Day 1, St Jean pied du Port to Pamplona (Cirauqui), Spain. The camino de Santiago. My bar ends look like bulls horns…

St Jean pied du Port to Pamplona (Cirauqui)

Covered 123km today. Due to the height of the Pyrenees St Jean Pied du Port stays a little darker in the mornings until the sun clears the mountain tops, this meant we knew we’d be setting off in the dark. However, at 5am I found myself watching a pretty large electric storm over the pass.

The sky was lit every few seconds and it was very close. We decided to delay for an hour and then another as there was no let-up. When I went to the reception to pay other pilgrims were there booking another nights stay. When we did arrive at the pilgrims office with the bikes they told us that they were advising everyone to stick only to the road, and only leave if you had to. So as we climbed out onto the pass it was getting light, we’d lost two hours and the lightening was still overhead.

We climbed out of the rain by sun up and found ourselves sandwiched between cloud layers. Climbing up into the second layer of cloud and the rain was torrential, that stayed with us into Pamplona. Navigating through the city was perfect with the GPS and we stopped at the old town albergue for a sellos (stamp for the credential) we cleared Pamplona about 3pm. Today we managed a lot more distance than I thought we would. Glen has had bike trouble and fell off twice (very low speed) but we found a nice albergue in Cirauqui.

Cirauqui is a town on a steep knoll. It’s surrounded by steepness and has steep engraved into its streets. It wants you to enter slowly and leave qqquuuuiiiiccckkllyyy! But the albergue we found at the top opposite the church (which uses its bells to remind you it’s there all through the night) is more than worth the (steep) climb. As we approached there appeared to be an open air living room going on at first floor level. The people sat up there raised the albergue owner who opened up and told us to bring our bikes straight in. My kind of home owner! We leaned our bikes near his little library and he stamped our passports. He then talked food. I have no idea what he said but he used the most beautiful words you could imagine. I nodded and kept saying “yes” in Spanish. Especially at the point where he was appearing to indicate portion size with his hands and things were getting larger. Either that or I was in trouble. Before long this massive meatball sandwich appeared and made my day really lovely.

At some point in this food related higher state a new friend rolled onto the scene (well, as much as gravity would allow) Myles Schnorbus. More about him tomorrow. I don’t want to detract from the loveliness of the sandwich

This blog: Tony Hemans and Glen Eccles cycled the Camino Frances from St jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela covering 845km in 6 days in October 2012.  If you are trying to get fit, planning an adventure, long distance cyclist or just curious about my mid-life crisis then subscribe and share!

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