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Friday, April 8, 2011

End of Day 1 on the Camino!

Our very first alburgue (St. John Pied de Port)
Taking a break in Orison (the only possible stop on day 1)


A waymarker

St. John Pied de Port (the starting point)

Beginning the walk in St. John
We just completed day 1 of the Camino. It is reputed to be the most difficult day with about 4,000 feet of elevation gain in 14 miles as it crosses the Pyrenees from France into Spain. We have had gorgeous weather ever since we arrived in France on Wednesday. I would guess it to be in the high 70's today. The views were fantastic. I can´t send photos yet because we are at a hostel where the computers don´t have USB ports. I´ll add them soon, I promise.

A brief overview of the trip thus far: arrived Wednesday in Toulouse. Enjoyed a lovely sunny afternoon of outdoor cafes and general looky-loo. Impressions: French people still smoke like chimneys, are very stylish, and Converse tennis shoes are all the rage. After a night of sleeping off jet lag, we headed for Bayonne on the train and had 3 hours to look around before making our connection to St. Jean Pied de Port, where we began the Camino. Bayonne was delightful; an old walled city in Basque country- you´ll see the photos soon.  St. Jean is similarly charming, with exceedingly old buildings, cobbled streets and charming shops. We nabbed a spot in a great Pilgrims hostel (that´s what we are for the Camino- Pilgrims) and enjoyed the company of 16 other guests representing France, Holland, Australia, England, Scotland, Korea and Spain. It was a pretty awesome experience, as we dined and slept with these folk who were all starting the Camino the next day. Actually, some had already been traveling for awhile, walking from points afar in Holland and France to arrive at St. Jean. Our 500 mile walk will be nothing compared to what some of these people are doing. Pretty amazing. The hostel is run by volunteers who are committed to the spirit of the walk, so the energy is quite contagious.
We feel pretty good about our condition after the "worst day" so we´re enthused about tomorrow. The good weather promises to continue, so we´ll slather on the sunscreen and enjoy the day. Again it is 17 miles, but not as tough as yesterday. Maybe the next computer- access venue will have USB ports so I can share some of my awesome (I hope) photos.

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