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What was your first day like

capecorps

Member
First day on the Camino.

It is said that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

I was no exception.

I had micro-planned myself from my home in the Beaches, Toronto to Pamplona in Northern Spain. Subway to the Red Rocket, then to Pearson Airport then to Schipol Airport then to Madrid Airport then to a Bus to Pamplona. Just under two days: went like clockwork.

But here’s the rub. I had optimistically assumed I’d be sleeping like a baby through most of it. No such luck. Wide awake for two days. So the bus leaves me, the only passenger deep underground in the Pamplona bus station alone in the dark, 6:30 am. I hoist my backpack and gingerly make my way upstairs gradually becoming aware of sleeping rubbies (winos) in the stairwells. As per my micro-plan, a cafeteria should have been open, but everything was deserted and in total darkness. I shouldered my way through some rough looking individuals to the streets of Pamplona – to find- no sign of life. No people, no cars, no nothing.

I started walking, and I walked and walked through spectacular Medeavil streets. Everything was closed, deserted like the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. I finally came to a church with a big door with a smaller door set within it. I knocked on the small door and a priest came and led me to an enclave where a few people were adoring the Host. I joined them and the hours sped by. When I came out, the city was alive with traffic, people and activity.

Unbeknownst to me, I had come to Pamplona on a National holiday and the Spanish take their holidays seriously.

I signed into Casa Paderhorn. Everyone there seemed very unfriendly. So I thought, what the heck: went out and had lots of tapas and even more wine, staggered back at 6:00 pm, slept a solid twelve hours and started walking the next day.

And that was the beginning of the best time I ever had.

What was your first day like?
 
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Rent a house in Santiago (1 month minimum)
300m from the cathedral and around the corner from the fresh food market in Santiago. Perfect place to tele commute from (1GB symmetrical connection).

mralisn

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP-SdC (2005), Camino Norte-Fisterra (2010), SJPdP-Muxia-Fisterra (2012), Camino Norte w/Primitivo-Muxia-Fisterra (2014), Camino Portuguese (2016)
Now THIS is a great way to start the Camino! Thanks for sharing. This summer, my first day just getting to SJPdP was an adventure. If you have some time and a glass of wine, read "Uh-oh. I'm in trouble..." here.

"Rubbies" ha!
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Short and slow for us.
After a week of racing like chickens with our heads cut off around Paris, not wanting to waste one second, we sat in the square in Astorga for a couple of hours, doing nothing, waiting for the post office to open (so Grandpa could send on 3kg of excess gear!). We took the gentle stroll to Santa Catalina and despite the distance being only 10km, called it quits for the day - washing, journals, kids playing, pilgrim dinner, bed. It was a welcome change of pace after the manic week in Paris.
And we loved it.
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
Capecorps Shalom and Greetings from Jerusalem
We have shared a similar experience! My first Camino was solidly planned from home to Saint Jean, got out in Pamplona and just missed the last bus East before the Good Friday holiday weekend! We Jewish pilgrims to Saint James are not as familiar with your holidays and actually have no idea what goes on! Your winos were sound asleep in the stairwell, mine were out walking around singing dancing and otherwise cavorting in the streets. The hostels were packed so I took a cheapo hotel and set out to explore. Passing the cathedral about 2200 I heard heavenly music from within and upon entering discovered the local organist and choir practicing for Sunday's mass and enjoyed an amazing two hours of singing and organ. Didn't sleep a wink that night because of the racket and commotion outside and thinking-is that what the Spanish always do? First day out from Pamplona is easy, was a sunny day, pleasant walking there in the springtime then I came upon Alto Perdon and the statues here. People love them or hate them I sat there totally flabbergasted and amazed photographing each one. This amazement and flabbergastedness continued with me until I successfully reached Santiago and it was a wonderful life changing experience-no still Jewish but obssessed totally with the Camino.
S
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
Gosh! I must have been lucky - mine was pretty uneventful. Arrived at Biarritz airport and met friendly pilgs on the bus to the train station. A few beers and a sandwich with them outside the station then we all got the train to SJPP. The pilgrim office sent me to one of the nicest albergues I've stayed in, and then I walked to Valcarlos the next day. The hardest bit was the last hundred metres into Valcarlos on a steep uphill, where I quickly learned that sometimes it's OK to stop every 20 metres to catch breath!

