Camino Frances - St. Jean Pied de Port to Orrison
Day 00 - Arrival
We had flown Ryanair the day before from Stansted to Biarritz. There is a very useful pick-up facility called "Express Burricot" who only charge €18 each, for 5 to 8 persons and gear, all the way to St. Jean Pied de Port. Pre-book your place on the web before arrival. Stayed overnight in St. Jean Pied de Port so as to get our Credentials from the Pilgrims Office, have a good look around and enjoy a nice dinner before an early night.
We made a consious decision to walk the entire Camino in the 'traditional' way and not to book any accommodation in advance ... except just this first night in St. Jean.
Day 01 - St. Jean Pied de Port to Orrison
This was the first day of a very long 1,000km trek along the Camino Frances and on to Finisterre. This route was featured in the film "The Way" produced and written by Emilio Estevez, starring his father Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Yorick van Wageningen and Estevez himself.
Rather than face a hard days push up The Route Napoleon and then down the steep route into Roncesvalles we decided to break at Orrison so as to test our backpacks and boots for fit and comfort level. This was a sensible choice as it is quite a climb up to Orrison and it is not a good idea to overtax your feet on the very first day. Many people chose otherwise and they were then nursing some nasty blisters for quite some time. Just as we reached the Refuge Orrison the cloud descended and we were enclosed in cold damp mist. The views disappeared and it was time for a nice hot coffee or soup.
We got directions to our lovely 'Gite' called "Kayola" about 800 metres back from Refuge Orrison. Got a nice log fire started which made the place very homely. Had to trudge up the 800 metres again for the evening Pilgrim Dinner, but it was well worth the trouble. At the end of the dinner everyone had to say who they were and why they were doing the Camino. This was great as an 'ice-breaker' since we continued to bump into many of these same pilgrims all along the way. After plenty of good food and wine, the tramp back down to our lodgings passed in an instant. The log fire was still smouldering when we got back. Some of the other pilgrims stayed up to enjoy another bottle of wine.