Mom and me were sitting having breakfast on the stairs to Sacré-Cœur in Paris. It was a wonderful morning and the start of another adventure. We spent two days here before taking the night train to Bayonne and a connecting bus to Saint Jean Pied de Port. We arrived mid-day and got our seashells, passports and map, then we headed out on the trail. 8km later we entered Orisson Refuge and we slept there for the night. Mom has never been away on an adventure as long as this, she did more then great, she was awesome and I had the pleasure to share the adventure with her! The Pyrenees made a big impression on us and ultimately so did the eucalyptus forests. I did the pilgrimage for the scenery, the social meetings and because I love to travel, and I know mom did it for the same reasons. As many others have also stated I would say that you have three different sections on the Camino. The first is where the pilgrims are facing the physical challenge presented by the trail. The second stage is the one that includes the trek across the dreaded peseta. This stage is hot, arid, monotonous and relentless. The final stage is the one that feeds the soul. It took us 34 days and 800km to reach our goal, Santiago de Compostela. When I asked mom about the best moments along the trail she simply answered.
– The overall adventure of being out with my son and in a different country, all the different people we met, the changing landscapes we walked though, all the love and camaraderie.
ABOUT THE TRAIL
The French Way is the most popular of the routes of the Way of St. James (Spanish: Camino de Santiago), the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. It runs from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles on the Spanish side and then another 780km on to Santiago de Compostela through the major cities of Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and León. Some travel the Camino on bicycle or on horseback.
I would recommend John Brierley’s guidebook. You can buy it on caminoguides.com. I had a Swedish one but i didn’t like it as much. Brierley’s book is more detailed and you can read about the area to. I recommend you to download the app maps.me and look at it. If you have GPS in you’re phone it would be really simple to follow you’re progress and find alternative routes. It works in airplane mode but if you have it going in the background it will eat you’re battery.
Runners or boots
I had runners. I usually have boots when I’m out but now we had 35-40 celsius and I took runners because they have a lot of mech. When it rains you will be wet but in the end I think its worth it. We only had two days of rain and the heat made them dry in a heartbeat. Runners make you’re socks dirty quicker and i recommend you to hand wash them every day.
I walked in late May and finished 3th of July. It’s hot but not that much people. We only had problem finding beds on albergues twice and then we slept in hotels. I liked this period and recommend it.
You will see and walk with people every day and in the evening you will meet a lot of them at the square. If they don’t want to talk or be social they will tell you in one way or another. Most of them want to say hi and chat for a while, others want your company for a day or two. I would say that you should walk a little bit more or less then Brierley’s daily suggestion to easily find a bunkbed and lose the bigger group of pilgrims.
First day out
I would recommend you to only walk 8km the first day and stay in Refuge Orisson. During the dinner they usually invite people to stand up and talk about there Camino and the expectations. You have a big chance to meet and connect with pilgrims here. The day after you walk to Roncesvalles and Spain.