was regretting my lack of visiting the ATM, so I got ready and went down to ask the owners to call me a taxi. They kindly insisted on driving me themselves. We passed by many pilgrims already on their way. So, loaded with cash, and the weird European breakfast (all carbs - croissant, toast, I always opt for muslei and milk - gluten free pilgrims beware), I joined the pilgrims and was off. So a few things I was worried about - mountain pass? Like Everest? Snow? Will I be rock climbing? Luckily I watched that great time lapse of another pilgrim's walk and knew that this was not a mountain climb, but a nice walk on a marked trail. Of course, the time lapse gives you no sense of grade. I had read that the first part to Orosson was the steepest so it would be easier after I passed that. And bathrooms? I read all the debate on taking water or not and worried about that for some time. To coffee or not to coffee? Being from Seattle, there is no choice to not coffee so I just drank less than usual.

The walk was lovely. Birds singing, sheep making sheep noises, no rain. The grade was steep but I decided to take it slow and stop and enjoy the scenery when my heart rate got too high (love my Fitbit). Met lovely people along the way. I love the sense of community that shared suffering creates. And I didn't see anyone listening to music and zoning out. Most people were walking with others, and there was not a huge crowd. I got to Orosson by 10am (my goal - as you can see, very goal oriented). I had a great cup of coffee, and enjoyed sitting for a little bit. Was very surprised that the bathroom that looked like an outhouse was clean, had toilet paper, and flushed. Filled my water bottle and was off.

I was through the hard part, the sun was shining on this beautiful day. Hurray! And that is about when the wind began. I couldn't believe the wind - the gusts were enough to knock you around. I saw a bicyclist get blown off his bike. It was crazy. No matter what direction you were walking in, it was always a headwind. I have never heard anyone talking about wind - is this normal? And it lasted the entire time until you get a little past the border with Spain. The wind was definitely the worst part. I tried to figure out how to get more aerodynamic (hands hooked on backpack straps and arms pulled in). That helped a little. I started to take many more breaks, sitting off to the side of the Camino and resting on my pack. The wind chapped your lips and made you very thirsty, but it kept me nice and cool. It was about this time when I started thinking - you paid for this, you volunteered for this, I will never do this again. Of course, then I would walk through a beautiful forested area and think - I am so lucky to see this beautiful place, I am so blessed, I am so glad I am here. Then the next steep incline and the internal battle begins again. And it is this internal battle that gives me the most joy when at the end of the day, you know you have really accomplished something.

I was so glad for the fountain of Roland. That water was wonderfully cold. And I knew it was all downhill after this - well mostly. At the decision point on the steep descent or walk 1.6 kms along the road, I had already read enough on this forum to know I would not enjoy the road walk. But everyone had a paper from the pilgrims office saying NO. Big red X over the decision point telling them to go on the road path. For me, it wasn't raining, so I wasn't worried about slipping, even in my ridiculous sneakers. This is when I missed my hiking shoes and poles the most. So I took the path through the woods and I am glad I did. The small rocks did make it easy to slip, but I took it slow and zig zagged or walked sideways on the sections that were the steepest. I can see that it would be hard on the knees if you didn't take it easy. It was a lovely path through the woods. In the middle of it, there is a short incline (which made me say - really?). But I made it to the hotel. Hotel roncesvalles is one of the nicest hotels I have stayed at in Spain. I had a great dinner there and let me waiter pick my choices (it was a menu meal for 19 euros). He picked everything I never would have - including cheek in wine - and it was all delicious! And it included a delicious bottle of local white wine. Of course, sitting that long gave my muscles a chance to remind me that they were angry about this whole walking all day business, but that happened last time too. And I would wake up pain free the next day. Since it was Sunday, the museum was closed which made me really sad. I will come back to this town as a non pilgrim and visit it next time.

So all my concerns about the pass were unfounded. It is strenuous but if you take it slow, you can make it. My book said it takes 8 hours, and I told myself I had 12 hours of daylight. But even with all my stopping and resting, it took 8 hours. Advice for this section: don't fear the weight of the water bottle and bathroom situation - you will need water. Take it slow and don't be intimidated by others who are faster. Be prepared for wind - not sure how one prepares for that. Make reservations for roncesvalles as far in advance as possible.

Steps today - 41,393.
 

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