Buen Camino!
 
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mlhhome

Really new member
Year of past OR future Camino
Various (‘12, ‘13, ‘15, ‘16, ‘18 & ‘19)
My first day was one of the richest on my Camino....
I arrived half asleep at 8:00 am in Madrid after an overnight flight from Miami. Despite the long walk to baggage and customs, I still had to wait 90 minutes for the ALSA bus to Pamplona. I was very anxious with no experience with the incredible Spanish bus system. My anxiety was for naught as the bus arrived 10 minutes before departure time and my name was on the roster. I tried to sleep on the 4 hour bus ride to Pamplona; but was twarted by the 80's music (Duran Duran etc) the bus driver had pumping from every speaker. We arrived mid afternoon and with a little help from my map and several locals, was pointed to the albergue. Quickly approaching a zombie state, I checked in at the abergue and unpacked, repacked and then walked the city for tapas and search of english speaking pilgrims (Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Italian, but none spoke fluent english.) I returned early to my bunk and was asleep at 7:00 p.m. I was so tired I did not confirm the route out to town and woke up before 4:00 am. wondering what to do. I laid in bed for an hour, got ready and left in the dark; trusting my prayers for were being heard. I walked one half a block and heard english being spoke - my guardian angel had been was working overtime and placed "Simon from Bath" in my path. He was an experienced pilgrim who help melt my anxieties allow me to trust and be open to the experiences of the Camino.
 

johnnyman

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
June/July 2011 and 2013
My first day was pretty darn memorable. I, too, wound up in the underground bus station at Pamplona, completely disoriented and jet-lagged. I dragged my duffel bag up the steps to the outside, looked around and had no idea what to do next. Luckily for me, a wonderful young lady happened by and walked me all the way to the door of my hotel, just off the Plaza del Castillo. I spent two nights there, then headed out into the countryside, no idea what to expect. That ascent up the Alto de Perdon was brutal, not to mention the descent on the other side. When I arrived later at the albergue in Uterga, it was like paradise. And there, I met and had dinner with someone who soon became a dear friend, and someone I continue to talk with to this day, despite him living in Spain and me in Texas. In fact, we plan to walk the Camino del Norte together this coming summer ...
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Like a lot of people I had presumed I could 'manage' my Camino and get the one I wanted...you know the warm dry sunny mud free one where you get to keep super clean, become uberfit, gain spiritual weight whilst shedding corporeal kilos, have unblistered feed, carry everything you want (not need) whilst keeping your head up to admire distant horizons.... :lol:. However though emergency dentistry and snowstorms were not on my original wish list for the first day they, along with many other unexpected 'gifts' throughout that journey, enabled my camino to 'Suffer a sea change into something rich and strange' becoming in that process a far more valuable and joyful experience.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
moral to the tale: avoid Pamplona as a starting point :lol:
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
Kiwi-family said:
moral to the tale: avoid Pamplona as a starting point :lol:
No! Pamplona is a great starting point. Easy to get to, nice place if you have to recover from jetlag etc, lovely albergue, rich culture etc etc. And if you're not confident about starting from SJPP and crossing the mountain you can leave from Pamplona and climb the Alto del Perdon on the first day instead. I love that day out of Pamplona! :D

Buen Camino!
 
