Stage 1: Roncesvalles to Akerreta (Linda’s report on Day 1)

Your intrepid Camino reporter ...

I’ll start from Paris, as that was the beginning of my trip to reach Roncesvalles, I was booked to fly out at 10.55, our flight was delayed to 11.30, so i touched down in Madrid at 1.30. By the time I got into the hotel it was 2.30 so not much sleep! Cheryl and I met when we woke up next to each other the next morning. We thought we were all over the catching of the train thing until we realised they had changed the gate and announced it in spanish, which as neither of us speak it meant we missed our train. Frantic phone calls to Curtis ensued and we checked flights but were unable to get to Pamplona any earlier than the mid afternoon train.

Curtis met us on the platform and we were off to Roncesvalles, Curtis took us up to Ibañeta but I think the Pyrenees were having an identity crisis and thought they were Antarctica so we took some quick pics. before retreating to the warmth of the Hotel.

The hotel was amazing, beautifully renovated and comfortable, our hosts were so welcoming, just lovely! We were allowed into the Monastery during the priests evening prayers and it was so serene after a busy day, my tea levels had dropped however, and I won´t even begin to tell you about my nicotine ones so I had a few moments of quiet contemplation and headed back to the hotel, where I had tea AND a hot bath overlooking the mountains around us, bliss!

We went down the slope to Casa Paco for dinner, simple, fresh, fabulous! Washed down with the local red wine, it doesn´t get better. Cheryl headed off to bed and Curtis and I sat at the bar for tea and coffee to round out our meal. The owner poured us large shots of a local apple liqueur which was wonderful, toasts all around. As we walked up to the hotel, the clouds were drifting like spun fairy floss across the moon, and with the spire of the monastery in the foreground not a sight I would have missed.

As soon as I was awake this morning I was chomping at the bit to be walking, this is what I came here to do, let´s do it. We were lucky enough that the hospitalero of the refugio was able to sort out our passports and we were able to begin.

The weather was postcard perfect, cool and breezy this morning but that just inspired me to open my stride and get the blood flowing. I lost the camino for a little while but quickly found it again. I was too busy enjoying the picturesque country-side and not paying attention. I was struck by the bells around the necks of cattle and horses, there was a paddock of about 30 cattle all wearing bells, and the background noise of my camino so far is the bells ringing as the animals move.

Cow are you this morning, Linda?

I came into Zubiri at 1pm where I stopped for lunch, the older people of the town were out taking the sun and are so warm and enjoy the antics of the pilgrims collapsing so much. I headed off after about a 30 min. break as I was feeling good and the weather was so sensational!

I found our hotel at Akerreta, and sat in the sun to relax and enjoy the feeling of a great days´ walk. The young woman at reception makes a magnificent pot of tea, so that was where Curtis and Cheryl found me when they arrived, sitting in the afternoon sun with tea and a cigarette, my idea of heaven at that moment.

I think I can, I think I can ...