May 20, 2008 St. Jean Pied de Port

I arrived on the train from Bayonne in the late afternoon, after flying from Seattle to London, then London to Bordeaux. At Bordeaux I had caught a train to Bayonne and then the St. Jean train. At the train station there seemed to be a mad dash for the old city of St. Jean, where the albergues are located, and I realized soon each person was hoping to get a bed at an albergue before they were all gone. As I made my way through the gate to the city walls I decided to find a room, rather than stay at an albergue. I happened on the pension of Mdm Camino and took a single room with a bath at the top floor of her ancient home. The room had west-facing windows, giving a views of the homes and hills surrounding St. Jean.

After settling in I headed to the pilgrim office to get a weather report for the next day and to get a stamp on my credential. A helpful French woman with long black hair stamped my passport, gave me a list of upcoming albergues, and asked me whether I felt I could make the walk all the way to Roncesvalles the next day. I said I wasn’t sure, so she made a reservation for me at the albergue at Orisson, about 10 km up the hill from St. Jean. After finishing at the pilgrim office I headed out to enjoy this delightful, Basque village along with many other tourists who’d obviously arrived at St. Jean for its charm rather than to use it as their camino launching pad. I had a generous dinner at a restaurant outside the city walls, then headed to bed at Mdm Camino’s.

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