St. Jean Pied de Port


St. Jean Pied de Port
Uhart-Cize, France

Uhart-Cize, France

What a splendid day, when Plan A and a dream meet in SJPdP and come true, just for a day. Perhaps letting go of expectations, making an agreement to live one day at a time will be my Camino. Happy to leave Paris and sit in cushy seats on the TGV fast train to Bayonne, we had lots of room to stretch out, snooze and dream.

We arrived on time, 10:30 pm, walked across the street from the train station to The Monte Carlo Bar, Restaurant and Hotel, great location, shabby chic with WC down the hall. Next morning, rolls and coffee, a short train ride, and voila! fast forward and we are in our starting place for the first stage of our Camino in a private albergue that was number one on a list of favorites. And it’s now my favorite. Albergue Beilari.

Before we left our backpacks at the albergue, we walked across the lane to The Pilgrim Office to weigh our bags (too heavy) and complete Pilgrim business. I ordered my Pilgrim Passport or Credencial in Spanish from APOC, American Pilgrim on the Camino, a few months before we left. Craig signed up today and received his passport and bought us scallop shells for our journey. This passport is the pilgrim’s identification and is to be stamped at albergues and landmarks along the Way. This record of our pilgrimage must be shown at the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago to verify distance and order of places traveled on the Camino, to qualify for the Compostela, the final certificate. Today’s stamp is my first sello (stamp).

We also found a kind of mini REI, right down from our albergue. Finally I found just the perfect organizer bags. They are practically weightless, but the backpack is another story. This shop carries everything a hiker might need. If you arrive empty handed, come here and they will outfit you for the entire Camino. Ah, next time.

SJPdP looks like a popular tourist destination, with an endless ring of automobiles circling the winding streets, with parking outside the main village. Now, our feet are the mode of transportation. Finally, motor vehicles disappeared early evening.

We walked all over, on this hot day, and to the Citadel for breathtaking views of the Pyrenees we will hike to Roncesvalles. Update: we have this lasting memory of the view and landscape, because our first day on the Camino was foggy and drizzly.

In the evening the albergue was a Camino family, pilgrims from many countries, speaking French, variations of Spanish, Italian, German, Korean and English. We had a fabulous group dinner with red wine and for dessert, tiramisu and a sweet verbena tea, introductions and a wish for the sweet dreams to continue. Lights out at 10:15-6:15, no electronics. Unbelievably, all these rules are good for a full night’s sleep. Must be the altitude or the attitude. Buen Camino


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