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northyukon

New Member
From 3 weeks in Italy, to one day in Paris, I took the overnight to Burgos, my starting point. I had the google instructions on how to get from the train station to the Cathedral, but looks like the train station has changed from south to north, and so nothing was as it should have been. Finally after asking many times for directions I arrived, still in the dark, as the train had let me off at 5 am. Sat on the steps of the Cathedral and watched as other pilgrims started their day. Since I had booked a room in a hotel I was going to sightsee. When the hotel opened they informed me they had no record of my reservation and no payment. Perhaps that was the best thing to happen to me, other than losing my $80.00 so I went to the Peregrino's Albergue and checked in there, and really felt like I was beginning my pilgrimage, along with the many others.
My first walking day to Hornillos was wonderful, met many nice people, and wasn't overly tired at the end of the day. A great beginning of a 25 day pilgrimage. And it only got better.
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
northyukon said:
From 3 weeks in Italy, to one day in Paris, I took the overnight to Burgos, my starting point. I had the google instructions on how to get from the train station to the Cathedral, but looks like the train station has changed from south to north, and so nothing was as it should have been.
Yes, Burgos train station is miles away from the centre, and Burgos is a funny shaped city, so it's not clear where the centre is if you walk in from there. I managed to get there by following maps at bus stops, but I'd suggest getting a taxi (unless you're there at 6am on a public holiday like me and there's not a taxi or train to be seen!).

Pilgrims walking through don't have to worry about all this fortunately! :D

Buen Camino!
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
One every year since 2007
capecorps said:
First day on the Camino....Everyone there seemed very unfriendly. So I thought, what the heck: went out and had lots of tapas and even more wine, staggered back at 6:00 pm, slept a solid twelve hours and started walking the next day.
And that was the beginning of the best time I ever had.
And so it starts for many pilgrims who, notwithstanding previous planning, find themselves in another world with new realities.
It still happens to an old-timer like me who arrives tired, or rather exhausted, in a different time-table, another language, other customs, unfamiliar sounds and smells, etc.
And it invariably was the beginning of an eye opener.
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
One every year since 2007
tyrrek said:
Pamplona is a great starting point. Easy to get to, nice place if you have to recover from jetlag etc, lovely albergue, rich culture etc etc.
We couldn't agree more! We started our Camino for the 5th time in this town, most recently in September 2012.
 

CaminoGen

CF May-June 2011; Oloron to Fisterra Sept-Oct 2013
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino frances-SJPP. Santiago (2011); Oloron to Fisterra (Sept 5-Oct 23 2013)
Re: Re: What was your first day like

tyrrek said:
(...)I quickly learned that sometimes it's OK to stop every 20 metres to catch breath!

Buen Camino!

Every ten if need be. :-D
My first day looked like yours except I found a fellow pilgrim while waiting in the registration line at the airport at home
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
The first day of my first camino was awful. It had snowed and rained all night, and the trail down from Roncesvalles was a sea of sticky, ankle-deep MUD that sucked my boots right off my feet a couple of times. Scenery was lovely, but back in those stone-age days of 2001, there was no place to get a cup of coffee for the first 10K! The rain really set in once we got to Zubiri, but we had booked into the hostel in the next town, and were committed to that... OMG that slog along that road, past the ugly magnesium plant and the grafitti, was positively brutal.

Thank goodness we had booked (God bless the Pamplona cab driver who insisted we do so when he brought us up the day before.) I had the finest hot bath of my life, a big firm bed with the sound of the rain and river running just outside, and a fun, funny dinner with fellow pilgrims and the wisecracking innkeeper. I slept like a stone that night!

Whenever times got tough on the trail that followed, I could always look back on that day of mud and rain and tell myself "at least it´s not as bad as THAT!"

