We have had terrible WIFI the last few days so it is catch up time.
I am going to condense the happenings so as not to have you falling asleep reading a long post. We will try and be better from here out with reporting.
Monday was cold but clear and sunny for our early visit to Notre Dame. We were able to walk right in and Jim got us tickets to walk up to the towers. I loved the gargoyles and Jim, ever the engineer, loved the fact that the two sides of the building arches were built to allow for a less than perfect lining up. Apparently, the arches deviate in the center by several inches and the builders adjusted to make them meet. When we left the line was over 1000 people long.
JD: We got there early to get our tickets for the climb to the top (400 steps) which also allowed us to have a light breakfast, tour the interior of Notre Dame, find and visit Saint Sulpice church to see the Rose Meridian line and then get to the Eiffel Tower.
We had 3pm tickets for the lift to the second floor as the top was sold out until the 29th. Got in the stair line by accident, waited, told since we have prepaid tickets we can get right on the lift. WRONG! Another line that did not move for 30 minutes. Decide to walk up anyway. 700 stairs. Took our time and got a breezy but beautiful view of the city as it was also a almost cloudless sky. I was not able to take as many pictures as I wanted as my phone again lost battery TOO soon.
The tea and candied fruit shop we have been trying to get back to after seeing it the first day was finally open when we came by. Wonderful selection of candied fruit and some very interesting tea flavors. Our suitcase to get mailed tomorrow just got a bit heavier!
Finally found an out of the way restaurant to have some interesting pasta dishes!
Now rearrange and pack for train trip in the early morning.
We climbed the Eiffel Tower in the afternoon and had great views as was expected. Then out for dinner and back to the room to pack.
JD: The adventure continues with a visit to Dali of Paris courtesy of Mr. Levi who now in his 90’s early on meet Dali after seeing one of his sculptures and deciding to buy and display many more of DALI’S works for the world to see. Much like the Leanin’ tree Museum in Boulder Colorado. Nice history about the different stages of Dali’s life.
Travel to St. Jean Pied de Port
We left the Airbnb at 6:45 to catch the train to St. Jean Pied de Port via Bayonne. The trip was uneventful with the exception of most of the folk on the train from Bayonne to SJPdP had backpacks. We are not alone!
We immediately stopped at the postal office and sent our suitcase with the clothing for the cruise to Santiago de Compostella. There is a man who holds luggage while “pilgrims” walk The Way.
We wandered around St Jean and found quite a few neat shops including a spice shop. We would love to return some day. We also visited the Citadel built in the 1200s. It was amazing to see the work from so long ago.
The Compostela office to get our “Credencial del Peregrino”
JD: Get to the high speed train just fine having scouted our route earlier and board for our trip to Bayonne. Highest speed I saw on their app was 318km/hr – 196 mph. When this train passes a train going the other way the whole train car shifts from the compression wave of air it creates.
In Bayonne we move two tracks over to the local train to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port.
After arriving and now in search of the Compostela office we walk by the post office which would open from lunch at 1:30. Wrap our suitcase in cellophane and mail it off to Ivar. He runs an international forum on the Camino and also stores baggage for pilgrims.
Get our credentials (your passport to travel along the El Camino de Santiago), find a wonderful spice shop and have our first Pilgrim dinner. A nice salad, chicken leg with a whole potato and an apple crumble pie.
Dinner was with a new friend, Don, from California. Prior to that I sat around the table at the albergue with Ruth from Spain. Ushia from Bulgaria and Mauricio from Brazil. It should prove to be an interesting trip.
Finally we hike!
Today, 26 September, was our first day hiking. From all accounts, it will be the most difficult of the entire 500 miles. There were long distances of uphill climbs with most of the beautiful day punctuated by constant high winds. We were almost blown off the trail and several times the wind blew our hiking poles into our legs. This is Basque Country and the sheep, horses and cattle were abundant win to was neat to hear the ringing of the bells around most of the necks, sheep, horses and cattle.
I am proud of Jim. This is the longest he has ever walked in a day, 15.9 Miles. It was tough for me and hard on Jim and especially his knees. He did remind me that he never asked “are we there yet?” It was certainly warranted.
We are at an albergue tonight that sleeps 183 people in Roncesvalles, Spain, in bunk beds in groups of four. Our cubicle mates are from Seattle (Jeff is walking his 3rd Camino) and a Korean lady. There are many Koreans on the Camino and we have enjoyed helping Conle who is around 10 work on his English. We have met more Brazilians, Australians, Spanish and who know who else we will meet.
Time for dinner. Maybe more later.
Dinner was pasta followed by chicken with French fries and ice cream for desert. We are told French fries are a staple on the Pilgrims Menus. It is sure we will tire of fries prior to the end of our trip. Dinner companions were Peter from the Netherlands, a retired chiropractor and Marcos, a Brazilian working in Germany.
A Pilgrim Meal is one served in the evenings to the pilgrims at an economical price. Many include salad/soup, entree, potatoes, desert and many include wine, sometimes unlimited. As to wine, a nice red wine can be purchased for 4 – 7 euros a glass. Some bottles are as little as 3.5 euros. A different wine schedule here, for sure.
JD: Start our hike for about 25.8 km. Up and little downs and more ups. The wind picks up and the walking gets difficult. I would estimate at least 40 mpg winds with heavy sustain gusts on top of that.
Day 2 Hiking
After the typical European breakfast of toast and jam we took off down the trail at 7:30 in the dark. The uphills were not as bad as yesterday and the downhills were bad. Jim is having trouble with both knees now. Zubiri is our home for this evening taking care of knees and resting up for our trip into Pamplona tomorrow. There were a lot of beech forests today on a rocky trail. We met Phillip from Scotland, Barbara an American living in Puket Thailand and Jo from Australia. Jo and Barbara are having their packs shuttled from town to town and carrying only a day pack. Another group just hikes sections led by a tour guide with no packs at all. There are many ways to hike the Camino.
Our small Korean friend went down to the river going through the town and caught at least a dozen crayfish. He said they ate them, I am not so sure.