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Hiking the Camino de Santiago in 2019

GoldCanyon340

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As we are transiting in HKG up to Europe in a few weeks obviously the stress levels have been higher. Looking better now but I'll hold sway on that.
 

GoldCanyon340

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Arrived in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The picture is our view for a morning cafe au lait and pain du chocolat. The hike starts tomorrow and we’ve registered at the Camino office and received our Camino ‘passports’, which are stamped nightly at each accommodation.

We spent three nights in London acclimatising to the time zone, visiting family and friends and recovering from LPGS consumption on the HKG-LHR flight.

Yesterday was a long travel day to here from London. The Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord was delayed 40 minutes and we missed our SNCF connection from Paris Montparnasse to Bayonne and St Jean. All these trains were booked on the same ticket and the ticket office staff at Montparnasse was excellent: we were rebooked at no cost to a later train to Bayonne and SNCF paid for a taxi to St Jean (1 hour away and €143 cost). Everything worked flawlessly. Arrived at St Jean at 9pm, 2.5 hours later than planned but the restaurant next to the accommodation stayed open to feed us and we had the prix fixe dinner.

The rest of today will be choosing a lunch location from the myriad of bistros and restaurants, probably the same for dinner and getting a good rest tonight.

Tomorrow is day 1: St Jean to Orisson.

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Jos888

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Arrived in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The picture is our view for a morning cafe au lait and pain du chocolat. The hike starts tomorrow and we’ve registered at the Camino office and received our Camino ‘passports’, which are stamped nightly at each accommodation.

We spent three nights in London acclimatising to the time zone, visiting family and friends and recovering from LPGS consumption on the HKG-LHR flight.

Yesterday was a long travel day to here from London. The Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord was delayed 40 minutes and we missed our SNCF connection from Paris Montparnasse to Bayonne and St Jean. All these trains were booked on the same ticket and the ticket office staff at Montparnasse was excellent: we were rebooked at no cost to a later train to Bayonne and SNCF paid for a taxi to St Jean (1 hour away and €143 cost). Everything worked flawlessly. Arrived at St Jean at 9pm, 2.5 hours later than planned but the restaurant next to the accommodation stayed open to feed us and we had the prix fixe dinner.

The rest of today will be choosing a lunch location from the myriad of bistros and restaurants, probably the same for dinner and getting a good rest tonight.

Tomorrow is day 1: St Jean to Orisson.

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tgh

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Good luck and good walking GC… I look forward to the reports from the front….
 

GoldCanyon340

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Day 1 - 9th September 2019: St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Orisson

After a long lunch yesterday we left St Jean around 9am after coffee with chocolat au pain. The cafe we visited saw the locals enjoying a few glasses of white wine and a hearty breakfast. Now this is French living! We later discovered the breakfast and wine is a regular event for the Monday market in St Jean.

The climb today was tough in parts. It’s only 8km to Orisson but with sustained sections of 20% uphill gradients. We took a break at a cafe half way, arriving in Orisson at 12.20pm

Spent the afternoon playing cards and imbibing the odd beer. The pilgrims’ dinner at the refuge was very good: vegetable soup, great roast chicken and veg and rice pudding. Wine is supplied to the table too.

The pics are of the Orisson refuge and the view from the balcony opposite.

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GoldCanyon340

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Day 1 supplemental - 9th September 2019

At the pilgrims’ dinner we introduced ourselves in turn with a quick bio and/or our feelings of the Camino and why we are walking it. A really good way to get to know people. It’s the kind of cheesy thing you do at the start of a training course but this one was much better because you achieved something (walking up the hill) and we all have something in common.

We have met Jessica who is Homemade Wanderlust on YouTube; she is staying at the Orisson refuge tonight. She has walked the USA Triple Crown: Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve watched most of her vlogs so it was good to meet in person.
 

GoldCanyon340

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Day 2 - 10th September 2019: Orisson to Roncesvalles

This leg over the top of the Pyrenees to Spain is the most difficult on the Camino in inclement weather. And inclement weather we had.

The morning started well with breakfast served to pilgrims: coffee, juice, bread and conserves. Leaving the Orisson refuge at 7.45 we proceeded uphill for 2.5kms and then the rain came in. And the wind came in. And the hail came in. And the low cloud came in. Managed to get another 1.5km further on before we had to give up and turn around and get back to Orisson. I had four layers on and was very cold.

Once we got back to Orisson we called a taxi to our destination. Managed to walk 8 to 9 kms in total which is more than half of the leg.

Arrived at Hotel Roncesvalles at 11.45 and the shower was easily one of the best I’ve had. After resting for a few hours we met up with friends at one of the two bars in Roncesvalles, played a few hands of cards and had dinner at the hotel.

Difficult day.
 

GoldCanyon340

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Thoughts from the front, part 1

As you’ve gathered there’s a lag of two to three days with my posts. The priority for my evenings is to shower, have dinner and sleep. I post here when I can. However we have arrived in Pamplona after three good days of hiking from Roncesvalles, updates on those days will appear soon; we have a planned rest day here, known in hiking parlance as ‘taking a zero’. I also have an issue with my iPhone app I use to compress pics before posting so once that is sorted I’ll get images to you.
 

GoldCanyon340

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Day 3 - 11th September 2019: Roncesvalles to Lintzoain

A cool and clear morning. Breakfast of a baguette with jamon and coffee. Felt much better after the long day yesterday.

Morning in Roncesvalles:

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Started the walk at 9.15 for the first 3km to Burguette. Really lovely village where Ernest Hemingway used to stay at the hostel.

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All the villages and hamlets are quiet at this time, which makes a peaceful start to each day’s walk. Found an ATM to refill the cash reserves and walked 8.7kms through Espinal to Bizkaretta for lunch at Bar Juan.

