Bonjour from France!
We spent 3 days in Madrid and had a pretty fine time. We left Friday afternoon heading north after 3 nights with 2 different couchsurfing hosts. We took the bus from Madrid to the city of San Sebastián, which is located in northern Spain in Basque Country (País Vasco, as it is called in the Basque language, which is a regional language very dissimilar to Spanish and baffles linguists as it is unrelated to any other known language). We spent last night in a hostel near the city center and ate dinner with two American students we met who are spending the year studying in Madrid but were in San Sebastián for a short vacation.
This morning we visited the post office in San Sebastián where we stuffed a box with some of our excess belongings and mailed it to ourselves in the city of Santiago de Compostela, where we will collect it at the end of our walk. The idea is to carry as little weight as possible for this journey. Guess we’re committed to the whole 800 kilometers if we want to get our stuff back at the end. Then we caught several trains through the Basque Country to the town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, which is just a stone’s throw over the border from Spain. The last leg of our journey was on a cute, single-car train. As we got nearer and nearer to our destination we noticed more and more hikers, bikers and walkers of various ages and nationalities. We then landed in St. Jean which seems like the Mecca of the Camino. Pilgrims are everywhere.
Tomorrow will be the first day of our journey on foot toward Santiago de Compostela. It is expected to be a difficult day, covering nearly 30 kilometers and gaining about 1400 meters in elevation. We feel mostly ready, except that we both have colds and generally are not feeling very fit. Seemed like a good idea when we thought this up. More soon from the road!