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City: Rancho Palos Verdes
Begins: Apr 25, 2015
Date: Fri, Apr 24th, 2015
Entry Visits: 602
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The River Walk in Bayenne
The journey to France was accomplished without too much drama. The first flight out of LAX had a massive tailwind and we got to Charlotte almost an hour ahead of schedule. I'm sure most of you can remember an airline captain bragging about his early arrival achievement only to sit parked on the airport until the scheduled arrival time when the gate eventually clears. That is exactly what happened here. The next flight was delayed a bit for a maintenance issue but as soon I reached the gate they announced it was delayed even further. This got me a tad anxious because it severely reduced my chance of making the next flight to Biarritz. I called Ann to bemoan my plight when they suddenly announced the problem was fixed and they were starting the boarding process. That was a relief. I did meet a young lady in the boarding area that was also doing the Camino but with all the renewed rush to get on the plane we never had a chance to chat. Thereafter, the flight was uneventful apart from the irony of me watching the movie "Wild". This is the film made from Sheryll Strayed's popular book about her hike on the PCT. Reese Witherspoon played Sheryl and I thought she did a good job of a rather weird role. I recognized a few of the landmarks but beyond that I found it hard to relate to the hardships portrayed of her early life. I guess I have lived a sheltered existence.
But, the plane was still late and it didn't help when on landing the plane braked hard and my new eyeglasses in their shiny new case slid off the seat and managed to disappear into a little gap under the seat in front of me. I thought I'd lost them but I got out my headlamp and using one of the backpack frame stays I eventually managed to inch them out of this predicament. Then, to further ramp up the angst, we waited ten minutes for the stairs to arrive and then we had to get bussed to the terminal. This all took a long time and I was getting a tad nervous. But thereafter, I got through immigration in less than a minute (LAX take note!) and it only took another ten to walk to the new terminal including another security screening. So overall I had about 30 minutes margin in the end.
Leaving Paris I got a sight of the Eiffel Tower and then on the approach to Biarritz there was a lovely view of the snow capped Pyrenees. I wonder if I'll get to see any of that white stuff? I planned to walk the 7.5 km from the Biarritz airport to the Bayenne train station because there was a bank and a sports store on the way. I struck out at the sports store. They were out of the ultralight tent stakes and I wasn't going to carry a set of stakes more than double the weight of my tent. Then on the hiking poles they had a really nice carbon fiber set but one of the end baskets was missing. Without the basket a pole just sinks into anything soft, like snow. In Bayenne, I walked through a really nice pedestrian area of outside cafes down both sides of the river. The first picture shows one side and the preserved architecture.
The train tracks to St Jean Pied de Port had been washed out a couple of years ago. I'd heard that the train was back in service but that wasn't the case so they provided a coach in its place. This was quite a sporty journey through a lot of narrow and twisting country roads. The scenery was very pleasant however - lots of green. St Jean Pied de Port was a nice little town although a little bit touristy. I stopped at their sports shop and got hiking poles but no tent stakes yet. Then I went to the pilgrim office to get my Camino passport that I will get stamped at every stop on the way. I also got a shell which is the icon for the Camino on all the trail signs. I was getting a little weary by then so I decided to splurge and get a private room in the hope of getting a good, undisturbed night's sleep. Then I did the touristy thing for an hour or so - see rest of pictures - and then found a bar with some nice beer and food.
I did meet a very nice German couple at the aubergue and when I got back we sat out on the balcony and drank wine while chatting about out upcoming journey. So overall a good, but rather long day.
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.