Reb
 

Caminobd

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Walked Camino Francis, Saint Jean to Santiago, 2012 & Pamplona to Santiago 2014
Everything was good until we got to Bourdeau. We walked to the train station and asked for confirmation on what train to get onto. Got on the train, but did'nt know the car we were in was supposed to split off at Dax and head to Pau. The part of the world i come from, trains go east or west if at all and dont split. We were on the way to Pau and not Biarritz for about an hour before the conductor discovered our mishap. :oops: Her "ey yi yi" caused my already nervous heart to drop to the floor. After that, the conductors phoned ahead for us and shuttled us back to Dax, even holding a train or two back to wait for our arrival. We would be told "allez" as we were jumping out the door to the platform and running to the next train. We eventually arrived in biarritz in time to catch the last train to St. Jeans. It was touch and go though. My premier experience of being in another country and having to rely on the generosity of others.

Kelly
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
The first day and it doesn't matter where you start is a day of exuberance, of excitement, of joy of amazement and not a little effort-even in the best physical shape the hyperactivity of emotion is overwhelming and the day passes quickly. The second day may be marked with first doubts and loss of some self-confidence, one begins to understand the enormity of the task ahead and it may be difficult to hit the right rhythm and to maintain it, this day goes slowly. Third day rules! The pain sets in-those suffering from blisters start looking for needles and thread, slips twists sprains and swellings take their toll, Achilles rears its ugly head and the word tendonitis is first mentioned. Many pilgrims are seen performing the well-known and infamous "Santiago Shuffle" around the albergue-goes both with and without music. Remember the first day dream about the last but that third day is a monster.
 

bryanjb

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona-Finisterra 2012 Sept 17th-Oct 20th
Our first day was very unexpected. We started from Pamplona at 2:00 in the afternoon. We reached Alto del Perdon about 1 1/2 hours before sunset. At the top we met a man pamplonian man who hikes Alto del Perdon often. My brother and I talked to him for about 1 1/2 hrs when the sun started to set. He was a great historian and told us many interesting things about spain, pamplona, and the people. one of the most interesting people we talked to the whole trip. We still had to get down the mountain and to an alburgue. When we finally reached an alburgue the sun had set. The alburgue was full! So we went around town looking for some shelter to lay out our sleeping bags as it was supposed to rain that night. We couldn't find anything that would shelter us from the rain. So we walked to the next town in the pitch black and they did not have an alburgue. My brother did have a headlamp. We walked to the town after that and arrived at 9:55 and it closed at 10:00. We were put into another room as every single perigrino was already sleeping. it was very awkward checking in as it was out first time. the hospitalero would not let us speak or take a shower as not to wake the other pilgrims. The hike was awesome that day though. And the next day was better! The next day we stayed at our favorite alburgue: Casa Magica
 

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Telluridewalker

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (1988)
My first day was a study in contrasts. I had just finished two months of train travel/touring around Europe, so my pack was quite heavy, and I timed the end of that trip to land in Pamplona for the week of San Fermines (The Running of the Bulls) madness, where I slept in the park most nights and I frankly don't remember much. :oops: I then left the muchedumbre of Pamplona for the hot, empty unknown of the Camino. It took some time, but I eventually adjusted from the bacchanalian to the ascetic life. :D
 
After arriving in SJDPP in the evening of April 19th 2012 and having had a delightful supper at L'Esprit du Chemin I went to the Pilgrim's office to register and to get advice regarding the weather for the following morning.

The pilgrims office informed me NOT to go over the Route Napoleon due to expected bad weather. Fair enough, I was an ex emergency services worker so I did not need telling twice not to put myself in jeopardy.

The next morning (20th April) after a great breakfast I set off on my pilgrimage to take the Valcarlos route.

I had not gone too far when a pilgrim approached a group of us and informed us that we were going the wrong way and that the route ahead was for cyclists only. We then took an alternative road – led by the pilgrim who had previously advised us.

After walking for about 45 minutes we started seeing signs for 'Orison'. By now, something did not seem quite right but who were we to know? The climb was now starting to get very steep and it was really taking it out of me. Shortly afterwards we arrive at Hunto and the journey to there nearly killed me; I found it very tough going.

Eventually I got to Orison and the weather and views were very good but I was still mindful of the bad weather advice given out by the pilgrims office. Luckily for me, I was booked in for a nights stay at Orison as this was my original intended route.

