Day 1 — Roncesvalles to Zubiri – 22km

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It took us a total of 29 hours to get to Roncesvalles.  I must admit arriving at the monestary with the images of what I had seen and read on a website (shared in a previous blog) I was in no mood for the night.  We arrived at reception, greeted by a Spanish women who rattled off a load of rules – Shereez and I looked at each other thinking ¨oh my hat¨!!

Pic below of entrance to the monastery, and a few pilgrims waltzing around.

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We signed in and received our first stamp in our Camino Passport booklets – so proud with big smiles on our faces we were thinking ¨OMG what are we in for¨!! We had to remove our shoes and enter the 3rd floor armed with 9kg´s in our backpacks not knowing what to expect.

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The third floor!

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To our surprise the Albergue was stunningly beautiful and a huge welcome to two tired bodies.  This particular Albergue was revamped last year (2011) and was most impressive with about 100 single beds (2 per compartment) per floor (3 x floors).  We unpacked as quick as we possible could and grabbed a hot shower and off to dinner to meet our first group of pilgrims.

Shereez and I noticed a table in the Albergue where people where leaving “stuff” – at first I did not understand but then realised that some people where so tired from schlepping their back packs already  that they ruthlessly toss out a ton of their stuff  to make the back pack lighter.   I am sure my time will come to do this as well.  In fact Shereez tossed some stuff out her back pack tonight.  In all the research you are reminded that  carrying a back pack all day up and down the mountains just gets heavier every step of the way.  Whatever you toss is available for others to take, the start of trusting that the CAMINO WILL PROVIDE!

The table were pilgrims tossed whatever!!

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An interesting meal and interesting conversation.  All in all an enjoyable evening – popped a sleeping tablet and fell asleep feeling a little anxious about the 22 km I knew we had to tackle in the morning.

Lights out at 22h00 and the snoring was well on its way to playing out various forms of unheard noises.  The plan was to get going early tomorrow – our first day on the camino is but a sleep away and I continue to think about – why the hell am I doing this!!

Franscesca on the right, it is his 5th Camino.  I can’t remember the guys name on the left but he was walking another route and crossed the Francis Camino in Roncesvalles.  One hell of an interesting chap who has travelled and explored places I have never even heard of.  Our first pilgrims dinner, the eye balls of the fish put me off a little!!  However it was yummy!  We also got a bottle of red wine, fruit after our meal, all for 9 euros.

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We were up early as planned, must admit I slept well (thanks to the sleeping tablet).   How funny, the sun was hardly up and Shereez and I had our sun hats on!! We had no cooking clue where to go and just followed whoever was in front of us.  We eventually learnt that the yellow arrows were our cue and that is what we needed to follow, all the way to Santiago.
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The day was marked with so many hills to climb – what a hectic walk!  Going uphill is just as tiring as going downhill!!  Downhill, you really have to watch your footing.  Not wanting to bend your knee certainly doesn´t help.  Oh well on you walk as there is no turning back now!

Some of the scenery for the day!

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Seeing Zubiri from a distance was a relief however my knees and feet ached so badly I could not pick up the pace.  We had heard along the way that the municipal Albergue was not in good shape so we decided to book into a private Albergue which was the right decision in light of how we both felt.  A room with 8 bunk beds rather than a dormitary with a 100 bunk beds as well as 10 euros versus 6 euros.  We decided to skip the pilgrims meal @ 10 euros and bought a french loaf with some cheese and salami for dinner.

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We met some interesting people along ¨The Way¨already.   There´s a wonderful sense of togetherness on the El Camino.  I can feel it already.   People from all over the world, so many languages and accents. I am embarassed that I don´t at least know some Spanish. It is really daunting to ask for something, or to order dinner, or hold a conversation with no Spanish understanding however my first day and  I have gotten very comfortable with ´”buen camino” and  “hola” which you say to everyone who passes by.

Both these ladies have been on the CAMINO from Geneva so have already walked +- 1000km, all I have to say is WOW!!

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Zubiri is a small industrial town on the Camino.  To enter the town you cross the Puente de la Rabia, a medeval bridge over the river. The legend is that if you walked your cows around the center of the bridge three times, they would be safe from, or cured of, rabies.

We have a bed in the albergue, Shereez a bottom bunk and myself the top – just feeling  thankful and we have enjoyed a hot shower.  Our clothes are being washed and tumbled dried for us by the owner of the Albergue – feeling so blessed!!   Shereez and I don’t  have the rhythm down for buying food or taking breaks so we have nothing for the walk tomorrow.  All the stores close in the afternoon (there is only one in this town) and only opens again in the evening.  I will be in bed by then to rest my body!!  So we shall learn as we tackle this one step at a time.  At least we have water!

Tomorrow is another hectic walk (well so we hear) – please lord jesus spare my knees, feet and toes for another 30 odd days :0)

On I walk……



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Showing 2 comments
  • Mike

    Hi Mickey well done. Sorry to have missed you in jhb. Happy Birthday. You was on the road to your trip. Look after yourself. You a special soul. lots of love and more some
    Mike N

  • Mike

    Hi Shereez look after yourself and that very special friend lots o love and enjoy your trip up hills and down dales and lots of good Spanish food and some wine lol Mike N

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