Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Saint Jean Pied de Port, The Rain Stopped, Glorious Walk to Valcarlos in the Pyrenees

The train ride up from Moissac was rainy and very interesting. We sat with Irish pilgrims who walked the trail all the way in Spain a few years ago and continue to walk alternate routes. The train from Bayonne to Saint Jean Pied de Port was packed with pilgrims...every seat. the rain slacked to drizzle about when we arrived. What a quaint town! Basque architecture...all white washed buildings with red roofs. No more fieldstone walls. It is a walled city with cobblestone streets...Russ does not like how they treat his feet, but they sure make it look old and fun.

Had a good Basque dinner and a good night´s sleep, although not where we expected because they´d overbooked. But they found us a great place. No complaints from us at all!

This morning, it was Not Raining! Glorious start to the walk over the Pyrenees. It was not even cold. We shed our jackets after a mile or so. The hills are covered with patches of forest, prosperous looking farms, sheep, streams, wildflowers. The parts where we walked along the road had light traffic. We stayed off the trails that were more mud, please.

We arrived in little Valcarlos between noon and one. Our inn is on the side of a ravine and as totally cozy as it is pictoresque. We walked into town and Russ used his Spanish to ask a lady at the church where to find glue to fix his boot. She took us to a store and helped us find the glue. Back at the inn, he sewed his boot together with dental floss and covered it with the new glue. The Camino is about leaving your old ways behind...maybe he will be a cobbler in the next life.

Now an afternoon of lolling around, an evening meal in a Basque restaurant on the square by the church, and breakfast at 8:00 at the inn before starting on the next 9 mile hike, to Roncesvalles...half the distance continues our climb over the mountains, and the other half starts us down. This is one of the prettiest places we have ever been.

Oh, and I love that in Spain they use qwerty keyboard :)

About the photos...I cannot get them to stop rearranging themselves at will. Therefore I will simply tell you what pictures I have posted and you can perhaps match up the descriptions with the photos.
  • Pilgrims on the train with us from Bayonne to Saint Jean Pied de Port
  • Pilgrims hiking from the train to the town
  • Russ and Peg, with belly packs covered by rain jackets, at the Pilgrim Welcome Center in Saint Jean Pied de Port
  • A main street of Saint Jean Pied de Port in the rain
  • Overview of Saint Jean Pied de Port from a hill above the town
  • The river running through Saint Jean Pied de Port
  • Russ on the bridge over the river
  • 3 pictures along the way to Valcarlos in the Pyrenees
  • Dogs following Russ along the route into the Pyrenees
  • A dog wishing it could follow us on the adventure
  • A little town we passed through on the way to Valcarlos
  • The altar in the Valcarlos church of Santiago. Note Santiago on his horse ready to kill the Moors, even though they did not come to Spain until centuries after his death
  • An overview of Valcarlos through the trees along the trail as we hike up and out of town in the morning

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