Arrival to Saint Jean Pied de Port


As soon as you get to Saint Jean, get a scallop shell and place it on your rucksack – Brother Gareth.

Yesterday the walking was tough; a result of walking 100km the two days before.
I didn’t enjoy the walking yesterday at all.

It wasn’t all pain and torture though.
After hobbling out of Aroue I stopped on the way at a lovely little cafe en route in the little village of Ostatua:

Duhalde-Ostatua-Uhart-Mixe

I decided that a half litre of red wine with a couple of baguettes would be a good pick up, but I was wrong. I left the friendly cafe and the waitress with the hypnotic blue eyes and walked like a coma victim being sporadically struck with a cattle prod up into the hills and towards the village of Ostabat:

Ostabat

The walk in was difficult but rewarding:

Walk-into-Ostabat

Sign posting here is very good, with the French Basque language version always listed too:

St-Jean-Pied-de-Port-Donibane-Garazi

The view of the Pyrenees mountains is breathtaking. Well, breathtaking with a better camera anyway:

Pyrenees

In the late afternoon I arrived to the village of Gamarthe (Gamarte in Basque) and awaiting me was a lovely and friendly Donativo farm which offered their farm products for pilgrims. I made a coffee, had a cup of milk, a yoghurt, and went to lay down on the grass and rest up for a while:

Gamarthe

I said to myself that I’d get going again by 7pm, but by 7pm my body’s inner red flashing light was flashing the intense red warning sign and I opted for an early night and a well-covered place, in case the rain came again. I settled on a stone bench and slept, being watched over (I think) by Joan of Arc:

Sleeping-at-Gamarthe-church

I had a wonderful sleep and woke up to the intrusive sound of my alarm clock at 4am.
5 more minutes.
I left my sleeping spot at around 5am and made my way towards Saint Jean Pied de Port.

A lovely church on the way:

Basque-church-architecture

Almost there:

Chemins-de-Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

I arrived into a wet and windy Saint Jean Pied de Port (SJPP) in the early morning:

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port-bridge

It feels wonderful being back in SJPP, with the Camino Frances steps ahead of me.

On the way into the town I stopped into the first Gite (Refuge) I saw. There were a couple of pilgrims sitting around the table and the owner – a very friendly older woman – began laughing when she heard I spent the night sleeping in a church. She offered me breakfast and upon hearing that it was 8 Euro per night in the dormitory room and with breakfast included, I booked a night’s stay and took my sleeping bag out to dry it off in anticipation for a comfortable night’s sleep:

Saint-Jean-Gite

The address of the Gite is:

Refuge du 55
Rue de la Citadelle

Refuge-du-55-Rue-de-la-Citadelle-Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

The shared kitchen:

Saint-Jean-Gite-kitchen

To book a bed here you need to head a bit down the road to the building number 39, which is the sort of pilgrim headquarters and where you can also buy your pilgrim passport if you don’t have one already and where there are friendly and informative volunteers ready to help you out if you have any questions. Be advised that unless you book a private hotel or albergue, that you can only stay 1 night in a Gite here (as is the case in Spain).

Opposite building number 39 I spotted these boots hung up as a reminder of the way ahead:

Saint-Jean-boots

The next thing to do is go buy some ear plugs, go make some contacts in the town, and head to the Gite to make a tea and wash my clothes. This evening I finally have some evening @ so I hope to have some quality time on skype with my children. A very positive day, despite the rain 🙂

Categories: Walking into Spring and Summer [My 3,109km walk from Prague to Finisterre | 2014]Tags: , , ,

2 comments

  1. I don’t know what to say! I was due to touch down in St Jean today. I was due to leave for Roncesvalles tomorrow. But unfortunately, I had to postpone until September. I would have been great to walk a few kms with you. Ah well!
    You are on the homeward stretch at this stage!
    Buen Camino!

    • Hi David! It’s a shame you had to postpone, but it only means that your time wasn’t ready for now and it will be right for you when you walk in September. On the homeward stretch yes, but for me the walk so far was just the ghost at the feast of the Camino Frances and I intend to now take my time and truly experience the Camino (as opposed to rushing through it). Wishing you a lovely day! Nev 🙂

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