I filled my water bottle, used the toilet and promptly dropped my new John Brierley guide down the loo as I was about to flush it! (I mentioned this in a previous thread). By now pilgrims were walking straight past Orison and heading for Roncesvalles. I mentioned the bad weather but they seemed happy with the situation and pressed on. I decided that as no one was returning to Orison I would cancel my night's stay and carry on walking over the route Napoleon.

I don't think that I had walked 300 yards when a snow plough came down the road ! (towards Orison). I kid you not. There was still no returning pilgrims and I continued with my journey.

The snow had only settled as I left the main road and I had to take the path over the mountains. There was lots of footprints in the snow so it was easy to follow them and not get lost. After a while I met a man who was walking in the snow and coming in the opposite direction. He explained to me about the expected conditions.

The gist was that the snow extended over about 2 km right to the very top and past the pilgrim's hut. He advised NOT to take the steep descent but to take the long way (road) round to the monastery. I was now out of my comfort zone and I had walked for 6 hours before having something to eat in the pilgrim's all weather hut.

The snow was now up to the tops of my boots and I was starting to tire with the weight of my pack on my back and slip sliding in the snow. I finally reached the highest point of my climb before the descent and was suddenly confronted by the most strongest winds that I have ever encountered. The winds were so strong that it blew me off my feet and I lost my water bottle. The good news was that the tracks in the snow led away from the steep descent down to Roncesvalles monastery and around on to the road route. Every previous pilgrim had heeded the advice of my lone walker and taken the long route.
I later learned that the lone walker ( although I have no proof of this) is the owner of Orison refuge and he goes out regularly to check the route and to see how safe or unsafe the route is for his clients.
Finally I was just approaching Roncesvalles monastery as the clock was chiming 4-00 pm. It had taken me 8 hours, out of my comfort zone and against the good advice that I should have heeded. I only met one other pilgrim when I stopped for a break at the pilgrim's hut far up in the mountain.

One final word: BOOTS. My boots were great for getting over the route Napoleon and for keeping the cold out from my feet. They have proved indispensable to me on many occasions on walks in the North of England and they still do. Putting them on now 5 months after I came back from my Camino is just like putting on an old pair of slippers and still give good service.

BUT THEY WERE NO GOOD FOR WALKING ACROSS SPAIN IN THE HEAT. THE HEAT WILL KILL YOUR FEET AND PROVED TO BE VERY HEAVY AS WELL.

Like most pilgrims I had to start walking from 6-30 am in the mornings and try and finish by 2-00 pm in the afternoon due to the heat. Just something to bear in mind if you are planning your Camino for next year.

Go for it, heed the advice and Buen Camino!

Charlie

Apologies for posting this originally on the wrong thread – 'Did your Camino fail or exceed your expectations?
 

DAuntDeb

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP to Santiago Sept/Oct 2012
Sept 2 2012 Started for Orisson after a wonderful night at Esprit du Chemin in SJPP. It was a sunny day with some clouds that looked like a monster...beautiful. I had a bit of a cry as I was beginning. In my journal I said "this trek up here is a real kick in the pants...small steps is the way to go." I was thankful I was not on a bike and surprised when I passed people more fit than I. The trip to Orisson was intense but short. (I wish there were an alburgue at about 12Km.) I met two young german girls along the way. We took turns passing each other a number of times. I would see them over the next few days as well and then we lost track of each other. On the last day, day 36, on the way into Santiago, walking up yet another hill, I met one of them again and we again took turns passing each other til we arrived in front of the cathedral.
 

