Abi leaned over and whispered in my ear, this driver is haulin ass!  To which I replied, I know, but I’m trying not to think about it.  It was a wild beginning, this bus ride to St Jean Pied de Port, of our Camino de Santiago journey.

Our Camino de Santiago Journey

This is the day.  The day we began our Camino de Santiago journey. We forced ourselves out of a warm bed at 6:30 this morning because we wanted to catch the 7:45 bus from Bayonne to St Jean Pied de Port to give ourselves a day to explore this picturesque village.  Thinking how smart we are, we went to the train station last night to find the time table for the bus and to ask where we should purchase tickets. A seemingly helpful information man informed us we needed to buy the tickets at the SNCF ticket office, which was closed.  Got it. We’ll get them in the morning.

Not Our Best Effort

7:15 this morning said ticket office was closed up tight until 9:oo a.m.  Um?  So much for the helpful information man. We attempted to buy tickets from the ticket vending machine but it would not accept our credit card.  Side note: our VISA card with the chip in it arrived in the mail 2 days after we left home, of course it did.  We have an AMEX card with a chip but most of Europe does not accept Amex.  Of course not.  On with the saga.

The ticket vending machine did not take paper money either and of course we did not have 20 euros worth of coin. The bus driver was useless in his wealth of not caring, but as luck would have it a very nice man agreed to buy our tickets with his credit card and we gave him the cash.  All that, and the driver never collected the tickets.  And to add insult to injury, we realized we may have been able to use our Eurail pass.  Not our best effort, but live and learn.

We have lessons to learn while we walk the Camino de Santiago.

St Jean Pied de Port

Aside from the driver haulin ass through the lush green French countryside on a narrow winding road, it was a beautiful ride.  The low lying silver clouds shrouded the hills and the grazing sheep nibbled their way across the fields.  We pulled into the village of St Jean Pied de Port wearing silly grins, it was almost too perfect.

st. jean pied de port

Picture perfect!

The Pilgrims Office

So here we are at the launching point of this great adventure we’ve been talking about for probably close to three years.  Our first stop was the Pilgrims office where we registered and picked up our Credencial del Peregrino.

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Our Credencial de Pereginro (with our first stamp) and our pilgrim shells which we will tie to our backpacks.

We were encouraged by those at the Pilgrims’ center to take the mountain pass trail over the Pyrenees as we were assured the weather would be clear and the views spectacular.  Let’s hope.  We’ve decided to make the trek.  I mean, why not?  We came this far, why not kill ourselves on the first day?  There are water sources along this trail, but there is no food available.

Pin it!

To ward off starvation, we’ve purchased food for the day and we plan to share a baguette and a wheel of Camembert cheese with apples and walnuts, somewhere in the Pyrenees mountains, hopefully taking in breathtaking views. Sounds worth the climb, yes? Oh, did I mention there are no toilets on this mountain pass trail?  Ahem.

Tomorrow, We Walk.
St. Jean Pied de Port

Pointing the way.

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