Arrival in St. Jean Pied de Port
I’ve arrived in St. Jean Pied de Pont (SJPP) after boarding a delightfully slow chugging train through the foothills of the Pyrenees. The train stopped at some quaint old towns before dropping us off here.
After checking to the office that assigns the Compostela, a sort of pilgrims passport that you get stamped each night you stop and which will, should you make it to the end, give you a certificate in Latin from the church stating the completion of your successful pilgrimage.
A helpful bit of advice later, including that there would be no food available and only two places for water on tomorrow’s trek across the Napoleon pass, I checked into the next door Albergue (a sort of hostel where only pelegrinos are allowed to stay). A quick shower, wash, chat in broken Spanish/French and I was off into the town. It’s a geat old town with slowly undulating cobble stone streets, buildings dating back to the 1600’s, great restaurants views of the surrounding mountains. It feels lived in and even though it has many pilgrims doing the trek it doesn’t feel tacky in it’s tourism. Greetings to pilgrims appear genuine and the old town area is extensive and lived in with people peering out of shuttered windows and the most amazing cheeses on sale in shop windows. If the Camino Frances keeps in taking me into towns like this I’ll be happy.
I wandered around for a while only to be stopped by the first place with cold beer and a view of the city walls. In a short while I’ll go search for an all in pelegrino meal including the obligatory quarter if a litre of wine before trying to get to bed early. I’m buggered but happy. It’s been a long journey to get here and tomorrow is going to be the mother of all days.