Lunch was frittata and a green salad with a cheeky glass of vino blanco. I read before we started that by the end of the Camino you’ll either love frittata or never want to see it again as it’s so prevalent!

A steep 2kms after lunch and we’re at Lintzoain for the night in Posada El Camino, a really beautiful accommodation. I’d recommend this place to anyone. Husband and wife are our hosts, lovely couple. We played (more) cards, rested then had our pilgrims’ dinner.

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Really good day and so much better than yesterday.
 

GoldCanyon340

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Day 4 - 12th September 2019: Lintzoain to Larrasoaña

As seems to be par for the course with any hike we do, in any country, it is mandatory for there to be a climb to your destination and/or immediately the next morning. Lintzoain is no different, a steep 100 metres over the top of the hill west of town through dense bush with wild blueberry trees and established rosemary bushes next to the trail. A large gully to our left gave some good views back east.

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The climb’s peak came earlier than expected and at 955 metres didn’t seem as high, which was good. A steep downhill into Zubiri for lunch was ok but on cobbled and rocky paths. While you must expect all surfaces on Wilgric’s to walk a continuous downhill like this is more mentally tiring than physical and you need to
concentrate on every step. Zubiri is a nice town, more modern and larger than we’ve seen since leaving France.

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At lunch I had the first real ‘hiker hunger’ where you have uncontrollable cravings for carbs. If you’ve never experienced this then, even though I like to consider myself good with words, nothing can explain this adequately until it hits you. I had a pepperoni pizza and half of Mrs 340’s jamon and cheese pizza, with an Estrella. A good 8kms well spent.

The afternoon section was bizarre. 5.3kms to Larrasoaña and it really seemed like double that. The first 2kms out of Zubiri is a less than attractive climb up steep paved roads and first tracks with the local magnesium plant on your right. A downhill then a tough uphill, due to sun more than gradient, to Ilárraz. We have maned this ‘cat town’ as there were more cats than houses all having a siesta. The picture is before another six cats arrived to settle in the shade. We were getting tired by this stage and the local water fountain was a godsend. After pouring several litres of water into our hats and over ourselves we headed out for the last 2kms to our destination.



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This was where it got weird. We just seemed to walk for AGES to Larrasoaña. No matter how long it took we just didn’t seem to make progress. We drive once from Adelaide to Sydney and at some point over the Hay Plain we went into a black hole and didn’t seem to get closer to Sydney for a good hour; this is what today felt like.

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FINALLY arrived at our accommodation, not bad but hardest beds we’ve slept on possibly anywhere. But the local (only) bar was lovely and after a couple of cervezas and, you guessed it, cards we had a good dinner with free flowing wine.

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GoldCanyon340

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Day 5 - 13th September 2019: Larrasoaña to Pamplona

Left at 7.50am as today is warmer by a few degrees. A quick 600 metres to the next village where part of ‘The Way’ was filmed.

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Then a brisk 3.2kms to Zuriáin for the last coffee stop before Pamplona. Wonderful breakfast of eggs and chorizo.

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Flat section after here before a steep climb into Arieta that gave good views.

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Made good progress and ploughed on to Pamplona where again the last few kms seemed to take forever. But the way into Pamplona is along the River Arga for 3kms or so, making sure you turn left at this bridge in Trinidad de Arre.

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Arrived in Pamplona by walking up the hill into the Old Town by the Cathedral.
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GoldCanyon340

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Thoughts from the front, part 2

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So this is my trusty Collingwood member cap for the 2007 season. It’s been on many hikes around the world and whenever I’m walking at home in Adelaide, covering a distance of approximately 10,000 kms. It really should be getting its own status credits for distances like that ;)

Beginning to assume the worn appearance of Steve Waugh’s baggy green, I prefer it to a wide brimmed hat. It is very happy the Camino is another notch on its belt.

An item of amusement from the first week is how some people respond to Australians by either talking about sheep or appending ‘mate’ to each sentence. The latter of course being pronounced in an accent akin to James Coburn’s excellent attempt at Strine in The Great Escape. But I guess my Spanish accent is so bad that perhaps this is what’s known as karma?
 

Toula92122

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Thanks for your wonderful photos and descriptions. It’s made me feel like I’m on the adventure with you. Certainly has raised my enthusiam level for doing the same walk.
 

GoldCanyon340

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Thanks for your wonderful photos and descriptions. It’s made me feel like I’m on the adventure with you. Certainly has raised my enthusiam level for doing the same walk.
@Toula92122 thank you very much. The views and food and wine have been very good so far. There’s been challenging uphills but that is all part of The Way.
 

GoldCanyon340

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Day 6 - 14th September 2019: Pamplona (rest day)

A planned rest day so no need to rise early. 25 degrees maximum temperature in Pamplona so comfortable for exploring. However hiking needs are the priority so we found a laundromat on the main square and took breakfast while that completed.

We met a couple from Florida, the second in two days, and they too struggle with the hills. They knew this would happen as their home state is not known for its mountains but in fact many people from all backgrounds have commented on the hills. Back home in Adelaide I do a lot of hill training in and around Belair National Park and that’s helped greatly.

Our first week of the hike has been with friends from Sydney. They leave us today to spend a few days in Sevilla before heading home. So after finishing breakfast at 11 (!) a quick return to the hotel, stow the clean clothes, shower and find a spot for a long, farewell lunch.

Three hours pass easily when you stop at a bar for an aperitif, seranaded by the chap below, then settle in for a three-course lunch.

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Didn’t take too many pictures today as relaxation was the focus. A quick dinner with Mrs 340 before an early night for an early start tomorrow.

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