Camino update travel 1: St Jean pied de port to Pamplona

This was posted a year ago today on travelalphabetabc.wordpress.com. 

My Camino has finally begun and I completed stage 3 yesterday on arrival in Pamplona. I’m having today as my first rest day, much needed and well deserved after 3 days of walking and feet which are hurt, blistered and raw. 

My Camino journey started from Chester on the 2nd April and I started walking on the 5th having given myself 2 nights in St Jean Pied de Port which was well worth the extra time spent in it. Also after early mornings and travelling I wanted my body and mind to be ready to start the walk. Getting to St Jean was made more difficult by the French strikes, however taking 3 buses instead of 2 trains is nothing I guess when you’re planning on walking 890km through to Finisterre.

Roaming the streets of St Jean certainly gets you ready for the start of your walk as you come across signs showing you the way and it is the start of the 2 routes out either the Napoleon route or the Valcarlos route both leading you over the Pyrenees. Both difficult and both prepare you for the journey ahead as you are challenged mentally and physically. If you do get chance the museum is worth a visit in St Jean pied de port and will get you thinking of past pilgrims as you follow in their footsteps.

You will meet lots of pilgrims along your way so you are never really alone and even if you don’t see anyone on your first stage from st Jean you will meet them in Roncesvalles where most people end their first day’s walk. Everyone starts at different points and it’s easy to walk with different people each day as some may break their walk in Valcarlos, not start until Pamplona or take planned or needed rest days along the way. I’m on my first rest day in Pamplona and know that the people I walked with yesterday will not be the same I walk with tomorrow. The beauty of that is you get to meet lots of interesting people.

Each day has something new to offer whether it is the scenery, the type or length of walk or the things you learn about yourself.

I’ve entitled this open and gratitude as my words for this post. Open because it was the word I used to describe my Camino at an albergue dinner as I am open to whatever the Camino has to offer me. Gratitude comes from what I feel towards my body and especially my feet for getting me this far.

Pamplona is the first city we come to along this Camino and it is well worth a stop here. If you can’t build in a rest day then try to get here early in the day to explore. You will not be disappointed as there are cathedrals and churches worth a visit, museums, parks and shops or restaurants available. If you need to buy anything you have forgotten then you can do so here or send home things no longer required.

Tomorrow I will complete stage 4 to Puente la Reina which reaches a high point on Alto del Perdon. If you have seen the film ‘The Way’ with Martin Sheen then it is the part with the pilgrim statues leaning forward due to the wind. No matter how much my feet hurt I know I will complete it and be proud of myself on arrival. It’s not easy but it’s amazing how much strength we find in ourselves and our our bodies.

I hope to update from my next rest day in Burgos a while away yet but until then I wish you ‘Buen Camino’.

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