Today is a full day of travel. I wake up at 6 am and after 11 and a half hours and 3 train changes, I arrive at 7:40 pm in St Jean Pied de Port on the last local train from Bayonne.
In the train are fellow pilgrims, as I can deduce from their gear, and a big group of young boys and girls aged 10 to 12 years from Pamplona. I talk a bit with them. They had stayed in Bayonne for 3 days to learn the Basque language, called Euskera. They say it is an old language from their province of Navarra.
|On the train from Bayonne to St Jean --|
a boisterous group of young boys from Pamplona
From the train station I follow a person who seems to know where he's going and I am right. He leads me directly to the Pilgrim Office and I am second in line to get a pilgrim passport for 2 euros and a booking for a bed at the municipal hostel, for 8 euros.
At the Pilgrim Office, they tell us pilgrims that the Route Napoleon leading over the Pyrenees is closed as there is too much snow. The man at the office indicates about thigh-high and mentions something about 4 South Korean pilgrims being rescued and airlifted from there. He then points out in a map the alternate route we must follow going through Valcarlos. I am a bit disappointed as I was looking forward to this scenic route crossing, but I know they know what they're saying.
I run down to the hostel, leave my pack on my assigned bed and run out again to grab a bite to eat as it is getting late. I have my first pilgrim meal of the trip for 11 euros, after which I go directly back to the hostel as it locks down at 10 pm. I shower then climb up to my top bunk in a room with about 25 other people.
|My first pilgrim meal -- this is just the 1st Plate (of 2)|
I could hardly sleep even with the recommended ear plugs on. A cacophony of night sounds, snores, breathing, movements ensues-- to which I probably added my own. I am guessing I need to get used to this. My stomach is too full from my late dinner and my body tries mightily to digest all that food. Plus it gets too warm in the room and soon I am sweating in my sleeping bag and thermals.
|St. Jean-de-Port at night|
|St. Jean-Pied-de-Port Arch|
|St. Jean-Pied-de-Port bridge|