siseale94

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, Oct.( 2012), Pamplona to Santiago Compostela. Camino Finisterre, Oct. (2015)
The day began four and a half hours later than planned due to an American Airlines delay in Dallas. Got to Pamplona and slept about three hours, left for the Camino at about 4:45 am, very excited and immediately got lost. Walked for about 3 hours, rounded a corner and saw the Hotel I'd left 3 hours before. A very good man helped me get to the Camino and I was off.....having already walked about 10 or 12 kms. I learned much that first day and it put me on a path that I will always cherish. I met some of the best people I have known and they spanned generations, nationalities and ethnicities. The first day was a hard but worthwhile lesson, I had to get better and I did. First day on the Camino, I learned my first lesson on the Camino.
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
1999........September 4: I spent a long time wrapping my feet and left the refugio in Pamplona three hours and two coffees (in two separate bars) after everyone else had left. I was scared shitless and I walked 18 kilometers. I was exhausted (but no blisters). I stayed in a private albergue because I was afraid of meeting "real" pilgrims, and then next day I got up and did it all again, and AGAIN...Eventually, I stopped fighting with myself! It got fun aftrer that!
 
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lovingkindness

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
2004…....May ¿23?: When I arrived in Roncevalles I felt excited, vulnerable & terribly shy. The Forum didn’t exist back then so I had no idea that 70 or more others would be setting off the same time as I. It was overwhelming. I carried next to nothing in my back pack and didn’t own a camera –I collected postcards instead. Being summer, it hadn’t occurred to me that I might need a fleecy or jacket or anything to ward off the cold, and it was very cold first thing in the mountains.

The first week was a bit like Summer Camp. By the time I reached Logroño I was peopled out and overexcited, chatting non-stop to everyone and anyone and near collapse. So, to calm down and shut up I put a sign around my neck saying , Heute bin ich nicht sprechen; Aujourd’hui je ne parle pas; I am not speaking today. I didn't speak Spanish so that wasn't a problem.
 

paddy25c

Member
i started out from SJPDP & i thought i was going to die crossing what are the tallest mountains in the world , i had done a fair bit of training , but on nice flat level ground , i was totally unprepared for how steep it was ,also i forgot oxygen bottles & a Sherpa , & my sister did'nt help my mood by shouting motivational quotes @ me like , ''pain is weakness leaving the body'', i had't wanted to punch her so much since she married my action man to her barbie . but we stopped in orrison , & the next day was much better .
 

robertt

Active Member
I remember ascending to the Aubrac from Le Puy and feeling free and excited, if a bit uncertain. At the top, before Saint-Christophe, the wind was suddenly so severe that I had to crawl to keep my footing above the river gorge. I met my first pilgrim friends, a couple from Quebec whom I will never forget, in Saint-Christophe, but it was so windy we could not hear one another! So my first major Camino memory is - WIND!
 

Alongwalk

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2010)
The following is what I wrote to friends from the time I arrived in SJPP to the end of my first day's walking to Roncesvalles. I had flown from Dublin earlier in the day ... had spotted one potential peregrino in the terminal in Dublin and when I exited Biarritz airport to catch the bus, I found him and 5 other Irish guys waiting. We instantly joined each other and started asking and answering all the standard questions ... 'What made you want to do the Camino?'; 'How far are you hoping to walk?', 'How did you prepare?' and one which brought up quite a few amusing answers, 'What have you got on your MP3 (iPod, etc) player?' Meeting with these guys seemed like a big 'welcome to the Camino' gift for me, as I'd had a few of the usual worries and doubts earlier in the day. The company was good and it helped me ease myself into my big adventure. We had a snack together at the train station in Bayonne and dinner together in SJPP.

Location: St Jean Pied De Port ... jumping off point...

where the keyboards are funny ... the beds look comfortable ... and EVERYONE seems to be here for the Camino.

I'm about to head out for some food with my new best friends!! (But they'll never replace my old best friends!!) I've been in the company of six Irish men since I got off the plane!! So won't delay. Tomorrow is a big day.

Location: Roncesvalles - end of Day One... first day was beautiful. It was not as tough as I expected and I feel great after it. Started out from a foggy St. Jean Pied de Port at around 8a.m. Bought bread and water for the day and set off on my first navigation exercise of the Camino. The hospitaleros in the Albergue had assured me that when the town was in fog, the weather would be very pleasant in the hills. They were right. The view a few kilometres from town was wonderful.

