Camino de Santiago – Day 1

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

After doing our {not} relaxing bit in Barcelona, we began the trip to Roncesvalles where we would begin the Camino Frances, one of the numerous and the most popular route to Santiago. There are two traditional “starting points.” One is just on the other side of the border in France, St. Jean de Pied de Port and the other is Roncesvalles. After some reading, we determined that Ronsesvalles would be much easier to get to and would allow us to skip the really bad hike up the mountain from St. Jean. We later found out that there was lots of rain and hail and altogether bad weather so we’re really glad we didn’t pack Finn through that.

Train shenangans
Train shenangans

We had an early train to catch from Barcelona so we set our alarms and headed out early in the morning for the train station. We raced there and were getting pretty worried we were running late and THEN had some mini communications issues in which some of the train employees said Finn needed his own ticket and then others didn’t and then they all talked about it while we waited and tapped our toes and worried we were going to miss the train altogether and then FINALLY got on the train and settled in. Minor heart attack, thankyouverymuch.

Streets of Pamplona
Streets of Pamplona

It was a long train ride to Pamplona but we all napped and Finn got to move and walk around a little more than he did on the plane and the whole thing was wonderfully uneventful. Which, when travelling with a kid, becomes noteworthy and an accomplishment in and of itself : )

As we got closer and closer to Pamplona we noticed that more and more travellers had backpacks and may be Camino bound. We noticed a group of 4 older, very fit, gentlemen who got off at Pamplona and stared walking into town. Eventually we were all a bit lost getting from the bus station to the city and we kept bumping into them and waiving and smiling. We finally made it into the old city (HINT: there is an elevator that everyone in town uses up into the old city from the river! SO much better than climbing up) and toured around a bit. We went to the main square and Finn chased pigeons and played hide and seek and had enough fun to wear him out just a little.

I think I'll move here
I think I’ll move here
Not the best hider
Not the best hider
Running from the bulls
Running from the bulls

In the old square we also talked to a couple of American peregrinos (pilgrims) who had just walked from St. Jean to Pamplona and they began asking all about us walking and gave us great encouragement for taking Finn with us. It was great to hear because I was getting more and more anxiety about it as we got closer to the big walk.

We popped into Cafe Iruna where Hemmingway spent lots of time and had some cortados before strolling around the city some more and running into the 4 gentlemen from the train a few more times. Finally, we went to El Corte Ingles to get snacks and things before our bus left for Roncesvalles. We picnicked in a nearby park and let Finn get some more energy out of his system before heading to the bus station to ensure there was no transportation drama like the train station. Sure enough the 4 gentlemen from the train were there as well and we realized we had our first Camino friends. They spoke little English but we saw them every day for the next few weeks and they would always tickle Finn and smile and we would all try to talk as much as we could.

I spy a Finn man
I spy a Finn man
Waiting for our bus
Waiting for our bus

The bus ride was wonderfully uneventful. There was a little fuss from Finn here and there, but mostly we got to watch the landscape change and take note of the little towns and get a little excited for the days ahead.

When we finally got to Roncesvalles, it was about 7:30, which is practically bedtime on pilgrim time. Finn was still not sleeping wonderfully well so we wanted a private room for the night. We’d called ahead but couldn’t find any in Roncesvalles, so we booked a room just 3km down the road in Burguete. I had looked forward to staying in the alburgue with the pilgrims, but Finn just wasn’t sleeping so well. He was jet-lagged, with a cough, and working on a couple of molars. Sooooo we decided we’d all be better off with a private room. Also, teething is the pits. We got our credencials stamped, toured around the town just a little and I remember seeing people who would later become our friends on the way. Finally we headed out to make the short walk through the in the misty rain. Something about it was so idyllic and medieval feeling. I’m sure its because I always imagine things were muddy back then and had nothing to do with any actual historical significance, but oh well. It was exciting just to get going, even just a little.

Church in Rocesvalles with nubby little Spanish trees
Church in Roncesvalles with nubby little Spanish trees
And we're off!!
And we’re off!!

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Once we got into Burguete, we had some snacks, drank some wine and called it a night. It would be an early morning on the trail.

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