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/6...ickr.com/4113/4945410498_d5388ffd4a.jpg[/img]
DSCN1002 by Griangraf, on Flickr[/url]

The weather and the scenery both gave me the assurance that I was in the right place at this time... mountain pastures with cows wearing big clanging bells around their necks, then open plains with wonderful views across the Pyrenees, intense blue skies, lovely breeze whenever it was needed. Birds of prey hovered overhead. A day-long hike of 16 km uphill, crossing the border into Spain, reached the Col de Lepoeder and 5 km downhill, to Roncesvalles - all quite gradual and not too tiring at all! Every so often I shook my head a little and smiled to myself at the realisation that, after all the months of preparation, I was here, walking through the French / Spanish countryside. I felt happiness, satisfaction and a hint of apprehension at what was ahead. However, if today's experience was any indication of what lay ahead, there was no reason to be fearful.

Accommodation tonight is in the legendary big stone barn, sharing one open space with about 120 other pilgrims. I settled into what will be the daily routine of arrival, booking in, washing self and clothes, relaxing, eating, going to bed. Shared the table at dinner with one Italian and two Columbians and practised communicating in the absence of fluency in each other's languages.

Attended the Pilgrim Mass and blessing, caught up with the rest of the Irish and suddenly curfew time was approaching fast. Brought in the washing and hit the sack. The first few snorers had already started up before my head hit the pillow, but sleep would soon come.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Hiking 20 k up the 1060 meter Ibaneta pass via the Valcarlos route on my first Camino in 2004 at age 65 to the monastery at Roncevalles was one of the most difficult days on that Camino and certainly the MOST physically exhausting day of my adult life then to date. I was pooped! Although I had hiked in preparation for the trip, nothing had prepared me for such an effort. Beneath a deep blue sky and brilliant sun I gasped and ached while my pack weighed like bricks. But eventually I made it to Santiago walking all the way.

On that first Camino I learned the hard way that this is NOT a walk in the park! Just because so many pilgrims have been successful does not guarantee that all will be. Anybody any moment can pull or fall or break anything. The most common injury is the result of trying to walk too far too quickly carrying too much!

Thus for other Caminos 2005 through 2012 I have started walking slowly and very easy for the first week. Daily distances cited in guidebooks are not sacred. We all need to consider the topography and the weather plus our health and pack weight as well as personal strength and ability to endure.

Still after all these years what matters for me is to DO IT!

Margaret Meredith
 
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Olivares

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
I posted this a while ago-- so here it is again: :D

The morning I was to start walking the Camino Frances, I sat on my bed at St. Jean Pied de Port and started sobbing uncontrollably. I was so nervous and anxious. I was a solo female, about to turn 50 and have never (ever!) walked more than 5 miles at a time in my entire life. Sitting on a strange bed, thousands of miles away from home, I let it all out sobbing like when nobody is watching. After a little while, I took a deep breath, grabbed my bag and away I went. The second I stood at the door and felt the early morning air all fears melted away. Within 15 minutes of walking the Camino I was chatting with a Mother-Daughter team from Denver and admiring the small vegetable gardens we were walking by. Later on, I shared fruits and energy bars with a nice young man from Belgium. I made it to Roncesvalles in 7-8 hours and it felt amazing. That day, which started with me crying, remains one of the best days of my life.

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you;
they're supposed to help you discover who you are."
-Bernice Johnson Reagon
 

30daystosantiago

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 solo and 2013 with wife and toddler
My first was quite challenging as I started in SJPP and crossed the Pyrnees. It took me far longer than expected- I started around 0700 and did not arrive in Roncevalles until after 5pm. I also ran out of water about two hours outside of Roncevalles. This was a huge lesson for me- fill up the water bottle as frequently as possible!
 

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